Attorney General James Hosts Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon in New York City
Nearly 200 Guests Enjoyed a Day of Family Fun in Solidarity with Drag Performers and the LGBTQ+ Community
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General James, together with a broad coalition of advocacy organizations and elected leaders, today stood proudly in unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community and hosted a first-of-its-kind Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon for families in New York City. Nearly 200 guests enjoyed four back-to-back Story Hours hosted by the Drag Kings, Queens, and Royalty of Drag Story Hour NYC at The Center, which has been a home and resource hub for the LGBTQ+ community and allies since its founding in 1983. Attorney General James was joined by local elected officials, including Assemblymembers Tony Simone and Grace Lee, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Council Members Erik Bottcher, Shekar Krishnan, and Crystal Hudson.
“The recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ protests, rhetoric, and policies has left New Yorkers — myself included — devastated and disappointed. But I know better than anyone that when the choice is between love and hate, between joy and venom, New Yorkers will always choose love, and New Yorkers will always choose joy,” said Attorney General James. “I am proud to have been joined by my colleagues in advocacy and government today in celebration of the love, joy, and family fun that Drag Story Hour brings to our communities. Hate has no home in New York, and I will always fight to ensure our LGBTQ+ siblings’ rights are upheld and defended.”
Attorney General James hosted today’s Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon to condemn hate and combat rampant disinformation. Recent months have seen a rise in homophobic protests and fearmongering surrounding Drag Story Hour, and disgraceful harassment and vitriol directed at the LGBTQ+ community, advocates, and leaders such as New York City Council Members Erik Bottcher and Shekar Krishnan. With this event, Attorney General James and her colleagues and co-sponsors are ensuring New Yorkers know that everyone — regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or socioeconomic status — is celebrated, protected, and welcomed in New York.
This event was made possible and proudly co-sponsored by Drag Story Hour, The Center, the Pride Center of Staten Island, Destination Tomorrow, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Public Library, State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, State Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Daniel O'Donnell, and Tony Simone, and New York City Council Members Erik Bottcher, Tiffany Cabán, Crystal Hudson, Shekar Krishnan, Chi Ossé, and Lynn Schulman.
“Drag storytellers, and the organizations that support them, are advancing a love of diversity, personal expression, and literacy that are core to what our city embraces,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Stories don’t just teach children to love reading, but help them understand people who are different. And at a time when our LGBTQ+ communities are under increased attack across this country, we must use stories to educate. The goal is not only for our children to be academically smart, but also emotionally intelligent. I thank Attorney General James for hosting this event that clearly says New York City is the place where you can be yourself and love who you want.”
“Conservative leaders from across the country, and unfortunately here in our city, are deploying bigotry and hatred against the LGBTQ+ community, marginalizing and demonizing drag performers particularly,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Drag story hours have been a fun, engaging way to get kids excited about reading and learning, and in the face of relentless, unfounded, attacks they have also become a means of standing up to a hateful agenda of false outrage and those who are trying to advance it. I thank the Attorney General for hosting this event and showing that in New York, we reject these attacks and embrace the love, acceptance, inclusivity, celebration, expression, and education at the core of these drag programs and the broader community.”
“Drag Story Hour offers important programming that promotes inclusivity, literacy, and joy for our youth,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “New York City’s diversity is our strength. Together with Attorney General James, the Council is proud to support community-based programs that instill an interest in reading and storytelling with the values of acceptance and understanding.”
“My two young daughters have been going to Drag Queen Story Hour for years with their two dads. They like it for the simple reason that it’s fun and interesting — there’s nothing more complicated than that,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. “Those who are attempting to use Drag Queen Story Hour to stir up controversy and vitriol directed at the LGBTQ community and specifically drag artists should be ashamed of themselves. I appreciate Attorney General James for sponsoring this story hour at the LGBTQ Center and giving parents and kids the opportunity to be exposed to books.”
“The LGBTQ+ community is facing unprecedented attacks across the country by anger and hate-fueled bigots,” said Assemblymember Tony Simone. “This Drag Story Hour is just one example of New York City's commitment to always being a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as teaching our children the importance of inclusivity and artistic expression. Our kids deserve to get to experience the pure fun of a drag story hour, and I'm proud to be hosting this event with the Attorney General and my colleagues.”
“With so many public officials and private citizens across the nation targeting the drag, queer, and trans communities with hateful policies and violence, it's powerful for AG James to loudly and proudly organize this Drag Story Hour,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Drag Story Hour brings communities together and shows families how to live expansively and embrace diversity. The messages of radical love and acceptance that characterize Drag Story Hour will shape a better city for our youngest New Yorkers.”
