Libraries, Drag Queens and Culture Wars

by James A. Bacon

As a conservative with libertarian leanings, I have no quarrel with drag queens. If men want to dress like women… that’s not my thing, but it’s a free country. If men like to dress like women and sing in night clubs, that’s fine, too. Some are very entertaining — and they aren’t hurting anybody. But I draw the line at normalizing cross dressers with children. And I do have a problem with public, tax-funded libraries hosting drag queen storybook hours for kids.

Hunter Hollar, a resident of Crozet in Albemarle County, has similar reservations. When the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library hosted a virtual program, “Drag Makeup for Teens,” he objected. He finds it amazing that the library, instead of promoting great books and artistic material, would “see fit to involve teens in drag make-up.”

He wrote the library to express his concerns. R. Timothy Carrier, young adult services manager, wrote him back. The library’s mission, he said, is to foster “personal growth and life-long learning for all by connecting people with ideas, information, and each other.”

If you thought of libraries as mere repositories of books accessible to the public, you are very much out of date. Yes, books still have a prominent place, but librarians see their role as community facilitators now…. fostering personal growth and life-long learning. I’m willing to stand corrected, but in my observation the “personal growth” and “life-long learning” to which Carrier refers is tilted toward the secular, cultural left.

Ideas for events, wrote Carrier, come from many sources, including staff and patrons, other libraries and “subjects of current interest in the community.”

Young Adult programs are also discussed with teens in the Teen Advisory Boards meeting at several JMRL branches, including ideas suggested by members of the group. In addition, many programs are conducted in partnership with individuals or organizations with expertise on a particular subject, and a form is available for anyone to request a partnership with the Library in presenting a program.

Libraries, said Carrier, “should actively seek to include a variety of programming options representing diversity of genres, formats, ideas, and expressions with a multitude of viewpoints and cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity in our communities.”

The Library recognizes that not every program or theme will be suited for everyone, and many offerings are made available year-round to reflect the interests of different members of the community.

That sounds anodyne. Here’s my question: How “diverse” are the viewpoints and cultural perspectives that are typically found in libraries these days? How often do libraries serve as venues for people with traditional, conservative perspectives? Would a Charlottesville-Albemarle public library sponsor a program that, say, explored the artistry and aesthetics of Confederate war memorials?

As evidenced by the conferences speakers of the recent American Library Association annual meeting — speakers range span the spectrum from the left wing to the non-political, not a conservative in sight — libraries are increasingly dominated by environmental and social-justice warriors. Do such librarians seek out “diverse” perspectives different from their own — e.g. conservative perspectives — or do they gravitate toward groups, ideas, and causes with which they identify?

If a library were privately owned and funded, I would have no complaint. People should be free to sponsor whatever causes they wish. But public libraries are… public. They are maintained by public tax dollars.

Perhaps I am over-reaching. A cursory review of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library events for teen and adult programs pages reveals no events of a particularly controversial nature in the current line-up. Perhaps drag queen reading hours and make-up sessions are the exception, not the rule.

Alternatively perhaps the libraries serving the People’s Republic of Charlottesville accurately reflect the political and cultural views of most citizens, while libraries in, say, Galax or Goochland, have a very different tenor.

But I think it is an issue worth exploring. The left has conquered the mainstream news media, Hollywood, higher education, the New York book publishing industry, museums and other cultural institutions. Why not community libraries as well? The difference is that the media, Hollywood, and nonprofit museums are not supported by tax dollars. Public libraries are.

I would like to hear from readers. What experiences have you had with your local libraries? Have they brought the culture wars to your community?

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41 responses to “Libraries, Drag Queens and Culture Wars”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    Charlottesville just copying McLean …

    I love this …

    “He declared that when he’s in drag his pronouns are she / her, and when he’s not in drag his pronouns are he / they.”

    So, when she’s in drag she becomes singular (“her”) but out of drag he becomes plural (“they”).

    And this …

    “Outside the library, following the event, some of us women attempted to engage attendees in polite conversation about what they just experienced. There was a mix of reactions. A few were open to discussion, while others called us “racists,” “homophobes” and “evil.” The librarian told us to stop “harassing” people. [What happened to the Left’s mantra, “All Are Welcome Here”?]”

