VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Gillette Black hopes to serve as a positive role model to kids by volunteering for the Drag Queen Story Hour program.
“I just want them to be able to learn, get more involved with reading and learn that it’s okay to be whoever you want to be,” said Gillette, who started dressing in drag two years ago.
The first event will be held at 10 a.m. on July 28 at the TCC/Virginia Beach Joint-Use Library. All 35 seats are taken, but the library has started a waiting list online.
Katie Cerqua, the library system’s youth and family services manager, says inclusion and diversity are the two lessons she hopes kids take away from the national program.
“I feel great about bringing it here,” said Cerqua. “Libraries from our very beginning were there to make sure people had access to information and knowledge and resources to better their lives. This just fits right in with what libraries do as a whole.”
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Parents tell WAVY.com they are on board with the idea, but they also understand potential concerns.
“That way [kids] are not so judgy,” said Jennifer Grant, a mother of two. “I can think of some parents and families that wouldn’t want to show them … but the more they don’t know they are not going to understand what the world around them is about.”
Cerqua says the reading events are an opt-in program, meaning participants must pre-register, and they will be held in a closed room to avoid any distractions.
“Our eyes are open that there are some people who may not be happy about it, but we are feeling pretty good about having it,” said Cerqua. “I really believe in access and equity for everyone in our community.”
Gillette says there is “always negativity” surrounding the LGBT community, especially with drag queens because they draw attention to themselves.
She believes her presence at the library will teach youngsters that “they don’t need to hate because someone is different than them.”
Gillette will participate in at least two more reading events at the Joint-Use Library on Aug. 25 and Sept. 29. Registration will open two weeks before both events.
For more information on the national Drag Queen Story Hour program, click here.