What is Drag Queen Story Hour NYC?

Drag Queen Story Hour NYC (DQSH NYC) is the New York City chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour—a global network of drag performers reading to kids all over the world! Inspired by the first DQSH event in San Francisco in 2015, DQSH NYC was formed in August 2016 and is now a nonprofit organization that produces around 200 events a year in all five boroughs of the city, serving over 4000 kids a year. Through storytelling and creativity, DQSH NYC teaches children about gender diversity and all forms of difference to build empathy and give kids the confidence to express themselves however they feel comfortable. Read more about our programming here.

DQSH_ Paradise at Camp Alamander at the

What is a drag queen?

Drag is an artistic way of expressing yourself and showing the world who you are or who you want to be. Drag queens often express their feminine sides or different aspects of their gender or personality through dressing up, performing, marching in parades, and volunteering in their communities. There are drag queens, drag kings, drag princes, and drag princesses—anyone can be any of the above, regardless of how they identify in everyday life! All that matters is that, when you dress up, you feel comfortable and creative.

Why do kids love drag queens so much?

Children and drag queens have a lot in common. They love to dress up and use their imaginations to create awesome looks and express different sides of themselves. It’s no wonder they get along so well!

Should I call the drag queen “he,” “she,” “they,” or something else?

You can ask! It’s always OK to ask someone what their pronouns are. Examples of pronouns are “she,” “he,” and “they.” Some people have different pronouns at different times, like when they are in drag and out of drag. Others have the same pronouns all the time.

What is your agenda?

Our agenda is simple: we believe that people of all ages should be free to express themselves however they want, free from the constraints of prescribed gender roles. In other words, there’s no such thing as “girl clothes” and “boy clothes,” or “girl toys” and “boy toys.” DQSH teaches children that there are many ways to express themselves and their gender, and they are all OK.  Of course, drag is an art form that is rooted in diverse LGBTQ communities, and we support equality, justice, and respect for all people—for us, that’s just a given. Given that LGBTQ people are present in every community, we believe that children deserve to be exposed to these aspects of our shared history and culture, in age appropriate ways. Any insinuation that we have an agenda to indoctrinate children misunderstands LGBTQ experiences and is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.

Why is DQSH necessary?

DQSH helps children develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity. DQSH can also be life-changing and ultimately life-saving for LGBTQ kids and teens, kids with LGBTQ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture.

Should children be exposed to issues like gender fluidity?

Most children naturally explore gender identity and norms through imaginative play. However, too often gender norms are socially enforced at all ages, from the colors or clothes we’re supposed to wear to the toys kids are allowed to play with to the kinds of jobs we’re trained for.  DQSH teaches children to follow their passions and embrace gender diversity in themselves and others. This helps to curb bullying of LGBTQ kids and kids who may be perceived as different in all kinds of ways.

Isn’t this confusing for children? What if my children have questions and I don’t know the answers?

Adults don’t always have the answers, but we can ask questions and learn together. We created The Dragtivity Book to help adults and kids explore drag, gender, and identity together. There are also a number of organizations that provide resources for talking to kids about gender and other topics. [Resources coming soon.]

How is your organization funded?

DQSH NYC programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.  Our programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Our programs are also supported by individual members of the NYC Council.

How do you choose which books to read?

We are constantly updating our book list with input from librarians, teachers, parents, caregivers, and kids. Our storytellers read a mix of surefire readalouds and books that touch on gender identity and all forms of difference. We strive to read books that are accessible and fun, and books that are created by and center LGBTQ+ communities and people of color. If you would like to recommend a book for us to add to our list, please email nyc@dragqueenstoryhour.org and include as much information as possible about the book.

I’m a book author or publisher. Can you read my book at DQSH?

Please send a PDF of your book to nyc@dragqueenstoryhour.org. We’ll get back to you to request copies for our storytellers if it’s a good fit.

Are you providing in-person or virtual programs during the Covid-19 pandemic?

As of September 2021, we are producing both in-person and virtual programs.