The Jewish Museum of Maryland hosted Drag Queen Story Hour online last Sunday afternoon, June 7.
The program introduced “people who have not been on the planet very long” to people who may not look like them in honor of Pride Month, according to the featured drag queen, Bambi Galore, who uses they pronouns.
“Just as you dress up and pretend to be a superhero, we pretend to be a queen,” they said in a joyful voice.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland decided to invite Galore to celebrate Pride Month, according to Trillion Attwood, programs manager. Galore was inspired by a desire to show kids representation.
Galore is a parent of a 3-year-old, but even before parenthood, they were hosting drag story hours. Spirituality is another motivation. “How can we as a faith community come together in respect? I believe we all want a better world,” Galore said.
Last year, Galore started to organize an official Baltimore branch of the national Drag Queen Story Hour. Now, they coordinate events, vet the readers, and verify that all storytime books have a message of empathy, inclusion, diversity, acceptance, and making the world better.
Galore’s book choices at Sunday’s event reflected these positive messages. The first book was “This Day in June,” which mesmerized the children with its colorful photos of balloons, marching bands, flags, and taught the kids about Pride Month. Galore explained that, just five years ago, not everyone had the right to marry and that June, Pride Month, is an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s diverse identities and rights.
Then, Galore read “It’s OK to be Different,” a book about acceptance. The group first shared their own differences.Kids energetically held up hand counts of how many teeth they’d lost. Others more shyly simply messaged the number in the Zoom chat.
The book included statements like, “It’s OK to be a different color,” or “It’s OK to eat mac & cheese in the bathtub.” Contagious smiles spread between parents and kids.
The storytime ended with a song.
“I know the big people will like this,” Galore teased, beginning a remix of “Baby Shark.” Within seconds, everyone on the call was singing and dancing along, “Wash your hands, doo doo doo,” and dabbing to “Cough into your elbow.”
Any other year, Galore would spend almost every day of June doing drag with either the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, story hours at bookstores, and other events. Because of the pandemic and protests, this was their only event to celebrate Pride Month this year. Galore said they would focus on activism instead.
You can catch some of Galore’s colleagues, such as Pariah Sinclair or Washington Heights on their Facebook streamings Wednesdays, or drag king Chris J.’s daily morning show “Coffee with Chris.”
A few years ago, most people didn’t even know what drag was. “When I started doing drag, myself as an assigned-at-birth female, half the conversation was about these assumptions of drag,” Galore said. Now, because of things like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the popularity of Pride Month, Galore and other drag performers are able to have these events.
“Being a drag performer, you do take on the mantle of activism,” Galore said. “As we are an image, people see us first because we are so different, so we must stand up to injustice or people being othered just as we are othered.”