'Draq Queen' story time starts conversation on children and inclusion

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The conversation around a volunteer storytelling event put on by local LGBT advocates garnering attention and mixed reactions from people across the Valley.

Today at the Mildred Terry Library, Brian Hopkins, performing as "Monica Starr," led a group of wide-eyed kids and attentive parents, packed inside of the library's meeting rooms, for Columbus' first-ever 'Drag Queen Story Hour.'

"Did you have fun?" Lauren Blair asked her young daughter. Blair then laughed as her child nodded "yes."\

For Blair, and her husband Mac, the chance for their children to read and sing inside the Mildred Terry Library in Columbus also brought an opportunity for other families to meet a unique, volunteer reader.

Starr, Colgay Pride of Columbus and other advocates borrowed the idea that's seen some success in other communities across the country. Starr said he was taken aback by this show of support from friends, and strangers who chose to bring their kids to enjoy a good story.

"We've always raised them to never judge anybody," Lauren Blair said. "To them, it's just somebody reading a story - it's nothing abnormal."

"To see this support is amazing. I love it," Starr said.

Both Lauren and Mac Blair said they support anyone interested in spending time and helping young children.

"That's what matters to us," Mac said," "somebody willing to do something nice for the kids."

Starr said the most surprising part of the event was the children actively participating in telling the story, titled 'A Tale of Two Beasts,' written by Fiona Roberton.

"They were really engaging with me," Starr said, "and I would ask them a question. They think it's this or that, and it was awesome."

Outside the library, however, a small group of protesters raised signs and voiced their concern the children at the event were not learning Christian values.

"You're taking young minds," said Gary Hartman, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Harris County, " who are still formulating beliefs, and they're instilling this 'drag queen mentality.'"

Disagreements aside, Starr and most parents inside the reading room said sharing this experience shows people from all walks of life can come together.

"We are humans. This shows that we are who we are," Starr said. "Doesn't matter if you're gay, you're straight - it shouldn't matter. We are human. Any race, color; diversity is here."

Colgay Pride representatives said after seeing families pack the room inside Mildred Terry Library, they plan to make 'Drag Queen Story Hour' a monthly event in Columbus.

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