    I haven’t been inside a library in 30 years. My guess is that libraries are increasingly an anachronism. Sounds like they are dreaming up events to justify their existence. Loaned books from a public source over the internet? Makes sense to me. Free standing buildings with parking lots often on very valuable real estate? Hmm… Maybe the buildings and land should be sold and the proceeds refunded to taxpayers.

    1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
      Baconator with extra cheese

      I enjoy the pronoun “Yo” created in Baltimore and given credence by NPR. I think I’m going to use that one at work.
      I also may create my own pronoun as that is also acceptable now. I may go with “Bang/Boom”.

      In all seriousness I have worked with transpeople and could care less if a person switches from he to she. And I will respectfully call them by their chosen name and chosen pronoun. But the made up and plural pronouns are just too far off the reservation for me.

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        The issue of what we should use for a gender-neutral, third-person pronoun has long been an issue even before it was taken up by the trans community. I was never really comfortable using “he” as you often had to explain that you meant “he” generically. I actually find “they” to be more comfortable as I use it more – at first is was a bit awkward though.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      “So, when she’s in drag she becomes singular (“her”) but out of drag he becomes plural (“they”).”

      This article might explain it for you….

    3. Virginia Bacon Martin Avatar
      Virginia Bacon Martin

      Publishers are actively trying to prevent easy loan of books from public sources over the Internet. Some states are legislating to try to stop their unfair policies and digital rights management restrictions, but it will be a long row to hoe. Meanwhile, many community members benefit from free access to books, Internet, and other resources at local public libraries. As a librarian responsible for acquiring materials for a major research library, I can say definitively that there is still a lot of stuff not freely available on the Internet.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    blah blah blah ” the left”…. blah blah blah “the left”.

    geezy peezy

    all things bad = “the left”.

    you guys are in a RUT!

    Is anyone being forced to go this?

    GAWD KNOWS if it they offered ” Everything You wanted to know about CRT but were afraid to ask”…. it would hit the fan then!

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Are such presentations a wise use of public money?

      Would you have any objection if a public library system paid Charles Murray to present his thoughts on ideas he put forth in his book The Bell Curve?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        “wise”. Now that’s an interesting term… sorta like “risk” when it comes to covid. eh?

        But sure, let Murray come and have Unite the Right folks there also – with their flags!

    2. WayneS Avatar

      Well it ain’t the Christian Coalition pushing this bullsh!t.

      And why are you complaining? I should think you’d be proud that your comrades on the left are supporting drag queen storybook hours for kids.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        cuz it’s simply grade A balderdash…

        All the “right” seems capable of doing these days is complain about the left. They seem to be pretty much devoid of real ideas other than to oppose.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          And you seem devoid of real ideas apart from bashing the right…

        2. WayneS Avatar

          And you’re right, it is balderdash – but “progressives” have free speech rights too….

  3. tmtfairfax Avatar

    The main issues are: 1) disclosure to parents who may make attendance decisions for their kids; and 2) viewpoint discrimination by a government agency. The first is just good common sense. Set forth the facts and allow parents to make decisions.

    The second raises major constitutional issues and must not be permitted.

  4. CJBova Avatar

    I have less of a problem with programs for teens who might be curious or have a leaning toward that kind of activity. I strongly oppose drag queen story hours for toddlers and kindergarteners in libraries, but obviously, their parents don’t! But it should never be allowed in schools! Drag Queen Story Hour dot org has chapters in 28 states and Puerto Rico. I guess Virginia is next.

  5. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    Actually I believe this is just what we need. The more these things are thrown in everyone’s face the quicker the backlash will come.
    Now every militant religious group, including the anti-abortion people with the grotesque signs and the female genital mutilation sects; should get their own “teen” day at the library. Maybe Xiden gets his own teen sniffing day too.
    Then we’ll see how quickly those standing up for diversity peel back on true diversity of thought.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    let me guess. We’d also outlaw any books on this subject also because it’s not a “wise” use of public funds and/or we’d only let parents check out such books if they promised not to show to their kids?

    1. WayneS Avatar

      No. It’s “progressives” who like the idea of banning books.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        really? when? where?

        1. WayneS Avatar

          And how long do you think biographies of R.E. Lee and Thomas Jackson are going to remain on school library shelves?

