Although it was a simple storytime to the children listening, Thursday night’s Drag Queen Storytime and Show had much more meaning behind it.
Put on by WVU’s LGBTQ+ Center and held in the Mountainlair’s Gluck Theatre, the event spotlighted two local drag queens — Dimitria Blackwell and Robin Hearts-Love — as they read to the children and parents of the audience and followed it with a show. All of which was done with one goal in mind: increasing literacy and acceptance.
“It’s about hope,” Hearts-Love said. “Literacy is the main focus of everything... but it’s beyond that. It’s about hope; it’s about learning to create a better world for those around you.”
Blackwell and Hearts-Love said events such as these can help people to feel less alone in the world, stressing the importance of self-love as they read to the audience of about 100 people.
The readings included children’s books “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Stellaluna” and were followed by a surprise reading from the “Elephant and Piggie” series, with every child hugging the stuffed animals they were given as they found their seat.
The children had a choice of blue, pink or yellow stuffed animals, and filled the room with a gasp and then laughter as the caterpillar transformed into a butterfly during the first reading. Then, it was time for the real show as Blackwell came out singing and dancing to “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”
The duo said Blackwell handcrafted many of the costumes for the show that looked to dispel differences among people.
“I think what we find is that we’re so much more alike than we’re ever different,” Blackwell said. “To be able to showcase that through drag — I don’t expect that every swear we read or even that our [YouTube] channel is a good fit for every family, but we want to be an option out there so that people can feel included.”
Thursday night’s Storytime and Show followed one originally scheduled to be held at the Morgantown Public Library in November, which was canceled after threats of violence.
“It was a complete [180-degree turn] from the way the last event went,” Hearts-Love said of the November event. “Other than a few [threats] here and there, it’s been supportive and loving and wonderful.
“It was amazing for me to be able to see the kids come in and not have to deal with people with hateful signs and saying hateful things that their parents would have to explain to them.”