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  • Writer's pictureGrow Some Labia

Are Drag Shows Really All That Bad For Kids?

As a former belly dancer who taught a few children myself, I don't think I sexualized anybody. Even though a few parents worried about me.

Young boy with rainbow-coloured hair & paint bottles in the background
Public domain image from Pxhere


“What the hell is going on? How can they allow something like this? How is this appropriate for children?”


Le monsieur raged at strangers at a downtown family festival, watching local performers, and for God’s sakes, what were the festival organizers thinking? How could they allow a belly dancer to perform? On stage? In front of children?


Claire, the local costume-delivery florist responsible for this outrage, was well-familiar with the town’s outspoken uptight, conservative. She watched as Claude-Michel made his way through the crowd, demanding of various onlookers how outrageous was this, right here in downtown Torrington?


“Oh my God!” she said to her husband. “Look! Claude-Michel is heading RIGHT FOR NICOLE’S PARENTS!”


Mom says Claude-Michel spouted off to her and Dad, upon which Mom snapped, “That’s my daughter up there!” with the sort of look she customarily reserved for my brother and I growing up when we’d pulled some Really Serious Shit, Prepare Your Will Now.


Dad, perceiving the accent, answered in French, explaining that yes, that was his daughter, and they were just fine with me.


By the time I was done the stage was ringed with mostly wide-eyed little girls who didn’t gave a rat’s patoot about Claude-Michel. “You know what?” Mom told me later. “For the next month there won’t be a single bedsheet or spare towel safe in this town from aspiring belly dancers!”



We’re subversive!


Children were always my best audience.


Belly dancers are bright, flashy, and ridiculously girly. The art form is a celebration of being a woman. So I understand why children are drawn to over-the-top drag queens.


Hey, drag queens wear more clothes than I did and I didn’t think I was harmful to children. I hoped to teach young girls and women to be proud, develop confidence, celebrate their womanhood and their inherent beauty.


Drag-positive parents say events like Drag Story Hour teach their kids who may be consciously gay, or otherwise trying to figure themselves out, that they’re not alone—and it’s okay to not conform to gender stereotypes.


Anything that dismantles toxic masculinity/toxic femininity is fine with me. My gay friends have spoken about how difficult it was growing up fancying the ‘wrong’ gender, with sex ed classes and discussions oriented around heterosexuality, where one dared not go Oscar Wilde in class.


Diaries of a Middle School Eunuch - Anthony Eichenberger, Medium


But what about ‘kiddie’ drag shows? Is that where we draw the line?


As a former belly dancer and, as far as I know, not a corrupter of children, I think there’s a happy medium. Somewhere.



Out of the cabaret, into the library


I remember a belly dancer at my brother’s elementary school talent show. She was probably eight or nine. I don’t know if her mother danced but I know their daughters often follow in momma’s bare feet.


I had a pre-teen belly dancer in my own class and later a high school girl, both with their parents’ permission.


I was respectful, if disappointed, of parents who hustled their children out of the room when I arrived at a party to embarrass some 40-year-old birthday boy with a ‘bellygram’. Hey, it was their parents’ call.


Is there a problem with drag shows? Are kids being ‘groomed’ for pedophiles?


And what about kid drag performers?


In the right environment, and tailored for children or young people, they can be honest, good clean fun. Just like belly dancers.



When Claire booked my events she made it clear I offered a family-friendly performance. I bristled when asked, “Do you strip?” No. Never. Belly dancers don’t strip, strippers strip. I can’t swear there aren’t strippers dressed as belly dancers, but it wasn’t me or anyone of my friends.


But.


While the far right has been obsessed with pedophilia for decades, many of us on the Level Left and Rational Right have this nagging, persistent feeling there’s more to drag shows, however child-appropriate, than its proponents let on.


We detect the unpleasant whiff, less of pedophilia but of genderfluid recruitment, already in full swing targeting children. Are drag queens an adjunct to the movement’s clear agenda to push gender questioning on young children?


Given the optics surrounding drag queens, homosexuality, and the mostly unfair connection the right has drawn to pedophilia (we’ll get to that shortly), I suggest the drag community could help by reacting less defensively and addressing these real concerns for parents who want to support their emerging-whatever kid, but don’t want her or him to be encouraged to think they should be unhappy in their birth body, that they should be the opposite gender, and that it should start now. Even worse, possibly have the idea planted in their heads that they’ll be suicidal if they don’t ‘fix’ this, since trans-activists won’t stop pushing the long-debunked claim that post-transitioners are less suicidal.


We know that 80% of kids outgrow their gender dysphoria, which is sometimes confused with mental illness. Gender dysphoria, often accompanied by depression, anxiety or agitation itself isn’t a mental illness, but how a person feels. It can be a passing phase, or it can be more persistent, when medical intervention may become necessary.


