Imagine living a life where every last aspect of your daily routine is monitored, tyrannized, ridiculed and judged. Society walking past you in despair – pure disbelief that they may be unable to dictate your gender based on your physical appearance. Standing in the checkout line at the local grocery store, hearing snarls from the heterosexual couple standing behind you. Making a mockery out of the art in which you were able to paint across your face, because that was once something that brought you happiness.
Until the world got a hold of you. Telling you that who you are as a person is wrong. Creating irony out of how you were born – to love those who love you. Isn’t that what we are taught as children while sitting around in the primary school classroom? Reading fairytale stories, learning the alphabet, counting to one hundred – all of the aspects that will ultimately teach you every last inkling of what grooms our adulthood. Never once reprimanded by who we had our first crush on, or what color of clothing we wore to school that day – if pink was too feminine for the boys, and blue being too masculine for the girls.
At age 6, we have no idea who our classmates return home to. A mom and dad, two moms, two dads, a single parent household, or grandparents – or if they have a home to return to at all. At age 6 we are taught how to barricade a door when an active shooter enters the school building. By age 7, we are fully equipped in the routine of trusting adults to keep us safe – even with the chance that the P.E. the teacher is a pedophile, and the librarian holds a stack of child pornography in their desk.
Today children are taught not to express themselves, limiting the word “gay” in an educational environment. Withholding potential information of clarity and resources from children who will eventually indulge in their truest self – regardless of the lack of proper terminology that is necessary to do so safely. No, today our school systems have taught children that playing dress up is limited to heterosexual people; Disney princesses are only to be portrayed by straight white women, yet prince charming is open to little boys of any race, age, or ethnicity. Involve sexuality into the equation and, well.
It is becoming a pattern.
On June 26th, 2015 the United States legalized same sex marriage – normalizing a human right, followed by the 14th amendment that advocates for the right of Americans to marry whomever they choose. That is two hundred and twenty-nine years of being told by an entire nation that you are not accepted because of whom you give your heart to.
For the last two centuries, heterosexuality was the only “normal” that the U.S. legislation agreed upon. Believing that by prohibiting a fundamental right to anyone who did not meet the standards, the possibility of anything different would disappear. Within that time, those who were not accepted began finding resources that made them feel as if who they were as a person was enough. Female impersonations have been a popular source of entertainment for over three centuries. In 1903, a formerly enslaved African American known as William Dorsey Swann was named the first Drag Queen after he and his friends began hosting cross-dressing events where he referred to the guests as “drags.” His role of leadership later gave him the nickname “Queen.” This has now elevated into what has recently started one of the biggest current uproars of the year 2023.
Lolita (she/her), a local Evansville Drag Queen, shed some light on her knowledge in the realm of drag by stating, “I believe that all children should get the privilege of seeing the art of drag in schools, libraries, and family friendly places! Being a queer kid and being lonely and feeling “different” from everyone, I never thought I’d have the love, acceptance, creativity, and ability to be my authentic self until I discovered drag at a very early age… Drag artists were my main reason for staying alive when I was younger, and now that I’m a drag performer myself it’s my duty and goal to make every child/teenager feel like they can do anything they want in the world. I want kids to feel like they are loved, important, and valued for being themselves. We are never trying to force anyone to be gay, transgender, or a drag queen, we just want to express our art and get our emotions out through performance and teach others that it’s okay and there is no danger in what we love to do!”
For years, Drag Queens have been viewed as a source of empowerment and acceptance to the LGBTQIA+ community. Since legalizing their right to marriage in 2015, Drag has grown majorly into a state of normalization within the queer community by performing street shows, festivals, birthday parties, and many other events. Drag is to be viewed as a form of self expression beyond sexuality, as many people in the community are not directly queer – many new performers are associated only by being an Ally, yet often join the queens in their performances in resourceful manners within theatre programs and artistry.
Over the years, drag has become scrutinized for being “too provocative.” Thus, parents have become concerned that by letting the queens into the school buildings, their children may be victimized. A recent social media post went viral across many platforms where a fully clothed Queen was presented reading a picture book to a classroom full of adolescents. This snowballed into parents demanding that legislation revokes their rights to drag as it could be “harmful” to the students; making parents believe that by allowing a man dressed as a princess to enter the school building, their children may mock the behaviors. Fearing that their child may to explore different parts of themselves, seeing someone so comfortably present themselves to society dressed as the non-acceptable.
Despite the media uproar for change, presenting possibilities of the queer community to children does in fact have its benefits. Allowing children to see the authenticity of the real world does not mean an impression amongst their minds – it opens a door for education, resources, and answers that may not be possible for all.
A local Evansville Queen from the well-known “Dolls of the District” has most recently became involved in volunteering with a local high school theatre program to which she spoke out on her opinion and stated, “When I first started working with the group of high schoolers I work with, I was honestly kind of nervous to share that I am a drag queen.” She went on to say,
“But then I thought about how I would’ve loved to have someone like me be so open about themselves to look up to when I was their age. I would’ve known who I was and felt comfortable sharing it with the world sooner if I would’ve had an example, or if I simply had known the vocabulary.”
Children have been placed on the forefront of defense while Queens across the nation have quickly begun being stripped of their rights, both as a performer and a human. As we have entered the early months of the newest year in the 21st century, it has been explicitly shown that legislation and government are moving backwards in time.
School shootings remain the leading cause of death for children in adolescence, school systems have stopped requiring a degree to become a teacher, and lessened the background requirements for hiring as a result of dire need.
If safety of the children was the biggest concern, why are the only changes in legislation being implemented upon those in the LGBTQIA+ community? Policy and change has yet to occur amongst firearms, precaution and security of those hired in as trusted school building officials are still being arrested for heinous crimes upon children; yet society is suffocated in the depths of slowly shredding away every last inkling of evolution that the U.S. has implemented in the last decade.
“If it’s about protecting the kids, why are we not doing anything about gun violence, the number one cause of death for American children? Why do the people concerned for a child who attends a story read by a person in completely appropriate clothing, who think that kids are too young to learn about queer people, who believe it is inappropriate for a child to be made aware of these things.” Bradlee Thomas stated.
“They deliberately use vague language to be homophobic and transphobic and not have to outwardly explain it. It’s not about protecting kids, it’s about keeping the power on their side, because in our modern reality, all of us feel powerless.”
We send our children to school to receive an education, direably wishing that our daughter becomes a doctor and our son an entrepreneur. Kissing their heads as they walk out of the front door and to the bus stop, promising an “I love you,” and wishing for them to have a good day – because you will be standing in that exact spot if they return home.
With a list of possibilities as to what your child may grow up to be, the fear that buries deepest inside of modern parenthood is surrounded by a singular haunting noun,
“Hey mom, I’m gay.”