Weston Library hosts Drag Queen Story Hour to much enjoyment

From left, Jessica Clapp, Wilder library director, with Drag Queen Story Hour presenters Katniss Everqueer and Emoji Nightmare. Click any image to launch the slideshow. All photos by Cynthia Prairie

By Cynthia Prairie
©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston’s Wilder Memorial Library had no qualms about holding a Drag Queen Story Hour on Saturday, attracting around 50 kids and adults, including several Wilder board members.

The drag queens — Katniss Everqueer and Emoji Nightmare — arrived around 1:30, batting wickedly long eyelashes, their makeup contoured with precision and dressed for fun, if not for the wilting heat.

Katniss Everqueer and Emoji Nightmare greet the audience with song and sign language.

The event, held behind the tiny jewel box of a library, was arranged in three days but likely attracted more attention than time would allow because of the controversy at Chester’s Whiting Library.

Chester’s library director Deirdre Doran resigned — effective June 30 — after feeling pressure from Robert Nied, president of the board of trustees, to quash the same program set for June 4.

In a letter to the board, Doran wrote that there “is no precedent for library employees to seek prior approval for programs at the library. The trustees hire the library director and charge the library staff with putting on programs.”

Asked how her board has responded to the Drag Queen Story Hour, Weston library director Jessica Clapp said it “is incredibly supportive here.”  She added that she “did not consult the board before” scheduling it. “As library directory it is my responsibility to plan programs that meet the needs and interests of the community,” she said.

Marisa Chang and daughter Lily listen closely to the performers.

Some of the Chester controversy surrounded the website of one performer that Nied found objectionable and unsuitable for young children. Clapp said that she saw the website, but agreed that the story hour program is geared toward pre-school children who shouldn’t have access to the internet without supervision.

“Older children do not like to go to story hour,” she said, adding, “although an awful lot of adults enjoy this one.” She also emphasized, “I feel like if the American Library Association and the Vermont Department of Libraries support this, I feel very comfortable and confident in” the performers.

Emoji Nightmare, aka Justin Marsh, who has been doing story hours since 2017, said the situation in Chester is “the first time the library trustees have gotten involved at this level.”

Amber Miller of Londonderry with son Elias.

Among those enjoying the program were Gassetts residents Tim Garvey and Marisa Chang and their two children, 2-year-old Lily and 5-month-old Leo. Chang, a New Jersey native of Peruvian decent, said she would have “gone to the Chester show if it had been held.” As for the Chester controversy, Garvey said he is “curious to see how it shakes out.”

Following the show, Chang said, “I hope we can embrace open-mindedness. I would like more cultural awareness. The more exposure the better.”

The Rev. Jon Bliss, a resident of Andover, agreed with the sentiment, saying, “more diversity, less censorship!”

Families gather behind the Wilder Memorial Library to enjoy Drag Queen Story Hour.

Later in the day, Amber Miller  posted on Facebook: “My children and I did not walk away from DQSH with anything but more awareness of the importance of inclusion. It absolutely made no difference that the Queens use their stage names and truly why should they not?

“My young boys did not run home and google their names. They came home with more love in their heart, more awareness, and a better feeling of being accepted for just who they are. Anyone who has a problem separating sexuality from a lesson in inclusion should perhaps look a bit deeper into themselves.”

Emoji Nightmare called the Weston audience a “lovely crowd … typical of what we see every time.” Whenever there is controversy, Nightmare adds, a larger crowd of supporters turns out.

The Chester library’s Saturday, June 4 Drag Queen Story Hour has been replaced by a Make Believe Story Hour from 11 a.m. to noon in which children are invited to dress up as their favorite characters and attending a book reading by children’s Librarian Carrie King. The library is located at 117 Main St.

Then at 2 that afternoon, the Drag Queen Story Hour — with Emoji Nightmare and Katniss Everqueer — will be held at the Pizza Stone on Pleasant Street. This will be a family friendly event and admission is free.  It will also used as a fund-raiser for school-based LGBTQ+  organizations at  Green Mountain and Springfield high schools.


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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Sue Pollard says:

    While the safety of children is paramount, what is the harm of men dressing up as women reading to children? If we all live with the ‘what if’s’ in the world, we would all be locked in our homes, afraid of everyone and everything around them. I feel that if people can truly be themselves and comfortable with themselves, I don’t care if they dress up as a person of the opposite sex, a giraffe, or a fish! The drag queens are not doing this for the first time, and if they were anything other than professional when doing the story hour, I doubt they would still be performing. I would think that people who are opposed to this event would just not go to this one. What is so hard about this?

  2. ‘To much enjoyment’ — but not to too much enjoyment 😉 Thanks for the article and coverage.

  3. Susan Brace says:

    Kudos to Carrie King for carrying on through this difficult censorship situation, for the librarians everywhere who stand up for inclusion, diversity and free expression. And thanks to Darlene and the Pizza Stone for hosting the Drag Queen Story Hour and fundraiser, but this should be taking place at the public library of Chester.

    Shame on the Whiting Library Board of Trustees.