  7. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    So maybe we should hold a ccp class in the library.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Chocolate cream pie? Sounds like fun!!

  8. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Here’s an idea. If you don’t want your child to be exposed to such dangerous images, don’t take them to the library if they have people in drag in attendance.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      A very enlightened philosophy. Are you consistent in that philosophy?

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Generally, I try to be. I would go further and say if it truly offends you and you want to peaceably protest outside, go ahead. I think you are being foolish but it is your right.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        In fact, some libraries do offer public space to hold presentations and meetings. And it seems to be a free-speech sort of thing, i.e. if the Library does offer pubic meeting spaces, could they restrict those spaces based on the “content” of the discussions at a meeting?

        For instance, could Gay and Transgenders hold a meeting, advertise it and offer books and actual “drag” queens to meet and talk to?

        “free speech” ?

        1. WayneS Avatar

          “i.e. if the Library does offer pubic meeting spaces, could they restrict those spaces based on the “content” of the discussions at a meeting?

          For instance, could Gay and Transgenders hold a meeting, advertise it and offer books and actual “drag” queens to meet and talk to?”

          I’m not even sure why you asked me that question, unless you really have completely misunderstood virtually every single idea I have ever expressed on this blog. Obviously any group engaging in legal activities should be able to rent a public space for legal activities.

          I do draw the line at “pubic” space, though, at least in a public library meeting room… (Check your spelling, Larry)


    2. DJRippert Avatar

      I don’t want my tax money spent on this. Or on somebody representing the John Birch Society either. Libraries should exist to lend books.

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Sorry, but we don’t always get to choose exactly what each tax dollar is spent on – trust me sometimes I wish we could. Libraries have long done more than just lend books. I honestly wouldn’t care if the John Birch Society was brought in to do a seminar either. I can always choose not to attend.

      2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        It really is that simple. Exactly what a library is built for. The community center is right down the street.

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Or Uncle Ernie. Their choice.

  9. If you want to see the open advocacy of proselytizing children into the drag queen life style and “gender fluidity”, take a look at

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    Wasn’t that long ago, there were folks who said that public libraries should not carry certain books… remember?

    And geeze… you take your kid to the library and you gotta watch them like a hawk so they don’t find “bad” books!


    Yes. Per Eric. Be responsible for your kid. If you don’t want them to consume things you think are bad – then do your job, don’t insist the rest of the world should do it.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I’ll take responsibility for my kid and my wallet. If you want to hold transsexual story time on private property at your expense … go ahead. My objection is spending tax money on such nonsense.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        How exactly would you stipulate a policy for the Library that stated what things they could present or not? How about what books they could stock or not?

        1. WayneS Avatar

          You are the only one in this discussion who seems obsessed with banning books. No one else has even suggested it.

          Perhaps because it’s not related to the topic of the article.

  11. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    “I Am Jazz.” My granddaughter, visiting from Texas, picked that up in the Henrico library, drawn by the cover I’m sure. When Nana started reading and realized it is about a “gender-assigned” boy (apparently the equipment is assigned, too) who wanted to be (well, in the parlance was) a girl, and a very gender stereotyped girl at that, she made up her own story to go with the pictures…..

    From the Amazon ad:

    “This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty.”

  12. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “No Charlie, don’t say ‘But I’m as good as they.’ Instead try saying, ‘And they are as good as me.’” — Edgar Bergen. Or words to that effect.

  13. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “If men want to dress like women… that’s not my thing, but it’s a free country.”

    This is one of those “But it’s a free country”. followed by 500 words on why it shouldn’t be, articles.

    Milton Berle and Liberace didn’t hurt a generation of men,… or did they?

    Tell us, how do you really feel about Rudy Giuliani, James.

    How about Caitlyn Jenner? Can she have a book-signing at the library, or no?

    It’s really, really hard work, and with great effort the Right can be indoctrinated into saying “and it’s a free country.”

  14. Virginia Bacon Martin Avatar
    Virginia Bacon Martin

    I’m an actual real live librarian and Jim’s daughter, just popping in to say that y’all pretty clearly don’t know much at all about libraries, so it’s really hard to take any of this seriously.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      “…it’s really hard to take any of this seriously.”

      Why should you be the first?

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