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Drag shows aren’t for children Their appeal lies in sexual dissidence

Drag shouldn't be "wholesome". Agung Parameswara/Getty Images

Drag shouldn't be "wholesome". Agung Parameswara/Getty Images


August 4, 2022   5 mins

One Easter Sunday, many years ago, some friends and I attended a showcase of performances in a network of dank subterranean vaults. The event was self-consciously avant-garde, and many of the artists were drag queens who were exploring the more subversive aspects of their craft. This involved a great deal of screaming, bloodletting and carnal depravity. At one point I wandered into a chamber in which two naked performers were engaged in full penetrative sex. Around them a cluster of middle-class hipsters had formed, pensively observing them as though they were connoisseurs contemplating a Henry Moore.

These days we are accustomed to a somewhat tamed version of drag. But the best performers have always pushed the limits of acceptability: I once appeared at a comedy night at the Edinburgh fringe hosted by a drag queen whose interaction with the punters was not so much waspish as downright libellous. At another, I remember a drag artist smoking liberally during the performance, blowing smoke at a pregnant woman on the front row and saying “I hope you have a miscarriage”. It was a far cry from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Traditional drag is clearly meant for adults. So what explains the growing enthusiasm for “Drag Queen Story Hour”, in which drag queens visit schools, libraries and other council venues to read to young children? For whatever reason, this bizarre subgenre has been championed by celebrities and politicians who wish to be seen as being on “the right side of history”. Last week the MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, tweeted about taking her infant son to a show in which a drag queen called Greta Tude “put so much energy into story telling and entertaining local children”. Her colleague Nadia Whittome replied, describing the event as “so wholesome”.

But do fans of drag really want it to become “wholesome”? The appeal of drag shows is that they revel in sexual dissidence, as the American drag queen Kitty Demure has pointed out:

“I have no idea why you want drag queens to read books to your children… Would you want a stripper or a porn star to influence your child? It makes no sense at all. A drag queen performs in a nightclub for adults. There is a lot of filth that goes on, a lot of sexual stuff that goes on, and backstage there’s a lot of nudity and sex and drugs. Okay? So I don’t think this is an avenue that you would want your child to explore.”

The sexual element of drag is impossible to deny. Even the more tepid drag queens, whose repertoire extends no further than lip-synching to Donna Summer, tend to interlace their performances with suggestive gestures, provocative quips and the occasional slut-drop.

That’s not to say drag queens can’t adapt to a younger audience — they are actors after all. It’s perfectly possible for performers of Drag Queen Story Hour to read stories to children without all the eroticised preening and pouting we have come to expect from them. But why would any self-respecting artist want to do it? There is something deeply mystifying about drag queens who choose to anaesthetise their art form in order to regale infants with tales of teddy bears and picnics.

While many drag queens are happy to tone it down, others have made little effort to modify their raunchy style for children. It may be that only a handful of performers fall into this category, but all it takes is a few viral videos for parents’ worst fears to be confirmed. Many such clips have appeared on the “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account. The most recent shows a drag queen teaching a small child to dance for tips in Palm Springs, California. A previous video showed a drag show at a club in Dallas attended by children in which the words “It’s Not Gonna Lick Itself!” appeared in large neon lettering on the upstage wall.

It’s not just American parents who are worried: the trend of sexualised children’s shows spread into Britain well before Drag Queen Story Hour. Last year, Redbridge Council commissioned an event at a local library which featured an actor dressed as a bare-bottomed monkey with a large fake penis attached to his crotch. In April, The Family Sex Show — devised by Bristol-based theatre company ThisEgg — was cancelled after parents discovered that it featured full-frontal nudity and content about masturbation, despite being aimed at children as young as five.

Do these artists have no comprehension of the innocence of childhood? If so, they’re not alone. Sex education theorists seeking to transform the curriculum argue that children ought to be taught about sexuality as early as possible. But it can hardly be considered prudish to object to five-year-olds being urged to “try sexual practices” with their “sexual parts”, as the website of The Family Sex Show suggests.

All this explains why drag performers are struggling to convince parents their intentions are benign. Inevitably, many critics have raised safeguarding concerns. Protesters disrupted a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a library in Reading last week, chanting “paedophile” and accusing the performer of “child grooming”. Such accusations are, of course, unfounded and unhelpful. Yet they also speak to the emotive nature of this debate, in which some reckless artists refuse to observe boundaries around children.

In response, library staff have been trained to refer to drag queens as “pantomime dames”, as though they were in any way synonymous. This is misleading, and possibly insulting to the acts, as it strips away the political history of the genre and enervates its impact. There is more to drag than cross-dressing; it is a satirical commentary on gender roles and heterosexual norms, a means to stretch the ambit of decorum. If drag is not transgressive, it ceases to be drag. So why would drag queens sanitise their work?

It is difficult to escape the feeling that all of this is a form of goading, a way to provoke those who are perceived as “conservative” and “reactionary” and to increase the visibility and normalisation of the LGBTQ+ movement. Stonewall recently tweeted a claim that “research suggests that children as young as two recognise their trans identity”. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Drag Queen Story Hour is being interpreted as an extension of Stonewall propaganda.

