Hidden in the back of Blue Dahlia Bistro lies a small garden. Normally serving as a popular spot for brunch, last Saturday the garden became home to something entirely new and colorful: Drag Queen Story Hour.
DQSH is an organization that encourages diversity and acceptance while providing children with unabashedly queer role models through readings led by drag queens. The group seeks to inform kids about what a drag queen truly is: an artist who shows the world who they choose to be. The organization was founded by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco.
Nix Nova, the founder of the San Marcos DQSH chapter, previously did drag under the name Madylin Monroe Kennedy. Nova said they are glad people have an interest in bringing their children to this event.
“People called me gay before I even knew what gay meant—turns out they were right,” Nova said. “I think it’s great for kids to see people express themselves in different ways.”
The event took place at 4 p.m. March 23 and lasted for about 45 minutes. Both Chitah Daniels Kennedy and Molly Hayes performed for an audience of kids, parents and passerby’s alike. The crowd consisted of about 20 children and their families. Kennedy read two books and Hayes sang, danced and played guitar.
Kennedy is the entertainment director and “drag mother” to many young prospective drag queens at Stonewall Warehouse. She has been involved with drag for 23 years, but said she was nervous to perform in front of children, even with her two nephews in the audience.
“Kids are a tough audience,” Kennedy said. “I just needed to tap into my own inner child again and have fun and be in the moment. Often, you’re not in the moment when you’re performing in a nightclub.”
Kennedy read two books, “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae, and “What Do You Do with an Idea” by Kobi Yamada. Hayes sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “My Name is Joe” and “The Magic Penny,” which she dedicated to a friend.
Hayes, who works as a barista at Wake the Dead Coffeehouse, said Mr. Rogers was a great influence on her as a kid and helped Hayes to accept herself.
“I think everyone is so unique in this world,” Hayes said. “I think the more that kids are exposed to different kinds of people, the more accepting they grow up to be.”
DQSH has several chapters all over the U.S. and boasts a few abroad in Sweden, Japan and Puerto Rico. Currently, the only DQSH chapter in Texas is San Marcos.
Several of the guests heard about DQSH on the way in and decided to join, not knowing what to expect. Two of the audience members, Emili Broyles and Kelly Palella, stumbled upon the show accidentally.
“It was awesome, and they did incredible,” Palella said. “(Kennedy) was such a good storyteller and it was so fun.”
Nova said they hope to host a fourth DQSH in September, but do not have concrete plans set yet. More information about upcoming events can be found www.dragqueenstoryhour.org.