By James Matthews
Drag Queen Storytime exemplifies Haliburton County Public Library’s core values.
Public libraries are forever bastions of free expression where diverse voices are accessible to everybody. And, in concert with Minden Pride Week 2022, drag performer Auntie Plum will enthrall local children and their parents with stories of inclusion.
The story time takes place Aug. 25 at the library’s Minden Hills branch starting 3 p.m. This is the fourth year for the event in Haliburton County.
Drag Queen Storytime events have become popular the world over, said Christopher Stephenson, the county library’s CEO and chief librarian.
He said the story time is a good fit in that the library’s core public values include intellectual freedom.
“So it’s making sure that everyone sees themselves represented at the library,” he said.
Another of the library’s core values is to promote respectful communication.
“And that’s important,” Stephenson said.
The stories chosen are often about how it’s okay to be different from other children.
“It infuses fun,” he said. “There’s still songs and a craft, in most cases. It’s a story time with a bit more colour and sometimes glitter.”
Many dozens of people have shown up in past years on the day of the event.
“This is a fabulous family-friendly event,” he said. “On the day, we have typically a full house.”
Despite that, there’s been rumbles of opposition to the event. New to this year, Stephenson said libraries all across Ontario have received phone calls and comments from people who are against the Drag Queen Storytime.
“And we’re no exception,” Stephenson said, and described a conversation he’d had about a month ago with a detractor.
Common gripes include people asserting that hosting the story time at a public library is a waste of taxpayers’ money or that such displays aren’t suitable for children.
“At the end of the day, the parents decide that,” Stephenson said. “We don’t have three- and five-year-olds showing up at the library by themselves. It’s a family friendly event.”
Allan Guinan, the Minden Pride chairperson, in a press release said, at its heart, the Drag Queen Storytime illustrates an important facet of life.
“The stories being read to the children will address ideas of free expression and underline the importance of being open and accepting of everyone regardless of their differences,” Guinan said.