It’s not just the overt sexuality of some children’s drag shows that is alarming. Drag has long been seen as an excuse for men to mock and fetishise what it means to be female — and has even been compared to black-and-white minstrel shows. Feminists can’t be happy that children are watching men aping extreme stereotypes of womanhood. Surely, it would be prudent for local councils to stay out of this fraught debate?

The organisers of the current UK library tour of Drag Queen Story Hour say they want to “show the world that being different is not a bad thing, and by providing imaginative role models for children to look up to, we can change the world book by book!” While it is not uncommon for children’s stories to convey a moral message, it does seem strange that so many drag queens are keen to undertake a pedagogic role that, in contrast to their typically bacchanalian late-night productions, must seem somewhat insipid.

Drag delights in the smashing of taboos. There are many genres and art forms that can be sanitised for a younger audience, but drag has at its heart a lascivious energy, a fuck-you attitude to societal norms. If you strip away all that to make it age-appropriate, what is left? Just a man in a dress. And Widow Twankey already has that covered.


Andrew Doyle is a comedian and creator of the Twitter persona Titania McGrath

andrewdoyle_com

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

There was nothing inherently racist in the black and white minstrel shows which in essence were tribute acts to slave and Jim Crow era black music. However, inevitably the exaggerated and theatrical make up of a stereotype of black performers came to be seen as representing a form of mockery of blacks once a greater sensitivity in race relations arose.

Should not drag acts be equally objectionable to women for a similar reason? The drag artist is a representation of an exaggerated highly stereotypical type of femininity that inevitably mocks by exaggerating the characteristics of a small subset of real women most of whom do not dress like drag artists.

Local Authorities and leftist commentators would not regard Black and White minstrels reading stories to children as wholesome. Why should they regard similar exaggerated representations of women by men as wholesome and desirable?

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Completely agree. They are parodies of women.
I’ve also noticed that the first thing men seem to do when they transition to women is grow their hair long or get a wig. They also seem to devote a lot of time to makeup and seem to prefer tight-fitting skirts and dresses over more comfortable, everyday wear. In other words, they are modelling themselves on a tiny subset of women. At the extreme end of that subset are those women who sell their looks (and more) for a living. This makes it hard not to believe that what we are dealing with here is men seeking arousal…

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 year ago

Absolutely. And, sometimes, their new ‘feminine’ names would not be out of place in a brothel.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I have always found drag “artists” objectionable, to me they do appear to be mocking women. I confess that I have never seen any of the antics that Mr Doyle has, and from the sound of it I don’t think that I’ve missed anything, it all seems quite dissolute and (I think the technical term is) yuck.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago

Remember when Paul O’Grady took his Lilly Savage persona from its close to the bone adult roots and modified its content for a mainstream TV audience back in the 90s? There was no furore then – Lilly was a national treasure and knew what material was appropriate to specific audiences. Paul O’Grady wasn’t mocking women as an entire category – Lilly was his tribute to the bold, brassy, take no sh!t, working class women he grew up with and who raised him on Merseyside through the arts of skilful exaggeration and humour. Of course its larger than life and exaggerated – gay men have always had a talent for mimicry and a fascinated admiration for larger than life, dramatic Divas. Drag is an attempt to render them even larger than life and more dramatic – there’s admiration in that. To me, when I still went to gay bars and clubs in the 90s and noughties, drag was a means to laugh at those excesses of femininity which were simultaneously worthy of celebration and, yes, ripe for having fun poked at them WHILE making it very clear that performers remained men. It was also a means to make fun of these tropes as unreasonable expectations heterosexual men often impose upon women. I feel it was an outlet for most gay men who were and are uninterested or didn’t have the skills necessary to cross dress themselves, but who have an appreciation for ribald high-camp, to laugh along with those who do have such skills – and when drag’s done well, it truly is a fabulous form of entertainment.
The problem does not seem to me to be drag itself – in its original form it is a gay, male performance form made by and largely for us with the odd breakout artist like Lilly – but it being used as a vehicle to promote something quite different to a very young audience: gender ideology, which has nothing to do with gay men. It’s a Trojan horse for gender ideologists out to introduce non-age appropriate material to kids. Clearly understood boundaries have been crossed by those involved, which does a disservice to the great drag queens of a few decades ago. It’s a great shame that the gender mob, so intent in breaking down boundaries and categories, have taken this too far to areas that, its becoming apparent, most of society is rightly saying ‘no’ to. The result is an emerging backlash that I fear will not discriminate between lesbian and gay people who fought long and hard for acceptance and equality and ideological extremist pushing every ‘identity’ after LGB in that monstrous LGBTQIA2S+etc construction that has sod all to do with our interests. It would be a great shame if drag as originally conceived was collateral damage in that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Bryce
Douglas H
Douglas H
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Thanks, interesting and well-written comment

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

tbf, Lily Savage didn’t aim her shows at little children either, she made herself appropriate for daytime telly. There is still a big difference between This Morning and CBeebies.
I’m surprised the drag artists want the story time gigs? Are they so hard up for jobs?

