Chula Vista Library To Host Drag Queen Story Hour
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / September 10, 2019
Chula Vista Public Library will host Drag Queen Story Hour as planned Tuesday in spite of protests from local socially conservative organizations.
Speaker 1: 00:00 This afternoon. The Chula Vista Library will host an event that's become the focal point of protests in the community. Kids and parents will assemble for a drag queen. Story time events featuring drag queen performers reading a children's story times have been happening across the country. The idea is to let kids see and interact with different kinds of people and encourage a diverse community, but this story time is facing protests in the South Bay. Joining me are Rocca Lita. Hello, Hi and BBQ. Hey, two drag queens who will be reading to children this afternoon at the Civic Center Library in Chula Vista. Recollect the, let me start with you and today's story time in Chula Vista. Is that the first you've taken part in? Yes. This will be my first time participating in drag Queen Story time and I'm very excited. What are your planning for today's story time
Speaker 2: 00:56 barbecue and I will be reading two different books to the children and we'll be doing two lip sync performances.
Speaker 1: 01:04 Do the books that you choose to read also reflect diversity [inaudible]?
Speaker 2: 01:09 I believe they do because I'm, and some of the books that we were looking at, there's also, uh, themes that explore, uh, mixed race families, uh, and even diverse families. Uh, so I believe it, it touches on like different subjects. Uh, there's one book that even has like a Spanish words in it, so it's bilingual
Speaker 1: 01:31 [inaudible] barbecue. Why did you decide to get involved with this storytime program?
Speaker 3: 01:36 Well, I was really excited to get involved because I ate, kind of brings together a lot of my strengths in like life. You know, I really love the art of drag and I am also an educator. So this, uh, event was a w helped me bring together my strength as an educator and as somebody who, you know, loves drag and to be able to, uh, outreach to my community and hopefully inspire through this event is like really exciting for me.
Speaker 1: 02:04 Broccoli does the same question to you.
Speaker 2: 02:07 So for me it's, it's also about giving back to my community and also sharing my art and love for art. Uh, and in drag for me has really allowed me to heal and to really affirm my identity as a member from the LGBT community. And, uh, in my experience as a, also as an educator, I feel like it's, it's, there's something powerful about really, uh, embracing who you are and, and letting that sort of inspire other, uh, other youth. And so for us, uh, we've been performing outside of the bars, uh, for some time now and we've, we do a lot of community events where we get to perform in front of families and really expose the art of drag, uh, to, to them. And normally they wouldn't have access to that. So it's really unique for us to be able to have these sort of interactions. And it's been really lovely to see how the children respond to it. I mean, in the last couple of performances, like we'll have children coming up to us and in the middle of our performances and dance with us. So that's, that's really amazing for us to be able to see that, you know, we're helping to normalize, drag and normalize one part of our LGBT community, to, uh, to families and especially diverse families like Latino families. You said something
Speaker 3: 03:23 very interesting while you both have, but rapidly do, you said that this was a healing process. Drag had been a healing process for you, and I don't think a lot of people really understand that. Can you describe that a little bit more?
Speaker 2: 03:37 Yeah. So, um, growing up I've always been an artist. I've always been into like painting and drawing. And my last year of my undergraduate, uh, experience, I was actually diagnosed with a, uh, health condition. And so while I was in recovery from, uh, having a couple of surgeries, um, I was actually back in my hometown of San Diego and I was sort of just, you know, resting and trying to figure out my next steps for my career. And I was sort of looking into, um, just the creating art and I was really obsessed with Rupaul's drag race. Uh, so I started to kind of, um, you know, attend some of the local art show, um, drag shows and, and just kind of get a feel for what it looks like and I'd be friended, you know, some of the local drag queens and kind of, uh, started to create my own community, uh, within the drag scene.
Speaker 2: 04:29 And, uh, I learned about all the tricks and the makeup and making costumes and how to perform. And, um, throughout that process it really helped me heal, uh, you know, emotionally it, it kinda created a support system for me. Uh, but more than anything, I, I'm a firm believer that art heals, um, any sort of art. And that's, that's really what allowed me to kind of push forward and, and kind of motivated me to kind of look, look, look into the future about sort of the, the plants that I have for myself and the things that I wanted to create. Now Barbecue, the story hour is being criticized by a number of residents in some churches in the South Bay. What's your reaction to this? Controversial.
Speaker 3: 05:13 I, to me it's, it's sort of shocking in a sense. Um, you know, like, uh, growing up in San Diego, you know, I, I did experience a lot of these reactions in regards to, you know, like queer folk, right? And so for me it's shocking though to see how people are still misinformed. People aren't able to see like, uh, drag queens beyond these terms of like sex and sexuality. Um, when reality drag is an art, you know, and really the main purpose of the event is just to promote literacy in a community that really does need us as adults to promote literacy and to like outreach and volunteer. And I, to me, it's shocking that people can miss lead an event
Speaker 1: 05:57 that's the most promote literacy and education and make it into something that's, you know, make it seem like it's going to be something that's vulgar, you know, when it's adults, you know, coming back to their community and serving, you know, the youth, what would you say rec leader to parents who, who want to be open to this event but who have reservations about men dressed and made up as women reading two very young children.
Speaker 2: 06:25 Um, [inaudible] the, what I think is a, the most important thing for parents, you know, is that, you know, we as educators like we work and have a lot of experience working with youth. Um, you know, especially for us, like we work in a k through 12 school, so we have a lot of experience working with, uh, all sorts of, uh, students from different ages. So for us, we have that in mind and we know who our audiences, um, and we're just using our, our characters, uh, to create a different type of learning environment. Um, and, and it's not so different from having, you know, uh, other characters like, you know, I can think of like Disney characters or, uh, or, or artists, right, who were just entertaining, uh, children.
Speaker 1: 07:11 What are you hoping BBQ that the kids take away from today's event? I think they're really exposed to culture. I think there'll be exposed to a literacy program that will leave them thinking about the themes of love, acceptance, and um, you know, just being happy. Are you at all concerned about your safety in participating in this event, considering that it got so much pushback? [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 07:42 um, I think, uh, for me, I, there's a lot of emotions going on, but most importantly I feel there's a lot of love and support that has been, you know, coming our way and, and I feel that that's what's allowed us to remain focused and to really, uh, make us feel empowered. Uh, you know, it's, it's almost like our responsibility s a s a as LGBT, uh, people like, uh, it's, it's for, for me at least, it's about being able to set a precedent, you know, especially as for the South Bay community that doesn't have a lot of spaces, uh, for LGBT people. Uh, and, and hopefully it inspires other people to become involved. Uh, whether they're in the LGBT community or s allies or supporters to the community. I really hope that it just inspires people to, to be members, uh, that can help in solidarity with other communities that are different from theirs.
Speaker 1: 08:39 I have been speaking with Rocca Lita and BBQ two drag queens, so will be reading to children this afternoon at the Civic Center Library in Chula Vista. I want to thank you both so much for coming in and speaking with us. Thank you so much. A pleasure. Thank you. Yes. We reached to the group mass resistance, which is spearheading efforts to cancel the drag Queen Story Hour. They gave us a statement which says in part drag queen story hour is nothing more than a perverse attempt to teach falsehoods. About sex and gender to children, rather than teaching about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. The city, the library and the LGBT groups in the city fought to silence, marginalized and exclude the most important voices in this whole conflict. The parents and their children.