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From “story hour” to lewd clubbing with the queens

Mark Hemingway | A Pride Month event in Dallas exposes young children to explicit sexual behavior


A Drag Queen Story Hour at the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in New York in July 2019 Associated Press/Photo by Mary Altaffer (file)

From “story hour” to lewd clubbing with the queens

In case you missed the controversy, as part of last week’s Pride Month celebration in Dallas, there was an event that raised more than a few eyebrows. The headline for one local news story was “Dallas protesters show up to ‘Drag the kids to pride’ family-friendly drag show,” but I’m not sure that’s accurate, at least when it comes to “family-friendly.”

If you must, you can watch a video from the event here, but in sum, toddlers were brought into a gay club to hand out dollar bills to a bunch of men provocatively prancing around in lingerie in front of a pink neon sign communicating a phrase we cannot repeat here. This is apparently what the media thinks is “family-friendly” entertainment these days.

However, even among the most committed free speech advocates—and I have written tens of thousands of words over the years to demonstrate my commitment to free speech—I’m hardly alone in thinking that any cultural truce over the display of explicit sexual content has to stop at the water’s edge of child welfare. Further, journalist Andy Ngo, who has reported critically on the event, is gay, and a great many other homosexuals I know are alarmed at the sexualizing of children done in the name of gay pride. (Also, just going to put this out there—if you want to foster tolerance, maybe don’t name your civil rights movement after one of the Seven Deadly Sins?)

Way back in the seemingly more innocent days of 2019, there was an infamous debate between Catholic pundit Sohrab Ahmari and evangelical pundit David French over “drag queen story hours,” which started the practice of exposing drag queens to kids in San Francisco libraries in 2015 and has spread across the country since.

Ahmari’s position was pretty blunt: “If you can’t see why children belong nowhere near drag, with its currents of transvestic fetishism, we have nothing to say to each other. We are irreconcilably opposed. There’s no polite, David French-ian third way around the cultural civil war.”

And French’s counterargument at the time had to be taken seriously: “I don’t like drag queen reading hours, but I also want to preserve for all Americans the First Amendment–protected right of viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities when those facilities are opened up for public use.”

The event in Dallas clearly shows how tolerating “drag queen story hour” was just a matter of waxing down the toboggan to go down the slippery slope of morality.

People had strong opinions on both sides of this debate three years ago, but if what was going on wasn’t clear then it should be clear now. Assuming good intentions and mutual tolerance isn’t going to resolve this conflict.

For one thing, this latest event happened in Texas, not San Francisco. Last year, the Lone Star State passed a law forbidding anyone under the age of 18 from entering the premises of a sexually oriented establishment. And yet, the people who showed up just to protest were being physically confronted by left-wing supporters of the event, as well as being stopped by police who should have been enforcing the law (warning: The video clip includes vulgar language). But since current laws may not be explicit enough, a Texas state lawmaker has already promised to file legislation specifically banning drag shows for kids.

Further, the event in Dallas clearly shows how tolerating “drag queen story hour” was just a matter of waxing down the toboggan to go down the slippery slope of morality. Setting aside Ahmari’s concern about “currents of transvestic fetishism,” there were those who were willing to defend drag queen story hour as little more than putting on a costume to read a book to kids. Looking at this event in Dallas, along with numerous other controversies that have occurred in the last few years, it’s pretty clear that some substantial portion of the left thinks it’s beneficial to expose children at very young ages to explicit sexual behavior.

But beneficial to whom? At this point, if you think there’s a serious cultural project to undermine the nuclear family, you’re not paranoid—you’re paying attention. In many respects, parental rights are one of the last bulwarks against totalitarian uses of government power. And what are parents for, if not to protect their children from exposure to sexual behavior, while eventually shepherding them through the age-appropriate rites of passage from dating to marriage? If you think young kids are autonomous enough that they don’t need to be protected from being exposed to sexual behavior, you’re arguing against the fundamental need for parents.

If men want to put on women’s clothes and dance provocatively in a private club, you may not like it but they are consenting adults. But the moment they start bringing young children through the door, don’t think twice—shut it down.


Mark Hemingway

Mark Hemingway is a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations and the books editor at The Federalist. He was formerly a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Examiner, and a staff writer at National Review. He is the recipient of a Robert Novak Journalism fellowship and was a two-time Global Prosperity Initiative Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He was a 2014 Lincoln Fellow of The Claremont Institute and a Eugene C. Pulliam Distinguished Fellow in Journalism at Hillsdale College in 2016. He is married to journalist and Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, and they have two daughters.

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