I’m sure many of us have often thought that what’s missing from the early-years curriculum are men with plastic tits and spangly dresses reading books. But fear not, SNP MP Mhairi Black is on a mission to right this crushing injustice, championing the rights of queer-identifying five-year-olds across Scotland.
Last month, Black accompanied Nathan Mullen, a drag queen who performs under the name ‘FlowJob’, to Glencoats primary school to mark LGBT History Month. Mullen does work for an initiative for kids called ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ (DQST). And in addition to reading to reception classes at Glencoats, the pair educated the children about Section 28, a law introduced in 1988 (now repealed) that banned the ‘promotion of homosexuality’.
Shortly after the visit, it became apparent that Mullen’s social media was full of adult content. A gale-force Twitterstorm erupted, with the Glencoats’ headteacher, Mullen and Black accused of failing in their duty to protect children. Predictably, those who questioned the rationale behind inviting an adult entertainer into a primary school were smeared as bigots. Black tweeted that the criticisms were homophobic, and that a visit from a gay MP and drag queen when she was at school ‘would have made an immeasurable difference’ to the ‘difficult childhoods’ endured by her and her ‘LGBT classmates’.
Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 UTC - Details) Unlike Black and Mullen, I came of age under Section 28, and I never want to see people hidden away or made to feel ashamed of who they love. But it is fair to ask who exactly benefits from DQST – because, arguably, it isn’t children.
Pioneered by ‘queer activist’ Michelle Tea, DQST events were first trialled in 2015 at a public library in San Francisco. Now it has migrated over to Britain, too. Last month the British Library promoted an event with children’s drag entertainer Alyssa Van Delle, calling Van Delle a ‘hot’ performer who will ‘have you on the edge of your seat and gagging for more’.
DQST claims to offer ‘queer role models’ to children. But despite the popularity of its events, it remains unclear how a man in a lurid frock will make kids with two mums feel supported, or how DQST serves to stop the bullying of kids who don’t conform. Britain is a remarkably tolerant country and many children will have a same-sex couple somewhere in their family; aunties Clare and Kate are likely to be better role models than adult entertainers with X-rated social-media feeds.
DQST has been widely praised as ‘teaching tolerance’, but one of the great things about young children is that they don’t really have any preconceptions to challenge. DQST seems just to be an opportunity for straight middle-class parents to feel worthy and to bond over a post-performance soy macchiato.