US: Drag Queen’s Dream Of Reading Stories To Kids Sparks Outrage In North Carolina

A drag queen’s plan to encourage diversity by reading to children at a North Carolina library backfired this week after residents complained.

Brandon James, who goes by the drag name Princess Onya Mann and has been performing for 11 years, told local NBC affiliate WCNC last week that he’d applied to host a drag queen story hour at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. James, 30, appeared in a pink dress reminiscent of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and told WCNC that he was eager to host a story hour for kids because it would “open their minds to diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.” (Watch the full WCNC interview above.) 

The colorful concept of drag queens reading to children in libraries, bookstores and schools reportedly began in San Francisco in 2015, and has since become a popular event in New York and Los Angeles, according to The New York Times. James’s hope to offer something similar to youngsters in the Tar Heel State, however, were dashed shortly after the WCNC segment aired July 27.

The 30-year-old James, who currently resides in Pacolet, South Carolina but performs mainly in North Carolina, is gearing up for the release of his first children’s book, Auntie Bulli, this fall. He told HuffPost that he was “completely caught off guard” by the backlash that his plan received. “I was truly oblivious,” he said. “I mostly find it sad. I understand that super religious people would not be there supporting it, but to go the extra mile to fight it when you could just not come kinda shocked me!”

In an email to HuffPost, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Director of Marketing, Communications & Advocacy Cordelia B. Anderson said that the drag queen’s original proposal simply didn’t meet programming guidelines. “We have a very specific way that story times are delivered, following best practices in the library industry,” Anderson wrote, “and these are typically delivered by trained staff, following those practices.”

She noted that the library “offers programs other than story times,” and that James would be invited to present Auntie Bulli as part of the next Presenter Showcase, in which authors, artists and other specialists offer suggestions for future events, in January 2018. Read more via HuffPost