A new scheme will see drag queens visiting primary schools and libraries in a bid to “challenge intolerance and homophobia at a young age”.
Based on an American project, Drag Queen Story Time’s organisers hope to start the scheme at this year’s Bristol Pride before rolling it out across the city.
Founder Tom Canham told the Bristol Post he has already managed to recruit 30 drag queens who are eager to take part in the project, which will see men dressed as women reading aloud “feminist fairytales and gender fluid novels for young children”.
He said: “For me the project is about drag queens providing fun and inclusive reading for children about issues around misogyny, homophobia, racism, LGBTQ and gender fluidity in a way which they can understand.
“Racism, homophobia, misogyny and the like are all learnt behaviours – we aren’t born with any form of hatred, you get taught it over time. And if projects like these can go some small way to helping prevent or curtail that, then it can only be a good thing.”
Canham said that whilst most people have responded positively to the project, it has received backlash from a minority of critics who have accused him of being a paedophile and encouraging children to think they are homosexual.
The 25-year-old call centre worker asserted that such comments are the “kind of negativity we are trying to change” with the project.
Drag Queen Story Time has two sessions lined up in the near future, and Canham is currently soliciting donations for the project on Crowdfunder to buy books and DBS checks.
The scheme’s aim, according to its crowdfunding campaign page, is to “capture the imagination and fun of the gender fluidity of childhood, while giving children a glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role model”.
As well as hoping Drag Queen Story Time can help bring an end to “intolerance and homophobia”, Canham said he believes the project will also benefit the drag queen “scene”.
“I have had interest from a variety of different queens – from young and old, drag veterans to really fresh queens — so I think it will be a really positive experience to help foster new drag talent too,” he told the Bristol Post.