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Houston: Drag Queen Story Hour featured at public library

September 26, 2018

HOUSTON (AP) — Tatiana Mala-Niña says good entertainers know their audience.

The Houston Chronicle reports so when the 31-year-old drag queen reads to children at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library, she brings all the shiny glitz and glamour to satisfy their curiosity.

“I’m a fantasy character for these kids, and I love it,” she said.

But, in reality, the Drag Queen Story Hour that Mala-Niña performs with is a lightning rod. The program, which is growing nationally, aims to provide children positive and unabashedly queer role models. Critics, especially in Southern cities, are turning out to protest the events.

Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh said at a council meeting in mid-July, “I just don’t want that projected into our children if it’s not necessary.” Protesters attended an August event at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library with signs that said “This library perverts children” and “Drags need prayers, not public platforms.”

Mala-Niña, 31, said she is surprised by the backlash. When she started performing, Mala-Niña, a transgender woman, was in the beginning of her transition. There were no protesters, and the kids were excited to see her as a larger-than-life character.

“It helps me get in touch with my inner child and just have fun with what I do,” she said. “We’re big ol’ Barbie dolls.”

Protesters are again expected at the local chapter’s first-anniversary event Saturday at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library, part of the Houston Public Library system.

The one-year anniversary will feature five drag queens, a musical number, a photo booth and other activities for families, organizers said.

Mala-Niña plans to wear a large yellow gown and channel Glinda the Good Witch to perform “Popular” from the musical “Wicked.”

She’s not sure how she will ignore protesters, if they attend.

“I really hope the people that hate what we do and hate that we’re trying to do something nice for our community don’t win,” she said. “We’re not getting paid for it. We’re waking up early, slapping on a whole lot of makeup and performing for kids.”

The protests have sparked support for story time in some communities, said Trent Lira, organizer of the event. LGBTQ groups such as PFLAG have offered help, and Lira is working with the Houston Public Library system to start events at other libraries in the greater Houston next year.

“We’re slowly making a difference,” he said.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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