America is the land of freedom. That’s what makes us great.
You can do, see or learn practically anything here — including how to become a drag queen from a former Miss Gay Ohio America. If that’s your thing, go to town, though I personally wouldn’t pay money for it.
And therein lies the problem: If you’re a taxpayer, particularly one in Delaware County, Ohio, you are paying money for it, whether you like it or not.
“Curious about the art of drag and no idea where to start?” the listing for the “Drag 101” program on Delaware County District Library’s website reads.
“Come learn the basics with former Miss Gay Ohio America and local queen, Selena T. West! We will learn about the application of makeup and creating characters, as well as the history of drag. All genders welcome! Teens only, please.”
Move over, Drag Queen Story Hour.
As WCMH noted, West is a “relative of drag royalty Nina West.”
Selena West, who says his “boy name is Kyle Gayle,” aims to teach “the building blocks of how to do drag” during the June 5 class.
“This is probably the most controversial program I’ve ever worked with in 40 years,” George Needham, director of the Delaware County District Library, told WCMH.
Now, read this quote about his reaction to the controversy and see if you notice an issue with Needham’s motives: “You know, if it helps to add to the education of the community, if it helps to add some civil discourse, I’ll take a news crew every week.”
I’m certain he would.
Melissa Ackison, a challenger for an Ohio state Senate seat in 2020, is one of the highest-profile critics of the program.
“My first concern was: Are there background checks for this program? How are they vetting candidates who come in for something like this?” she said.
She also questioned whether or not it was a good use of tax dollars.
The latter point is the critical issue here.
I’m not particularly concerned about whether or not the Delaware County District Library is properly vetting its drag queens as much as the fact that they’re vetting them in the first place.
I suppose one could take aim at any superfluous library program, really. (Two days before “Drag 101,” the library is hosting a game of “rat basketball” to demonstrate “operant conditioning,” something that even B.F. Skinner might agree is a silly waste of both time and money.)
However, the reason “Drag 101” is so problematic isn’t just the material being presented, but the cynicism behind it.
In terms of fostering community engagement, “Drag 101” seems to do it via provocation.
It’s a subject the library knows will be touchy. The people who booked it knew there would be a news van out front, and Needham even admitted he’ll “take a news crew every week.”
But to generate that publicity, the Delaware County District Library has to engage in a subject which clearly intends to grate on a large portion of the taxpayers it relies on — including parents who may not want their tax dollars used to teach their kids “the building blocks of how to do drag.”
The public library is supposed to be a neutral space, a nonsectarian place of learning. At least, it’s supposed to be when it exists on the taxpayers’ dime.
This “class” achieves neither goal. But it sure gets the news crews out there, doesn’t it?
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