Photo courtesy Drag Queen Story Hour – El Paso
A request from an El Paso 5 year old for a special guest at her own birthday party became an internet sensation.
When Covid-19 shut down everything in March 2020, Drag Queen Story Hour-El Paso had to pivot hard. Story Hours moved online for the first time, and children and their families continued to enjoy monthly readings with their favorite story readers.
In addition, the chapter – which is a project of the Borderland Rainbow Center – created a rate sheet for other virtual and socially distanced events that families could book individually, including birthday parties.
So, on Saturday afternoon, January 30, Drag Queen Story Hour – El Paso Chapter Coordinator Dede Camacho set up a birthday party for the Nava family on their front lawn.
That evening, the child’s mother posted a short clip of the festivities on her TikTok account and went to sleep. When she woke up the next morning, she was in for a surprise.
The video had already racked up 1.1 million views and had attracted the attention of RuPaul Drag Race contestants, who liked, commented on and shared the video.
“We support our child in the choices she makes. We have always taught her that she has a say over herself and her environment. So when she asked us for a drag queen from story time, we did our best to fulfill the wish,” Alejandrina Nava, mother of Scarlett says. “The video going viral has been crazy. We couldn’t believe it. In no way did we post this thinking it would go viral…but wow!”
Nava also shares that, while there has been some negative feedback, they choose to focus on the good and positive that the party and the response has brought.
“Although the viral video has brought some negative feedback that has hurt our feelings we have chosen to focus on how it has made us feel very happy that so many people loved what we did. The amount of support we have received from so many has filled our hearts with so much joy. We have gained hope that this world is changing for the best little by little. I’m glad we are getting a conversation started and that our wish to see our child happy has helped and made others happy as well.”
The request and the response opened the eyes of Camacho as well.
“I been doing drag for a decade. I have never been asked to do a birthday for a 5 year old. By doing so, I realized the impact my art has to others. Love and acceptance,” Camacho shares. “Seeing the video go viral is everything. To watch this back and [see my presence] bringing joy to Scarlett is why I do what I do.”
The impact of the special story hour was not lost on Westermann, either.
“Drag Queen Story Hour celebrates reading through the glamorous art form of drag and gives children a chance to express their true, authentic selves. Children live lives full of drama and imagination, and reading opens windows into understanding themselves and the lives of others,” Westermann adds.
“When children learn empathy from an early age, it strengthens their identity as well as their relationships with others. That’s the future we are creating with this program.”
As mentioned on their website , Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) was created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions, under the leadership of Juli Delgado Lopera and Virgie Tovar, in San Francisco in 2015.
It started out as drag queens reading stories to children in libraries and grew into a global phenomenon, as DQSH now offers literary and creative programming for kids and teens of all ages led by drag queens, kings, and creatures all over the world.
DQSH is a global network of local organizations, each of which is independently managed and funded.
Drag Queen Story Hour – El Paso is a local affiliate of the international Drag Queen Story Hour movement, and the local chapter was founded in February of 2018.