Many of us critics are quite suspicious of this newly-manufactured body dysmorphia. Kids functioned just fine as little as twenty years ago in their birth bodies before Queer Theory gender obsessives taught them to worry they were born in the wrong body, just in case they didn’t already feel fat, ugly, unmanly or weird-looking enough.


If 80% of gender-dysphoric kids outgrow it, then instead of immediate medical intervention, an alternative is allowing them to present, dress, act, dance, and live as they want, going through all the phases of discovering themselves we all must go through as their pubertal bodies undergo absolutely natural, universally-shared changes.


I wonder how many parents would welcome drag shows and drag queens if they were assured their kids wouldn’t get encouraged towards medical treatments their parents don’t think they need, because they’re okay with having a gay kid, as long as s/he’s happy. Maybe they’re more amenable to supporting a trans child once they’re old enough and haven’t outgrown it. Is going through puberty really all that terrible for the genuine trans? Every transsexual since Christine Jorgenson did it, until about 10-12 years ago. Many later-breaking transfolk had kids before they transitioned, which today’s trans kids may not be able to do, long before they’re old enough to know whether they want children or not.


I think especially of young girls and women who think they don’t want children, until the biological clock starts ticking at 28-30 and they change their minds. There are no backsies if today’s treatments ruin fertility at puberty.

Jazz Jennings will never have a baby of her own. I don’t know if she preserved sperm before her vaginoplasty, but the ideal age for it is 40. She was in her teens.


Team Trans doesn’t listen, and emotionally blackmails parents with suicide threats if they don’t agree to immediate ‘gender affirming’ treatments of uncertain science and potential long-term harm.


See why we find drag shows all a tad suspish?


An agenda that may go beyond ‘we’re just helping queer kids’ is the first reason why many of us suspect the new-ish kiddie drag show fad may be more than just fun and acceptance games. And no, we’re not all on the far right. Or even the Rational Right.



Sharkpædo


Gay men have long been painted by the homophobic right as pedophiles, ignoring mountains of homo- and heterosexual pervos who prey upon young children, including within the right’s own ranks.


It’s universally understood that a lot of gay men, although not all, love camping it up in women’s clothing. So do plenty of straight men, for whom it’s a sexual fetish. The connection between gay men, sexual fetishism. and drag culture is indisputable.


The LGBTQ movement embraced, as part of its rainbow sexual outliers, kink and BDSM sexual fetishists. Who cares? as any logical liberal would ask. Consenting adults!


The far right, who sees pedophilia everywhere like the far left finds racism under every rock (Earthworms are racist!), think drag queens are out to molest peoples’ kids because, and they offer you proof, what about those drag queen perverts in Pennsylvania and Texas that got busted with kiddie porn???


Touché. But not the takedown they think it is.


Two busts do not a movement reputation make, and every single person likely knows a few closet kiddie porn aficionados, probably none of them drag queens. With the proliferation of porn today and the popularity of kiddie porn, countless families never expect they’ll hear what British women have come to call The Knock: When the police come to your door and tell you your husband’s just been arrested for an online crime they won’t yet strictly define.


I’ve known at least one: An old IT customer of mine who bought a scanner from me. I remember him because of his unusual name and because scanners at the time were thousands of dollars.


Later I read he got busted for possession of kiddie porn. Oh God, that scanner!


I remember him as a nice guy.


The closet kiddie porn aficionado might not be your friendly neighborhood drag queen, but someone much closer to your kids. Or it might be one of your kids.


But point taken. Fact is, pedophiles are universal. What they have in common is they’re mostly male. And a desire to be where the children are.


Drag show promoters need to be wary of this as do the adult leaders of any gathering of children you can think of: Boy/Girl Scouts, religious leaders, play date organizers, child beauty pageant patrons, schools.


Drag event organizers who got blindsided by a performer’s kiddie porn arrest can’t be accused of negligence if they had no prior records.


So pedophiles are a legitimate concern, and drag queen organizers need to be extra-careful about this since drag also has a long and established history as highly sexualized performance (for adults).


It’s also fair to point out the LGBTQ movement effed up a bit back in the ‘90s.

A prominent gay rights organization made a regrettably bad decision which gave the movement a somewhat complicated and uncomfortable connection with pedophiles.


The International Lesbian Gay Association’s reputation exploded in 1994 when it was granted consultative status on the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Senator Jesse Helms ‘busted’ the ILGA when he discovered they’d allowed NAMBLA to become a member in the ‘80s, somewhat grudgingly, in service to inclusivity.


The ILGA quickly divested itself of NAMBLA after that, but the optics were ‘problematic’.


Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again. Inclusivity needs boundaries.


Like much of the left, the Alphabet Soup Gang is not always very good at drawing sexual boundaries. It hasn’t, for example, effectively dealt with the sexual predator problem the trans movement has introduced with well-documented incidents involving ‘trans’ sex offenders committing sexual assault or other sex crimes in formerly ladies’-only spaces, or declaring themselves ‘trans’ and getting themselves transferred to women’s prisons where they can, and sometimes do, re-offend.


Like Rikers Island’s Ramel Blount, a transwoman accused of raping a female prisoner. This report only seems to be in the far-right media. And, oh, lookee here, also from the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. I wonder why there’s no mention of it in the popular left-wing media? I Googled ‘Ramel Blount’ with MSNBC, CNN, ABC News and CBS News and found nada.

You see why the right and critics on the Level Left don’t trust the LGBTQ set to always tell the truth. Or know when to say No.


More recently, there’s the recent British trans children charity Mermaids scandal, in which a board member was forced to resign when he was revealed not as a pedo, but a bit too pedo-friendly.


I suspect Mermaids may have not done their proper due diligence, or had never heard of ‘Google’.


So yeah, folks, be extra-cautious about pedophiles.


Because when we see drag queens and kids together, we wonder—however innocent and authenticity-supporting it may be—whether there are an unknown number of ‘bad actors’ taking advantage of an Ado Annie movement that just cain’t say no.



What might be positive about kiddie drag shows? And kid drag performers?


My inner aging belly dancer, currently sitting around naked in an imaginary old folks home since I sold all her clothes on Craig’s List a few years ago, is screaming, “But what do YOU have in common with drag queens?”


You mean besides glitz, glitter, great music, and making 40-year-old men blush?


“Yes! And fetch me a bathrobe, dammit! It’s only May and this is CANADA!”

I watched videos of child drag performers, and then child belly dancers, and didn’t feel like either were evil. The belly dancers were quite good, and while they were light-years from what pole dancers do, I can understand why parents might not want their own child to do that, and disapprove of parents who do.


It’s their call. We need to be respectful of that.


What’s different today is the Internet, and social media. Decades ago, a kiddie performance stayed on stage, it wasn’t shared all over Da Internetz.


I watched Desmond the Amazing, the drag tween queen social media sensation, who’s already attracted the attention of one pedophile. I was critical of the ‘responsible’ adults around him a little while back. Desmond strikes me as a decent kid. I suspect he’s probably gay. I’m happy he can dance and prance around in female garb with his parents’ approval, which many wouldn’t offer, and might actively discourage. Parental permission removes the shame of ‘borrowing’ their sister’s clothing, not to mention the constant anxiety of worrying about getting caught and punished. Perhaps severely, if Daddy is homo/transphobic.


I’m not sure it’s a good idea to make Desmond a child star, even though he may be in better hands than Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, and Hollywood child stars were. Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation tells horrifying stories of his abusive childhood with a father who was clearly jealous of his son’s fame.


Any child star, drag or not, will attract sexual predators. Very, very few make it out of fame with their mental health intact, although Shirley Temple appears to have been one outlier who did.


And while I’m sure all attracted their share of sickos, even global reach didn’t mean as much before the Internet, when only people who could afford movies, or lived in countries where they weren’t censored or prohibited, were exposed to them.


I like the idea of keeping it to the ‘hood, or local community theatre, rather than on social media. That goes for young belly dancers, too. I love the girls in the video above but if I had a belly dancing daughter I don’t know that I’d want her on YouTube.


As for Drag Queen Story Hours, they might improve their image if they left alone stories with gender/queer themes. It looks more like normalizing transvestism and promoting Queer Theory/genderfluid ideology rather than teaching children the joys of reading which can be accomplished with other books, ya know. Why not Cinderella—With Dogs! or The Day The Crayons Quit?


There’s a happy medium for drag shows for kids (except for the far right, who are agin’ anything da libtards aren’t) and that’s to at least trust children to figure out what they are and how they feel on their own, and give them the space to explore it.


The far right needs to stop terrorizing drag queens and children with guns and threats. If it’s their call to keep their own children from such events, it’s other’s call to allow them.


Had my two young students not gotten their parents’ permission, that would have ended it.


Belly dancing was fun and glitz and feminine support, and so can be drag queen events, if they ease up on the recruitment and fetishism optics. The Level Left and the Rational Right hve reason to be suspicious. So does the far right even though they’re just as guilty of trying to colonize children’s brains and might arguably be exposing their own children to dangerous weapons and violent ideology while transactivists target them with gender questioning.


My own views are still evolving on this. What do you think? Am I wrong? Am I right? I’m open to respectful alternative opinions.



Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a post!


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