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Yes, I made that point.

Barry Stokes
Barry Stokes
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Jordan Peterson refers to them as ‘the alphabet people’ which sums it up really. Lead your lives as you wish but please don’t try to force it on the rest of us.

Lucy Browne
Lucy Browne
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Excellent comment, thank you.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

You’ve come up with a list of reasons to justify the mocking of women that echo those that are used to justify the mocking of black people through black face minstrels. Do you justify the ‘only gay in the village’ stereotypes too?

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I have no problem with the ‘only gay in the village’ stereotypes. How dull it would be if we couldn’t laugh at ourselves.

I’m Scottish and also enjoy Groundskeeper Willie too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Bryce
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago

Can you expand on what you mean by “mocking”? I think I understand what you are getting at, but an example would help as to how they are mocking women.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

Perhaps you miss the obvious? Typical the extremes of hairdos, tight clothing featuring ultra large tops and bottoms, often extra high, heels. That image is more of the bimbo (showgirl) for male fantasy. They are never dressed as a women ready to be the CEO who attempts to minimize her female curves, yet often the cut ensures awareness. Subtle vs in-your-face.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Really? You need it explained or are you being ironic?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I would rather pick out a kidney of mine with a teaspoon than even be paid to attend this mode of entertainment.. and who cares anyway?

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

That is actually totally and historically wrong. The Black and White Minstrels (some times known as “Nig ger Minstrels” or “Co on Minstrels” were shows which started in the early part of the 19th century and were white people blacking up their faces and making fun of the enslaved population with cheap parodies and stereotypes. It is true that, by the middle of the century some African Americans performed them but only because it was the only gig in town
A similar thing happened with “Spirituals” which were promoted as part of the anti-slavery drive during emancipation and promoted the idea of African-Americans as “the noble savage”. The intention was good but the music was very sanitized so as not to startle people by its hard edge. It was not until the early years of the last century, when African-Americans started to move north that the blues, and the more raw-edged gospel music became better known.
“Blackface” is not, ever, justifiable.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

ooh how very seriously concerning? now I shall not sleep for worry about this world threatening problem…

Slopmop McTeash
Slopmop McTeash
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

You sad little creature.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Does this irrelevant drivel seriously engage your thoughts?

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

Despite what woke social media would have you believe, not many gay men are in favor of this. I think it has something to do with “between two consenting adults” applying to ADULTS!

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Josh Woods
Josh Woods
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

This. I have a number of wonderful LGB friends who are NOT deep within these culture wars but minding their own business and living as themselves. And yes, a number of LGBs are even denouncing this woke stuff, most notably Dave Rubin(whom UnHerd should interview).

Last edited 1 year ago by Josh Woods
Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago

I agree and I hung out with a few drag queens back in the day. One called Justine Thyme, who was hilariously ribald and really named Todd (rumour is he was successful in Vegas later on); another named Roxy, who by day was a hotel manager named Mike and did an inspired rendition of Grace Jones’s ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ and another called Trashi Terri, who famously showed up one Hallowe’en to a gay club I went to dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid, complete with tentacles, and proceeded to goose several guys on the dancefloor with them. All great guys (and they were emphatically all men) but their drag personas were for an adult audience, not kids.

I also knew a gay stand up comedian who performed in front of his ‘home audience’ with the immortal quip, ‘big shout to all the f@g hags in tonight. Don’t worry ladies, we may outnumber you, but you outweigh us’. Happy days 
 but I digress 


I agree with Andrew Doyle’s point about panto dames and feel that the agenda with drag queen story hour is not to laugh along with an obvious bloke in a dress but to introduce highly contestable and contested gender ideology to kids, something none of the ‘proper’ drag queens I knew in the 90s or noughties would have countenanced.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Bryce
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

It’s a pity drag has been caught up in the trans wars. I used to go to Madame JoJo’s in Soho back in the 80s for a fun night out with the Queens – all very good-humoured and unpolitical. A more innocent time I guess.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Yes indeed. Those were indeed the days … and the gays! While physically more dangerous to be gay in the 80s/90s, it was a whole lot more fun.

There are some fabulous drag queens still around, like San Francisco’s ‘Pollo Del Mar’ (Chicken of the Sea) also known as the Glamazon. He also does pro-wrestling commentary from ringside in drag.

Fantastic, old school, fun.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Bryce
James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago

I don’t think any of us really have any idea of the depravity that goes on.

