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Despite the squawking, the St. Paul Library’s Drag Story Hour must go on

When the program was announced, critics raised issues of "unhealthy lifestyles" and pedophilia.

When the program was announced, critics raised issues of "unhealthy lifestyles" and pedophilia. Paolo Quadrini

Fiona Fierce, a diva on the Twin Cities drag scene, is getting ready for storytime.

She’s one of several who will perform in the St. Paul Public Library’s Drag Story Hour, which takes place at three libraries over the course of the summer.

The premise is simple: Fierce will put on a costume, read a book to kids and their families, then treat the audience to a musical number based on the theme of the book. She’s thinking Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, followed by a showstopping rendition of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.

“I want to show the kids that it’s okay to be who you are, and it’s okay to feel comfortable,” she says. It’s supposed to be flashy, goofy, positive fun for all ages.

This isn’t the first Drag Story Hour to ever grace the Twin Cities, but it’s the first one to take place in St. Paul libraries. Director Catherine Penkert says an event was put on at Lakes and Legends last year, and it was so popular they decided to bring it back.

But it’s not exactly popular with everyone. No sooner did the library post the event on social media than outraged posts started popping up.

“I’ve actually been really surprised by it,” performer Damien D’Luxe says. He does kid-friendly shows all the time at Lush -- Disney songs and cartoony performances. Still, people were lined up in comment sections to say that kids are too young to see someone in drag.

He responded to one of the comments with a photo of an outfit for Drag Story Hour: the White Rabbit from Alice and Wonderland. Just a rabbit costume -- nothing sexual about it.

“How is this offensive?” he asked.

But the critics only doubled down. “They did not want to hear any of it,” he says.

When D’Luxe was growing up, his parents weren’t accepting of him and his brother, who are both gay. They sent them to therapy for a cure. When he started doing drag in secret at 17, it helped him to finally feel comfortable in his own skin.

Performer Sasha Cassadine says the queer and trans community came out in spades when they saw the hateful stuff online, flooding the posts with positive messages. They were excited to see the performances and proud of the St. Paul Library for hosting. Still, it “hurts [his] soul” to see people who don’t know him calling him a “pedo.”

“We’re just artists, honey,” he says. “We just express ourselves a little differently.”

And it’s not like parents are being forced to attend with their children. They can always stay home and let everyone else have the fun.