Glenwood Springs’ first drag storytime was a success
Tiaras, arts, crafts and flags were all a lively part of an all-inclusive storytime event.
“The goals of drag storytimes are to inspire a love of reading while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, inclusion, self-love and an appreciation of others,” said Kaleb Cook, the founder of Cook Inclusive Company.
The valley’s own Roaring Fork Divas read for the storytime Saturday, April 15, hosted by Cook Inclusive Company at the Bluebird Cafe in Glenwood Springs.
“I think it’s so amazing the work that they’re doing to provide visibility and love in our area,” said Steve Arauza, a local parent who attended the event with his family.
Each Diva picked the stories they told, and they were all centered on self-love, inclusivity and even some of the origins of Pride and backstories of queer heroes, like the story of late California politician Harvey Milk, “the most famous and most significant openly LGBT official ever elected in the United States,” Milk’s final campaign manager, Anna Kronenberg, said in 2002.
Diva Thelma Thunderthighs said that it is crucial to remember the people who have laid the path for others today.
“I think it’s so good to look at the good, but it’s imperative to know that our history is not the proverbial rainbows,” they said. “We’ve had dark times, and that was a dark time. It’s important for the kids to know not to dwell on that, but to know we’ve come a long way.”
The Divas and Cook also added a fun aspect by reading the books in both English and Spanish, along with having American Sign Language.
Steven and Hanna Arauza, his wife, said they try to teach their children Spanish and practice at home regularly. Steven said that having the Divas read the books in both languages added an extra level of meaning for them.
Hanna said the event was exuberant and the environment felt safe, inviting and relaxing, and Cook later said that therapeutic recreation is exactly that, just as much for parents as children.
Therapeutic recreation creates a space where parents can connect and listen to stories, and find like-minded people in the same situation as their child might be in, Cook said.
Some of the literature also highlighted the importance of visibility.
“Visibility can be lifesaving,” Cook’s drag storytime information stated. “It holds space for anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture. Visibility teaches that there are many ways to express ourselves and all are OK and is an amazing way to teach individuality, empathy and acceptance.”
Drag is one of the most liberating forms of self-expression, Cook said. It’s a form of art used to escape reality, like with any other form of art.
Although the topic of drag queens has recently become politically polarized, Steve and Hanna saw no reason the event would be an unsafe place for their children.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, shared tweets last year telling drag queens to stay out of her district with storytimes and recently posted divisive tweets against the trans community.
If anything, the Arauzas joined Bluebird Cafe Justin Bishop in being more concerned about the people who have political opinions against the Divas and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“There was nothing about that event that was inappropriate for my children,” Steven said. “It is highly inappropriate for bigoted people to sexualize children’s events for political gain, which was the reason why we had to have security as a thing in the first place.”
Because of the political polarization, all of the event organizers took some extra levels of security to keep both the Divas and the children safe.
Bishop said that being a military brat made those extra precautions easy for him and that he will always be happy to spend the extra money on safety.
The event was held peacefully.
“I would love to be in a world where these events happen all the time with advertisement and community support, and that folks who would choose not to attend them, simply don’t attend them,” Steve said. “We’re happy to support the work of the Divas and those who are doing the work to build community, and to protect the most vulnerable among us, which includes the LGBTQ community, as well as children and the monolingual Spanish-speaking community.”
Bishop also stressed keeping and creating more safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies in whatever way he can.
“It’s important to be able to see and celebrate the beautiful diversity that we have here,” Steve said. “This is an explosion of color and love that children would really miss out on if they’re unable to attend, let alone if these events are being demonized in politics.”
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