Around 15 years ago I was being treated for a skin condition in Germany. The doctor told me about a patient with aids who came in with huge cuts on his back. Apparently the “ fun” evening consisted of him being tied to a table and whipped by a group of guys and then penetrated up the a**s by multiple men. He would then take a cocktail of drugs and try and penetrate as many as he could in return. The doctor said that the whipping was so severe that the air in the room must have been full of blood droplets, so they inhaled the blood of the guy with aids, even if they used a condom for the sex act.
I am not saying that this is typical behaviour of alternative sexual preferences. But let’s say that after hearing this I didn’t really enjoy my lunch that day and I would not like any of these guys with their different and unhealthy sexual preferences, anywhere near my kids
.
Yes what the doctor describes is an extreme example of deviancy from heterosexual norms and I suspect rather unusual. A liberal might say that the sexual behaviours that the doctor describes do not harm anyone but the participants and so this is acceptable and kids need to be exposed to alternative sexual behaviours, just in case any of them feel that the sort of repulsion I felt when the doctor described the behaviour to me. I disagree with that viewpoint.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

I suspect the aim is to desensitise children from a very young age so they don’t feel repulsion. Perhaps it’s because the people responsible want validation; or maybe they want to erase any perception that a group is deviant and ‘marginalised’. No judgement. I don’t have to state where that can lead …

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

This is exactly what this is about, although it’s not just about desensitizing. It’s about replacing healthy masculinity and femininity with a slave mentality controlled by sexual impulse and desire.

“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.”

Aldous Huxley

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

We don’t see sexual freedom being celebrated or even allowed in Marxist dictatorships like the old USSR, China or North Korea, nor did it seem to play a role in breaking down resistance to the loss of political freedom in those societies, possibly because they did not have much political freedom to start with.
But as the West already enjoys great political freedom, this tactic is one of the few ways Marxists have of distracting people from their increasing political control, and as Julian Farrows says above, making them slaves to their sexual impulses–one of the circus parts of “bread and circuses”.

Kiki Le Chat
Kiki Le Chat
1 year ago
Reply to  DA Johnson

As it happens, I grew up in a country within the former USSR’s sphere of influence (70’s to late 80’s). Eroticism was everywhere in arthouse and commercial films. Adverts (for a coop, for a department store, for a bmx bike..) featured near naked women. Socialism wasn’t prudish, sex was no sin, procreation good for society. This was true of neighbouring countries with which cultural exchanges were vivid.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Kiki Le Chat

Thanks for this insight, but these are still heteronormative examples, not transgressive ones like the subject of this article. Would your country’s government have participated in the celebration of homosexuality, promoted transitioning, or sanctioned drag queen story hour for children, as “progressive” governments are doing in the West?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  DA Johnson

There are several reasons why LGBQT propaganda is being pushed forward:

  1. LGBQT promote themselves as an oppressed minority which presents a convenient entry point for governments to interfere in the sex lives of the unwashed masses.
  2. This creates a happy two-fold effect: a) Like ‘systemic racism’ Governments and corporations have another lever they can use to influence and control people’s thoughts, words and behavior. b) LGBQT liberation can also be used to punish nation-states unwilling to conform to the new liberal world order, hence the ubiquity of the rainbow flag (note how LGBQT rhetoric and the flag itself is become more war-like).
  3. Groups that disagree with LGBQT propaganda can be Othered. When groups are ‘Othered’ their viewpoints conveniently become delegitimized and therefore not worth listening to.
  4. LGBQT uses the ‘Pied Piper’ effect. It lures adolescents away from the protective circle of family by promising sexual liberation (sex and sexual identity being a great concern to many teenagers), while defanging parents by labelling them as hopelessly out-of-touch and unenlightened bigots.
  5. People that are psychosexually confused experience a form of arrested development. They have little sense of self and as such are more obedient and susceptible to suggestion. Because the state affirms their sexual identity, LGBQT adherents enter into a co-dependent relationship with the government. Government is good because it protects their interests, therefore anything that increases government control must also be good. For an example of this see how many LGBQT groups reacted to issues such as vaccine mandates and Black Lives Matter protests. They mostly fall in line with the ‘approved’ narrative.
  6. Population control: the promotion of same-sex activities and self-castration decreases undesirable populations. The promotion of abortion also serves this function.
  7. LGBQT groups (and others) serve to deflect blame from those who are pushing these nefarious agendas. Like many activist believers they are in fact ‘useful idiots’ working for a regime that will eventually come to oppress them. We already see how this is being carried out by the ‘T’ against the ‘LGB’ part of the movement.
Last edited 1 year ago by Julian Farrows
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I once read a book about North Yemen. As I recollect, the men would work in the morning then in the afternoon chew some drug and talk about their big dreams, which were never acted upon. Everyday the same.

Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

When I was a mere child, I recall a term showing up somewhere, not long before I turned 10 years old. This was a term as I recall, that might have been picked up and discussed within groups of boys – but was decidedly brought forward and presented by groups of girls – mostly around the the same age.
We referred to this interesting term as the “creep factor.” Just that. It was kind of a catch-all, a loose collection of ideas, an invitation to compare notes, and discuss what for many was almost universally observed as the “uncomfortable.” Partly because for many of us – these conversations did not happen with adults. They happened among kids because we came to understand that we were not only the trustworthy ones, but also the ones whose life experiences (such as they were at the time) often proved that we shared similar situations, although not at all virtually the same.
So what was a creep factor? It was simply being creeped out by an adult. Sometimes socially. Sometimes psychologically. Sometimes physically. And sometimes with a physicality that was so obviously a threat, that it set off alarm bells like a 3-alarm fire.
I say all this just to point out that of course, children who are not at all de-sensitized have this stuff in spades. In other words, they’re perceptive, critical, watchful, aware, and do much of what they do with incredibly adept self-preservation instincts well in place. They do this becomes it comes natural. They do it because they trust it, and count on it. They do it because sometimes it’s sharable – with other (trusted) children, with whom one can share strong bonds. They do it because they’re curious, not closed down, and want to understand the crazy world they were born into – better.
They also do it because intuitively, they understand that parents and other big people aren’t always going to be there riding shotgun, and protect them every single step of the way. They do this because they don’t necessarily want the protection to come with a complete loss of freedom, or to single out and to openly announce or even advertise what to them always was that poo-yucka kind of gut response.
So in spite of the fact that most of us did have trusted and well-like adults in our lives, ones we let down our guard with, we all of us understood the basics of what was a creep. In that particular vernacular. It was important to be clear. Innocence was not so very affordable, considering what we figured was at stake.
All this “know-how” in a time of incredible innocence, anyhow. Amazing juxtaposition. I mean, we weren’t a bunch of little Methusalah’s. We were ordinary and natural children.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

… they want to erase any perception that a group is deviant and ‘marginalised’.
This.
Again, James Lindsay’s analysis of the many iterations of identity ideologies shows that their working software is neo marxist. He has read Paulo Freire’s pedagogical rantings and points out the Freire makes plain the bringing the margins into the centre as a key feature of activism in education. Thus Kimberley Krenshaw’s infamous essay “Mapping the Margins” from which the idea of intersecting identities emerge.
Lindsay’s remarkable, IMO, podcast
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNW79czfibw&t=1593s
describes this structural feature of woke marxism and relates to the various identity activisms – race marxism, queer marxism, feminist marxism, disableist marxism, fat marxism etc etc.
The beauty is that in his breakdown of sex, sexuality and gender marxism (queer marxism), he outlines the ideas of statistical versus moral normalcy and how the abnormal must be brought into the centre – that is, everybody considers it normal. When it is considered normal, the “harm and trauma” of being abnormal/marginalised will be erased and social justice will be reached.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 year ago

Exactly.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Seems to be a way of foisting paraphilias on young kids and normalising them. In the Butler world, this is to destabilise the “heteronormative family” considered the fount of all evil by Marxists.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

ooh what fun? do you have an address for such exciting and normal entertainment? Beats quiz nite at the pub?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Don’t worry, it was just a Household Cavalry Officers dining night… Munster, was it?

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

Interesting article. One passage needs work though.
Towards the middle Andrew says:
‘…the LGBTQ+ movement. Stonewall recently tweeted…”
What is “the” LGBTQ+ movement? Stonewall’s version? Is that the only one there is? Wouldn’t it better to drop the letter soup altogether, as we know it is meaningless? We also know that L, G and T have different priorities and that they shouldn’t be grouped together, so let’s start by not using the acronym, but expressions like “Stonewall’s movement” – or use inverted commas.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

This. I now seperate LGB from the rest because they don’t need to be shoehorned into this whole debacle, speaking as someone who has a number of wonderful LGB friends who are NOT deep within these culture wars but minding their own business and living as themselves. And in fact a number of LGBs are denouncing this woke stuff, most notably Dave Rubin(whom UnHerd should interview), and just want to be left alone.
And to the Drag Queen debacle: The biggest problem here is that it is NOT kid-friendly entertainment even if teen-friendly. If you’re not taking your kids to a furry convention(NOT simply an average person in an animal costume) or a club with scantily dressed men & women and letting these folks play or go storytelling with them, then the same ought to be applied to drags as well. Leave the drag queens to the adults.

Last edited 1 year ago by Josh Woods
D Frost
D Frost
1 year ago

The shocking part is that we would even have this discussion. Men who want to put on dresses and then seek out the society small children should probably be put in prison or psychiatric institutions. Enabling them suggests that our society has lost its moral compass.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  D Frost

Not sure the men who are true drag queens are the ones seeking out children. They are being paid to perform if the videos of them leaving a venue are typical. Much like birthday clowns that arrive at the party. Better to question the motivations of the paymasters..

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 year ago

We are not talking about Dame Edna here. Andrew signals the “delight in the smashing of taboos”
and “lascivious energy” that characterises drag. It is disingenuous at the least, if not deceptive, to claim that the genre can be sanitised for toddlers. And challenging parents is an overt “Ă©pater la bourgeoisie,” in your face, attempt to portray them as intolerant “bigots” rather than protectors. Thank you for sounding the alarm Andrew.

Mark Chadwick
Mark Chadwick
1 year ago

The woke brigade’s latest whatabouttery is to claim that it’s no different to pantomime. The difference is Widow Twankey plays it for laughs, while these drag hags are a grotesque sexualised parody of what they think is feminine glamour. Why are they feeling this sudden overwhelming need to read stories to children anyway?

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

they think is feminine glamour.” – Not at all. it’s what their typical audience expects – a mockery of the female. For a few, it’s those pesky females that keep many men from enjoying proper sex. Proper in the eye of the audience.

