CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Drag Queen Story Hour has gained popularity across the U.S. and a local version will soon begin in South County San Diego. “Drag Queen Storytime” is a partnership between the city of Chula Vista and San Diego Pride and the South Bay Alliance, but some critics say it sends the wrong message.
Strawberry Corn Cakes is a proud drag performer who says the program is all about promoting creativity and literacy.
"Drag is a part of life we all get into character we all get into this and that,” Strawberry said.
But others feel otherwise and the program at Chula Vista's Otay Ranch Library is being questioned.
"It’s inappropriate to be introducing a drag queen at a story hour to kids that haven't even learned how to read,” said South Bay Pentecostal Church pastor Amado Huizar.
Huizar, a pastor, father and part of the Salt and Light Council - a religious group that “defends marriage” - is upset about the storytime pointing to the description on the library calendar
"The website is very clear on the purpose to indoctrinate the drag queen movement to younger children,” he said.
Strawberry Corn Cakes says they only thing they are pushing is reading.
"It's a little unsettling and sad to see that people tie things into something as simple as reading a book to a child,” she said.
Conservative group MassResistance held a rally conference Thursday at the Chula Vista main library voicing their opposition to the storytime. Members of the group Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays held a counter protest. People on both sides interfaced with one another while Chula Vista police were on scene to keep the crowd under control.
The city of Chula Vista sent a statement that says, in part, “Hosting drag queens to read and relate with children sends a message of acceptance and tolerance." [See full statement below.]
"I am not wanting to come across angry, I'm not upset,” said Huizar. “I am more shocked.”
"If I had somebody when I was younger to read to me, I would remember that,” said Strawberry Corn Cakes. “It’s cool to be artistic and it’s cool to be creative.”
Strawberry Corn Cakes hadn't planned to read at storytime but because of her voicing her support the Chula Vista library reached out to include her. And also because of all this attention Strawberry says the library at University Heights has reached out to her to promote Drag Queen Storytime.
Openly gay Chula Vista City Council member, Steve Padilla posted the following statement about Drag Queen storytime on his Facebook page:
The City of Chula Vista’s greatest strength is our diversity and sense of community. Throughout our history residents of many backgrounds, ideas, and perspectives have lived, worked, and played side by side and supported one another. Today, however, we are challenged to reaffirm these values.
I am disappointed that some voices both from inside and outside our community have chosen to use the upcoming Drag Queen Storytime as an opportunity to perpetuate long discredited false and discriminatory narratives targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the name of protecting children. This is wrong and must be called out for what it is – the spreading of ignorance, fear, and hate. Much of this fearmongering is being organized by the local chapter of a nationally known hate-group which promotes not just anti-LGBTQ beliefs, but also anti-immigrant and white supremacist beliefs. These ideas and tactics do not reflect the community I love and serve.
Despite this, our community’s public spaces are open to all no matter their color, creed, or political beliefs. Our libraries are critical to our community’s well-being and serve as places that provide access to a wealth and diversity of information, ideas, and thought. This Storytime event is among many designed to foster a love of reading, and most importantly of all -to model the importance of diversity in learning, love, and civility.
The full statement from the city of Chula Vista on “Drag Queen Storytime”:
"The Chula Vista Public Library welcomes everyone, and our extensive programming includes and reflects the diverse communities we serve. Hosting drag queens to read and relate with children sends a message of acceptance and tolerance. The Drag Queen Storytimes is sponsored in partnership with San Diego Pride and South Bay Alliance. The event emphasizes play, fun and imagination. We support every parent's decision to select the programs and services their children engage in at the library. Like many events at the library, the Drag Queen Storytimes requires registration/sign up to participate. Anyone who participates has chosen to attend.
This is not the first time the library has supported our LGBTQIA+ community. In the past months we have hosted PRIDE films during PRIDE month and featured a speaker panel with the LGBTQIA+ community (in partnership with the South Bay Historical Society and the Lambda Archives.
Chula Vista Public Library staff have implemented the same review process required of all one-time library performers, which includes checking references and reviewing previous history of events and relevant professional affiliations. Like other events held at the library, staff are present at all times during the performance. No physical contact is allowed between any performers and underage attendees."