Drag Queen Story Hours have been met with widespread opposition from conservatives in the United States, with mayors in Sparks, Nevada and Lafayette, Louisiana calling to shut down events in their towns. The shows, in which drag queens read to children, have been performed in dozens of cities in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Canada.
But in LGBTQ+ friendly Sweden, the government recently announced it will be giving drag artists money to create and perform events intended to promote youth literacy.
Last week the MUMS Cultural Association in Stockholm was awarded 1,710,500 Swedish kronor — or $177,000 in U.S. dollars — to develop “creative fairy tales” performed in front of a young audience through its Among Dragons and Drag Queens project.
“In addition to authoring new stories, the project will develop an accessible story hour model based on the needs and wishes of the target group in order for the experience to be as good and accessible as possible,” claims the Swedish Inheritance Fund, which provided the grant, in a press release. “[...] The project will present its fairy tales at libraries, but also in other contexts.”
The project will include workshops intended to teach children how to perform and organize their own reading events.
Other recipients of grants from the Swedish Inheritance Fund — which was set up in 1928 to donate money to nonprofits from deceased citizens with no direct inheritors — include climate action groups, employment programs for young people entering the workforce, and an organization that engages in storytelling through dance.
While the drag events are unlikely to be met with much backlash in a country regularly cited as one of the most progressive in the world, right-wing sites in the U.S. are already furious. Big League Politics predicted the events would be “exposing children to transgenderism,” while Breitbart evoked the widely debunked trans predator myth to claim there’s the “potential for sex offenders to take part in the activities.”
There’s no evidence that drag events are turning children transgender or causing them to be sexually abused.
Earlier this year, Among Dragons and Drag Queens held an event in which performers read to young migrant children who had recently arrived in Sweden. According to a statement, organizers claimed the event was “a little extra magical since most of the children could not speak Swedish.”
“With the help of colors, glitter, costume transformations, and repetition of the words, all the children could follow the stories,” the group said.