George Scipio
George Scipio
1 year ago

Drag is transgressive at heart. These days, sexual transgression is a weapon in the mission to queer social norms and thereby achieve “liberation” by destroying the categories and structures that “sexual theorists” believe are oppressing us. This is mere fringe academic nonsense, of course, but it is alarming that the Creasys of this world are taken in. Transgenderism is at the forefront of the mission, with idiotic “research shows” claims dribbling out of Stonewall and other well-heeled indoctrination groups, but the drag queen circus is all over town. Conditioning young children to accept overt sexuality is usually described with the G word. Creasy and co need to read up on the history of the PIE and back away quickly. Otherwise, no half-baked postmodern theory from second-rate queer/culture/sex “theorists” in America will save them.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

Its called “queering spaces” and comes straight from the cannon of Judith Butler and her cult following.

B Davis
B Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

Originally…it was fringe academic nonsense. And if it had remained fringe academic nonsense (and there’s a lot which fits under that umbrella), this wouldn’t really be a problem.
But it’s escaped from that cloistered, hot house world of theoretical weirdness and is now found everywhere…especially, it seems, in public school districts: https://christopherrufo.com/san-diego-gender-theory/
[Rufo has also written of the same phenomenon in Portland, Oregon, and LA]

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
1 year ago

If you’re not taking your kids to a furry convention(NOT simply an average person in an animal costume) or a club with scantily dressed men & women and letting these folks play or go storytelling with them, then the same ought to be applied to drags as well. Leave the drag queens to the adults.

Jo Nielson
Jo Nielson
1 year ago

I think it’s more about the bored moms than it is about the kids.

My son was just old enough to have been ‘too old for this’ when this started gaining popularity, but some of the moms I know with younger kids *loved* this concept. They thought it was great. (As in the best thing ever thought of -ever) The kid could get a story and they could be entertained too. There was no thought about ‘what am I exposing my kid to’. I get wanting mom life to be more than what it is sometimes, but I found it really weird that they never thought to question the implications of their kids hanging out with drag queens. Even for a short time.

For me, there’s just a huge difference between adult fun and kid fun and drag queens shouldn’t be a part of kid fun.

I find it disturbing that so many adults my age find this to be appropriate behavior
.for young kids and toddlers. I just can’t wrap my head around that a lot of the time. I get maybe ‘some’ high schoolers are ready for drag queens, but the idea that there are full on drag performances in some high schools now just is cringy. It’s not something that public schools or libraries should be promoting. Not all kids are the same and kids aren’t little adults. My kid is just entering high school now and he’s just not mature enough for drag queens yet. Getting there, but not quite there yet.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago

The organisers of the current UK library tour of Drag Queen Story Hour say they want to “show the world that being different is not a bad thing, and by providing imaginative role models for children to look up to, we can change the world book by book!” 
Except it isn’t “to show the world”. It is to “educate” young children through an inappropriate, managed process of category complication and destabilisation at a developmental stage where simplified, fundamental categories are being constructed.
I posted this elsewhere in another forum but I think it is apropos here.
Here is a recent paper on the subject – promoting Drag Queen Story Hour[DQSH] to young children;
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03626784.2020.1864621
Some excerpts (in italics);

Drag Queen Story Hour [DQSH] is called ‘Drag Pedagogy’ – the teaching of living q—rly.
Ultimately, the authors propose that “drag pedagogy” provides a performative approach to queer pedagogy that is not simply about LGBT lives, but living queerly.

DQSH is an outgrowth of q___r theory or ‘sex, gender and sexuality marxism’ and as such is political activism.
… our use of the term in this article generally refers to our desire to practice an embodied political resistance to confining constructs of gender and sexuality as they are produced by the institutions and social relations that govern our lives.

That activism seeks to destabilise the transmission of the normative goal of schooling;
Building in part from queer theory and trans studies, queer and trans pedagogies seek to actively destabilize the normative function of schooling through transformative education … a transformative approach might work with children to inquire as to how “boy-ness” and “girl-ness” are given meaning, the limits of these two categories, and how people might organize themselves differently.

The theory and practice of DQSH aims to take the fundamental categories of boy/girl and man/woman, that are forming at key stages in young children’s development, so as to complicate and destabilise them, to where they can’t be understood without someone telling them what these categories now mean and how they should feel about them.
At many DQSH events, children ask genuine questions like “are you a boy or a girl?” or “why are you dressed like that?” […] In many cases, drag queens may not respond with answers, but with questions meant to complicate perceptions of gender and society: “why does it matter if I’m a boy or a girl?” or “why shouldn’t I wear sequins and feathers and lots of makeup?”
and
… even if the queen said nothing, we argue that her mere aesthetic presence would be generative. While simultaneously destabilizing many of the mundane assumptions of gendered embodiment …

“Family friendly” is an equivocal term;
We believe that DQSH offers an invitation towards deeper public engagement with queer cultural production, particularly for young children and their families. It may be that DQSH is “family friendly,” in the sense that it is accessible and inviting to families with children, … Here, DQSH is “family friendly” in the sense of “family” as an old-school queer code to identify and connect with other queers on the street.

