The Minnesota Hennepin County Library recently hired drag queen Russ King, an adult entertainer who is touring the country in a show called Gender Fluids, to read to young children.
The library is located in Richfield, Minnesota, King’s hometown, where he is considered a local celebrity.
A wonderful time with wonderful people at Augsburg Library Story Time in Richfield! My home, sweet home!!
According to Alpha News, King, aka “Miss Richfield 1981,” read several books to young children during the event, including Neither, a book that is now interpreted as having a “genderfluid” main character. At the end of his story-telling, King sang a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Alpha News reported:
The first book Russ read to the tots was called “Neither” – which explained how some people are neither a boy or a girl and are called “this or that or they.” The second book he read was called “Rainbow” – where he taught the kids the meaning behind every stripe in the LGB [sic] flag so they could pledge allegiance to the Rainbow Flag – not the American flag.
According to the report, King wore “a very short skirt and very high heels, and when he bent over, or his legs spread apart, he revealed his underwear to a dozen toddlers who sat before him.”
King “has his own website featuring hundreds of photos, where he is performing a variety of ‘acts’ on men in various stages of dress, which most would call ‘soft porn,’” Alpha News added.
The headline of the Minnesota Sun’s article about King’s story hour read, “Drag Queen Who Routinely Poses Half Nude Performed for Children in Richfield.”
The Star Tribune fawned over King’s Drag Queen Story Hour event, describing it as one that celebrates “a love of stories, dress-up and accepting people just the way they are.”
The report cast the librarians as brave and accepting and those who would protest an adult drag entertainer reading to young children as making “ugly talk”:
Richfield librarians were in force Saturday, dressed in their rainbow best and braced for trouble. Online, there had been ugly talk and threats of protests. Anyone who wanted to disrupt story time would have to get through a united front of book lovers in “All Are Welcome Here” shirts.
I am learning a LOT! pic.twitter.com/bO1BAgOPe3
— Jennifer Brooks (@stribrooks) September 28, 2019
The library announced its celebration of “LGBTQIA+ History Month” on its website.
— 🌈Friendly Librarian (@FriendLIbrarian) October 4, 2019
— Hennepin County Library (@hclib) October 3, 2019
“This is the third year that Hennepin County Library has celebrated LGBTQIA+ History Month, to celebrate members of our communities who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual, as well as others who don’t identify with a gender norm,” the website states.
Interim Library Director Janet Mills said the events at the library this month “provide an open, welcoming and positive space for children and their families to learn more about gender identity, roles, and expression.”
— Hennepin County Library (@hclib) October 4, 2019
The American Library Association (ALA) encourages Drag Queen Story Hour events and is supporting those libraries experiencing “pushback” from their communities.
The organization states:
ALA, through its actions and those of its members, is instrumental in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society. This includes a commitment to combating marginalization and underrepresentation within the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion.
“This year, we have received some negative feedback from a very small minority of people” Ashley Bieber, the county’s youth services librarian, apparently told the Tribune about the story hour event. “We encourage them to attend an event and see for themselves the joy and happiness it brings children and families in our community.”
The website of the Drag Queen Story Hour, an event targeting toddlers and young children, specifically states the purpose of the events is to provide children with “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.
The controversial drag queen events have stirred tensions in many cities throughout the country, such as Chula Vista, California, where an LGBT-activist city official said groups protesting the event were people who hold “white supremacist beliefs.”
Concerns about safety at the Drag Queen Story Hour events made headlines recently when Houston MassResistance discovered drag queen Alberto Garza, who uses the name Tatiana Mala-Nina when reading to young children, had been convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy. The Houston library system had failed to perform a background check on Garza or any of the other drag queens appearing in its programs.
Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, also faced backlash when it was found the library system had quietly removed from social media photos of the Drag Queen Story Hour that took place at one of its libraries during which young children were lying on top of the drag queens and fondling their false breasts.
Bieber said children “are usually completely delighted to see a performer who is so open and willing to embrace just the extreme of dress-up, which is something all children enjoy.”
“They’re just over the moon and fascinated,” she said.