Slaying Storytime

Drag queen, Liam Manchesthair, Reading the story “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.”

The month of October is not only home to Halloween, but also LGBTQ History Month.

The Special Collections Department of Stewart Library collaborated with Ogden Pride, a local organization dedicated to making queer people feel safe in Ogden, to put on a Halloween-themed drag story hour on Oct. 29.

The Special Collections Department started the “Queering The Archives” project to document and celebrate the queer community and history Northern Utah.

Because of this, Ogden Pride approached Sarah Langsdon, head of Special Collections at Weber State University about hosting the drag story hour.

Drag is a visual performance art that parodies traditional gender roles through exaggeration.

Drag queens are often gay men dressing up with disproportionate breasts and striking makeup. Drag kings are often queer women that have exaggerated bone structure and facial hair.

The kings and queens are characters or alter egos for those playing them. Their persona as a drag performer might be more bold, confident or even just a more amplified version of the performer.

Often, drag is mixed with dancing and singing, but since the mid-2010s, storytime events like this have become more popular, as well as other kinds of family-friendly drag events like drag brunches.

At the drag queen story hour, crafts for kids like bracelet and bookmark making were set up.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network was also present to give assistance to the teens who participated in the drag story hour. This network is an organization that helps both high schools and middle schools organize gay-straight alliance clubs and also to navigate the challenges of the current climate for LGBTQ youth.

Some wanted to know how to help those in the community feel more included and accepted after the Weber County Library declined hosting this event.

“Why are we questioning what people know in their hearts?” Melissa Willard, a member of GLSEN, said. “Let them be.”

At the event a group of drag kings and queens read stories about individuality, acceptance and community.

“It is important to remember those who have come before,” Ericka De’Lynn of the Imperial Rainbow Court of Northern Utah, said. “Just be yourself. Plain and simple, be yourself.”

De’Lynn chose to read “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” by Rob Sanders. This book chronicles the origins of the pride flag and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

De’Lynn also read “A Costume for Charly” by C.K. Malone, which is about a young kid who is trying to find a Halloween costume that shows both the feminine and masculine sides of their identity. As a solution, they make their own costume that the other kids at school compliment them on.

After the story hour, the kids went to play games and continue with their crafts while the older attendees talked and traded experiences as part of the LGBTQ community.

This allowed members of the community to connect with each other, find their shared experiences and know they’re not alone.

The WSU Stewart Library Special Collections department is working on making this a regular occurrence.