Last edited 1 year ago by michael stanwick
Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
1 year ago

The elephant in the room here is the conflation between Stonewall’s aims/gender ideology, etc. and drag, which is a performance art. They are not the same thing and I think that is blurred by all parties above.

When the DQSH people say it’s to show “there’s nothing wrong with being different” it strikes me that – in the context of drag performers – it is like telling the children there is nothing wrong with dress up and imaginative play. Preaching to the choir on that one….

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Agree with all you say. There seems to be two problems with DQSH.

1. If it’s all about giving kids license to dress up and use their imaginations, why confine it to cross dressing? Have a dress up story hour where readers can appear in any (age appropriate) costume they wish. Preferably linked to the story they’re telling.

2. By claiming, as DQSH does, that this is all about letting kids know about ‘queer*’ identities, they are strongly suggesting that drag queens and other expressions of exaggerated femininity are the ideal versions. This will come as some surprise to most gay men who present in ways pretty much identical to every other man. Besides, why is it important for children to know about this? Plenty of time for that later.

*‘Queer’ is a slur to many gay men. My clearest memory of it was when three gay bashers hurled it at me while they tried to kick me to death in the 90s. It’s appropriation by the ‘new queers’, heterosexuals in search of an identity, is so self centred I scarcely know where to begin. These people are to gays as Rachel Dolezal is to African American.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

I think you nailed it in the final paragraph. “heterosexuals in search of a new identity” A sad ordinary or elderly single guy becomes a bit of a celebrity for a while.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

I’m thinking of founding a ‘straight ally’ organisation called ‘Gays for Hetero Rights’, for my interest in the ongoing viability of the human race, if nothing else.

… why some of my best friends are straight.

The whole identity politics thing has jumped the shark an’ then some.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
1 year ago

Thank you, Andrew Doyle, for this succinct analysis. It explains exactly what’s going on with this phenomenon and counters the sanitized (and false) justifications.

Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
1 year ago

Let’s face it. (Most, if not absolutely all) drag and kids don’t mix. Another bright idea offering up the candlepower of a red dwarf star suspected, but never actually identified on the far side of Andromeda.
But here’s what I don’t get at all. The common respect offered up to any parent or trusted caregiver, over the need to protect a child from any perceived harm. I mean, who has the right to impose an objection on the practice? There is a personal and a private sanctity at play, within the intimacy of a familiar safety zone. One that kids universally, and I mean everywhere, recognize at an early age, and scream bloody murder about regularly when an attempt is made to remove them from such.
We know this. Or at least, most of us do. It is the social bargaining unit we employ in order to make our world safe for the rearing of children. We band together and organize over it. We demand it altogether. Mothers and fathers alike. We are not happy about negotiating it away. We recognize of course, one of the most powerful and universal instincts in the human condition: the need to protect and preserve one’s young.
So what role does a presented hyper-sexualized in your face challenger present in a child’s life? Why exactly is this so very necessary? And is it really and directly about the children at all, or is it about their “signaling” parents and other caregivers? Who need to be, what? Cool? Woke? Progressive? Or most anything at all, other than a competent child-minder? You know. Responsible. Accountable. Adult, even. Imagine.

Chaffers and Bray
Chaffers and Bray
1 year ago

The pushing of the LGBT agenda, to me, seems rather sinister. I know a lot of homosexual folk and are quite happy to live life on their own merits as opposed to their sexuality. That is for none of us to judge, especially when we consider our own sexual immorality.
This may seem controversial, but I wonder if the pushing of the LGBT agenda is a front to cover the paedophilia of those in power.
~1) We have heard from various members of parliament / congress and the media about trying to normalise paedophilia.
~2) The paedohpiles in the LGBT community is at an 11:1 ration compared with the normal heterosexual society. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1556756/
~3) Hunter Biden’s laptop is full of Child Pornography yet he is only being pursued for tax dodging.
~4) The BBC have a greater number of convictions for paedophilia than the rest of society. Jimmy Saville and more. Philip Scholfield, where is his conviction?
~5) Epstein was allowed to get away with Child Sex Trafficking for years.
~6) The lack of action by the authorities over the grooming gangs in Rotherham, Telford, Oldham etc…
~7) The horror stories of story hour, and sexual nature of what has surfaced.
It is all circumstantial, the lack of action over paedophiles at/by the BBC and in/by the halls of power combined with the pushing of a movement that has some concerning statistics to it does pose some serious questions. I hope I am wrong.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chaffers and Bray
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

 There are 7% or 7x more convictions for paedophilia in the LGBT community than there is society as a whole.” Aside from the bad math, I serious doubt the LGBT community has more kiddie stuff than the community at large, even allowing for the huge disparity of populations. If you have a citation from a study rather than a claim it would be useful.
Your other observations about various jaded (generally rich) men grooming children and ruining them for selfish desires have merit.

Chaffers and Bray
Chaffers and Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Apologies, I remember reading something on it years ago and couldn’t remember the 7% or 7x. Both can give very different real-term figures.
I have amended above. Found an article that puts the ratio at 11:1.

