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    Tuesday, December 06, 2022

    The republic will survive drag queens

    Drag queens are men who perform dressed up as women. Once an underground art form, drag shows have gone mainstream. Today they are widely regarded as innocent fun: The wildly popular "RuPaul's Drag Race" is in its 14th season.

    So accepted has this kind of entertainment become that some public libraries are holding drag queen story times. These are events where men dressed as women read to children, usually in a gentle, motherly manner. (Chances are most 4-year-olds won't even get that the reader is a guy.)

    Not everyone approves.

    I asked a liberal friend, a man totally comfortable with gay friends, whether he would bring his son to such a reading. He said, "No" but added, "On the other hand, I don't have to go."

    Choosing to attend or to not attend would seem a good policy for all kinds of people regarding all kinds of gatherings. For the record, though, serious research concludes that sexual orientation is almost surely caused by biological factors that start before birth. In other words, you can't turn a "straight" person gay.

    Anti-drag-reading activists in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere are obviously not reading the literature. Their version of cancel culture is to outlaw such drag events.

    The Idaho Family Policy Center is pushing a bill that would ban all drag performances in public state places. As its president, Blaine Conzatti, told the Idaho Capital Sun, drag acts represent a sexualized representation of gender.

    Question: Do you regard Mother Goose as sexy? If these readers for children came dressed as Lauren Boebert in crotchy jeans or Ginni Thomas flaunting her bounteous cleavage, they might have a point. But the personas at reading hour tend toward grandma.

    "The motivation of dragging is typically not sexual," The Encyclopedia Britannica explains. That differentiates it from cross-dressing, which "transvestites" do.

    Another question: Do you object to violent far-right groups meeting in parks or other public spaces? Because they do. And so how did you feel about the white supremacists in the Patriot Front arrested on their way to menacing a Pride in the Park event in Coeur d'Alene?

    This was not an isolated act. In June, the far-right Proud Boys stormed a children's reading hour at a library in San Lorenzo, California. These defenders of masculine virtue didn't encounter much in the way of resistance from the 4-year-olds and their moms.

    A group of right-wing protesters brought guns to a drag queen story hour at a Eugene, Oregon, pub. A bar happens to be private property.

    Nowadays, drag queens perform at corporate and charity events. In a 2000 comedy sketch, Rudy Giuliani frolicked in a blond wig and racy dress. Donald Trump pressed his face in the then-mayor's chest. Giuliani called Trump "a dirty boy" and slapped him. "Well, you can't say I didn't try," Trump said. Most everyone thought that was funny.

    And it was hilariously funny when Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis went drag as "Daphne" and "Josephine" in "Some Like It Hot" or Dustin Hoffman wore a red sequined gown to get an acting role in "Tootsie." And did any sane person think that Robin Williams was "grooming" children when he dressed as a family housekeeper in "Mrs. Doubtfire"?

    Classic children's books also include scenes of boys wearing girls' clothes. Huckleberry Finn dressed as a girl named Sarah. If that's terrible, the school library should take Mark Twain off its shelves -- assuming it hasn't already.

    In sum, parents who want to bring their children and themselves to drag queen reading hours should have every right to do so. Those who don't like these events don't have to go.

    Wherever you stand, rest assured: The republic will survive drag queens.

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