June 9, 2022 - 4:43pm

Do you remember the gentleman christened by Twitter “the rainbow dildo butt monkey”? He made a public appearance at Goodmayes Library in East London in July last year as part of a Drag Queen Story Hour event, dressed in a full technicolour monkey suit featuring fake bare buttocks and a pendulous dildo. His job, apparently, was to teach the children of East London how to read. 

With another summer comes another round of rainbow monkey business. Drag Queen Story Hour is touring the UK, though skipping Goodmayes Library, it seems – probably because the authorities in charge of last year’s event were forced to apologise after the public outcry. 

What was originally an American phenomenon — and one that has ignited considerable controversy — is now becoming firmly embedded in this country. Within walking distance of our home in London, there are several weekly drag events intended for preschoolers.

I will not be incorporating any of them into our son’s playgroup roster. Drag Queen Story Hour UK insists that their intention is to “show the world that being different is not a bad thing” and I have no objection to that. Showing children that gender non-conformity and same sex relationships are good and normal is a worthy lesson, and one that our son is receiving in spades. 

But drag is different, for the simple reason that it has always been a very sexualised form of entertainment, which until just five minutes ago was intended exclusively for adults. 

Photos from American story hour events show that Mr Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey is not alone in disregarding sexual boundaries. Drag events marketed at children have included strip tease performances, an exposed crotch, and drag queens taking money from little kids in front of a neon sign reading “It’s not gonna lick itself.

The video of this last debacle has been widely shared online, and the parents present look to be delighted with themselves. As are the proponents of so-called “drag pedagogy” who believe that they are championing a righteous cause. 

I doubt that any of the adults clapping like seals at strip shows for kids have any idea of where this kind of boundary breaking might lead – and in fact did lead only a few decades ago. This still recent history has been memory-holed, likely because it shows us so clearly that when you set out to break down sexual taboos, you shouldn’t be surprised when all taboos are considered fair game for breaking, including the ones you’d rather retain.

In my new book, The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, I dredge up this history. On the work of the Paedophile Information Exchange, for instance, and its American counterpart NAMBLA, which enjoyed many celebrity endorsements.  And the 1977 petition to the French parliament calling for the decriminalisation of sex between adults and children that was signed by a long list of famous intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and — that esteemed radical and father of Queer Theory — Michel Foucault.

This isn’t the first time that adults have prioritised their own desire for delicious rebellion over the interests of children.

Louise Perry is a freelance writer and campaigner against sexual violence.