Jane Tomlinson
Jane Tomlinson
1 year ago

I have read a few of these comments but ultimately, as a woman, I am fed up with men ridiculing my sex. By all means do it in private if that turns you on or makes you laugh but until you have dealt with demeaning, sexist behaviour from men just because you’re a womant stop expecting me, and many other women to laugh and join in. We are real people, not walking fodder for ridicule. This isn’t good entertainment at any level so stop trying to justify it by putting us down by other means, eg ‘can’t take a joke’, ‘sad old bag’ etc. And leave the children to develop as they should not as the current fad wants them to.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago

Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to craft a nice essay.
You framed and posed some good questions. You may not have been able to answer any of them. The mysteries still abound. But you did impose a lot of structure on how to think about these things. And that is good enough. Cheers!

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
1 year ago

The growing enthusiasm Andrew is known as grooming. The next phase of this process will be demanding s#x with children and accusing anyone who dissents of bigotry.

John Sanchez
John Sanchez
1 year ago

If you were any good as a drag act you wouldn’t have to resort to reading storybooks to young children.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago

Oh, and about Kitty Demure… Yes, I gather many of us have seen some of the video clips of this fellow laying down some truth bombs.
Kitty would not have conformed to my visual concept of a responsible older brother looking out for the young ones, but bless his soul for standing up, demonstrating some leadership, and being the older brother very young people need. I’d give him a hug if I could.

G F
G F
1 year ago

It’s not rocket science – they just want to diddle kids. As wiser people have said – we need to ask, not why kids should benefit from being exposed to drag queens, but why drag queens might feel the need to “perform” to children…and why Stella Creasy and her ilk think this is a good idea – these are the kind of parents who wouldn’t let their kids cross the street alone. The labour party is still the party of PIE.

Waterloo Wailer
Waterloo Wailer
1 year ago

I’m all for drag queens, burlesque shows and pole dancing. But don’t let councils force me to explain any of it to my 5 year old and his younger brother.

B Davis
B Davis
1 year ago

This baffles me.
Not only the ‘Drag Queen Reading Hour’ idiocy; that’s baffling enough. But even the need to write an article decrying the self-evident idiocy of ‘Drag Queen Reading Hour’: it’s all baffling.
How is it possible that anyone believes, let alone enables and practices the deliberate, and conscious exposure of our most innocent to adult sexual perversion?
If the objective is the destruction of that innocence, then DQRHour is as good a tool as any, but how has such a corruption become, increasingly, public policy in our public schools?
Imagine a collection of glamorous dolls, each containing a sparkling potion of arsenic…or strychnine…or cyanide. Would we allow children to snuggle with them? Would we encourage Poison Play Dates and Let’s Get Acquainted with Mortal Toxins Hour?
No?
So how is it possible that we rush to embrace this particular poison?
Christopher Rufo, yesterday, wrote a story describing a similar insanity which has infected the San Diego School District 9https://www.city-journal.org/san-diego-schools-gender-extremism). In it he describes a teacher training program that “includes sample questions on sexuality that teachers might address in the classroom, including: “Is it okay to masturbate?”; “How do gay people have sex?”; “What is porn?”; and “What does semen taste like?” In a related presentation, the district also advises teachers on leading discussions on “how to use a condom” and how to engage in “safer oral sex” and “safer a**l sex.”
So yes, I suppose, just a small stretch from one to other…you have to start somewhere, I guess.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Personally I have no difficulty in distinguishing between:
(a) gays, lesbians and drag artists and
(b) the highly dubious individuals (gay, straight or alphabetical) who are pushing an aggressive sexual and political agenda and react with ruthless ferocity to anything less than full-hearted support for that agenda.

Last edited 1 year ago by Malcolm Knott
Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
1 year ago

If a council wants children entertained, there are better options. Punch and Judy in all its political incorrectness for one. This is about using children to promote a political agenda. That alone should exclude it.

Guy Catelli
Guy Catelli
1 year ago

Well written, informative, and very fair overall. BUT: How is it not “grooming” for a grown man to go around acting out a sexual fetish in front of kids as young as five?

Guy Catelli
Guy Catelli
1 year ago

Well written, informative, and very fair overall. BUT: How is it not “grooming” for a grown man to go around acting out a sexual fetish in front of kids as young as five?

R E P
R E P
1 year ago

“LGBTQ+ movement”…what does this movement want? It seems to want seal-like applause and deference to its flag that is a quasi-religious symbol. That is not on offer. Do what you want but don’t expect our applause, that must be earned. Drag Queen Story Hour is yet another US idea that our degraded media hacks and academics have imported lock stock and barrel.

Last edited 1 year ago by R E P
Richard Slack
Richard Slack
1 year ago

In 1957 I was taken by my parents to the Repertory Theatre to see something called Aladdin. I was five. I was subjected to the sight, not only of a man pretending to be a woman but also a young woman pretending to be a boy! I am trying to work out if I am still traumatised or not; it might explain though why I have never voted Tory in my life (unlike my parents).

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

I’ve been to both pantomime and drag performances. The two are nothing alike.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Many theaters have featured men in female roles based on their culture. Drag indeed is not at all that sort of theater. Still is theater in a form of it’s own.