“Providing our children a well-rounded education is so much more than just teaching them math and science. To properly educate our children is to teach them to embrace the deeply human values of empathy, acceptance and respect — both for others and for themselves. That is at the very heart of Drag Story Hour NYC, whose storytellers are as exciting and engaging as they are invaluable to the literary education and personal growth of our children,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “There is so much more work ahead of us when it comes to fostering an inclusive education, like greatly expanding the teaching of LGBTQIA+ history in the classroom, and I am proud to wholeheartedly support Drag Story Hour NYC as we advance that mission.”
“Drag Story Hour is an incredible program that promotes reading, inclusivity, and freedom of expression,” said New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher. “I am proud to support this program and, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that we are not going to be intimidated, we are not going to be cowed, and we are not going to be forced back into the closet. I want to thank New York State Attorney General Letitia James for her support of Drag Story Hour, and for always being a staunch ally to the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Drag Story Hour teaches children our most important values — love, empathy, and inclusivity — while also promoting literacy,” said New York City Council Member Shekar Krishnan. “I'm so proud to attend today's readings hosted by Attorney General Letitia James, and to stand up for this organization and all LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers. Thank you, Attorney General James, for always defending us against hate and for celebrating love.”
“Drag Story Hour not only a great educational program, it is an important piece of public safety infrastructure,” said New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “It is exactly this kind of program that gets at the root causes of hate, and prevents violence down the road. As a queer New Yorker, and co-chair of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus, let me add that Drag Queen Story Hour NYC is a wonderful, wholesome, vital program. Inviting colorfully, playfully-dressed performers to read our children stories is an invitation to our children to dress up, to explore, to see themselves as unique individuals with the right to be however they want in the world. It shows queer youth and their peers alike that each of them is valid — that they all belong.”
“Drag Story Hour has my full support. New York City’s strength is rooted in our diversity, and DSH both celebrates that diversity and builds support for it,” said New York City Council Member Chi Ossé. “In a moment of rising anti-LGBTQ bigotry across the country, steadfast support for and celebration of the LGBTQ community is not optional.”
“Drag Queen Story Hour is about promoting reading, tolerance, and diversity,” said New York City Council Member Lynn Schulman. “With so much hate in the world, it is important to have programs like this that teach acceptance in a fun and engaging environment.”
“I believe it’s our responsibility to create environments for queer families to experience healing, joy, and celebration. For the past 40 years, The Center has been a place that does that. It has also been a hub of activism in the face of attacks against our community,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. “Welcoming Drag Story Hour to The Center provided a fun day for LGBTQ+ families and served as a reminder to those who seek to erase LGBTQ+ people that we’re here and will continue to live our truth.”
“Drag Story Hour is one of our most popular programs and a fun and positive experience for families. Children love hearing stories and singing songs with the performers who dress in bright colors and sparkles,” said The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library. “Our librarians work closely with DSH to select age-appropriate books in English and other languages. We are proud to offer story times for babies and older children that reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and introduce a new generation to the joy of reading.”
“We are excited to share this occasion with Attorney General James and appreciate her unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community. Drag story hours promote diversity and inclusion, and are intended to spark children's interest in reading,” said Sean Ebony Coleman, Founder and Executive Director, Destination Tomorrow. “We have to stand up to those who have politicized something joyful and educational. The weaponization of drag story hour is a tool to vilify the community and further promote violence against and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals. We will continue to celebrate all identities and refuse to let our joy be taken away.”
“The Pride Center of Staten Island applauds Attorney General Letitia James for hosting a Drag Story Hour event,” said The Pride Center of Staten Island. “In our current sociopolitical climate, where transgender people and drag performers in other parts of the country are being re-pathologized, othered, and silenced by anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, this event is an important celebration of difference and gender diversity.”
“Today, we witness the joy and happiness that Drag Story Hour brings children nationwide and the community-led effort it takes to make it happen,” says Beverly Tillery, Executive Director, New York City Anti-Violence Project. “But I would be remiss if we didn’t note the unfortunate reality of the hatred that makes such an innocent event newsworthy and the real danger our Drag performers and our community face daily due to hateful threats.”
Established in 1983 as a result of the AIDS crisis, New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has grown and evolved over the last four decades, creating and delivering services that empower people to lead healthy, successful lives. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center currently operates in-person and virtually, providing recovery and wellness programs, economic advancement initiatives, family and youth support, advocacy, arts, and cultural events, and space for community organizing and connection. For more information, please visit gaycenter.org.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) protects the civil rights of all New Yorkers and promotes equal justice under the law. If an individual witnesses or experiences an act of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination or any unlawful discrimination, they are encouraged to contact OAG’s Civil Rights Bureau by submitting a confidential complaint online, emailing email@example.com, or calling 212 416 8250.