The library is open, and Mrs. Kasha Davis is ready to read.
Davis, a drag queen best known for her stint on RuPaul’s Drag Race, will be hosting D.C.’s first Drag Story Hour at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center on Sunday, Nov. 26. There, she’ll read aloud the children’s book Derek the Dinosaur, by Mary Blackwood, a book about a little green dinosaur with a fondness for knitting who is an embarrassment to his rough-and-tumble brothers until he uses his talents to help them out.
The reading will be followed by a craft activity and a short dance party for children.
GLOE is co-sponsoring the event along with Rainbow Families, the leading local organization for LGBTQ-headed families, and the foster care organization Comfort Cases.
Josef Palermo, the director of GLOE: The Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach & Engagement at the Edlavitch DCJCC, says Davis — whose alter ego, Ed Popil, is an LGBTQ parent — has been holding similar story hours for children in the cities where she performs. When organizers learned that Davis would be performing at Town Danceboutique on Nov. 25, they extended an invitation and asked her to hold a reading for the following day.
“The books that Mrs. Kasha Davis likes to read to the kids are ones that have lessons that relate to tolerance and acceptance and respect for others,” says Palermo. “For us at the JCC, it’s important to do as much to [promote] our values of inclusion as possible. We have an entire program, GLOE Youth and Families, and programming that’s specifically for kids and families. So for us, this is a way to continue the work we’ve been doing, to invite families with children into our center, and to impart lessons that are good values for kids to be raised with.
“For LGBTQ kids specifically, the idea that they can come to a story hour and see a drag queen, I think, is a huge opportunity for exposure,” he adds. “So if a kid wants to go home and try on some high heels of his or her own, let them feel empowered by seeing someone like Mrs. Kasha Davis.”
Palermo adds that while some may raise their eyebrows at the thought of a drag queen reading to young children, the event is in keeping with a longstanding tradition of storytelling in Judaism.
“We have been using stories to impart communal values for millennia,” he says. “So this is just another way that we can support that tradition, in a way that also embraces the LGBT community. It’s a no-brainer for us to host something like this.”
Drag Story Hour with Mrs. Kasha Davis is on Sunday, Nov. 26 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. RSVPs are required. For more information, visit washingtondcjcc.org and click on “GLOE Youth & Family.”
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