A program coming to the Lafayette Public Library is the topic of conversation across Acadiana.
The Lafayette Public Library is joining a long list of American public libraries hosting Drag Queen Story Time.
New York, Boston, Orlando, Houston – the public libraries in those and many other cities have regular events featuring drag queens reading stories to young children.
Lafayette’s first venture into the event will be October 6, from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. The books they’ll be reading are geared toward people ages three to six and their families.
The queens will be supplied by UL Lafayette’s Delta Lambda Phi chapter.
The book for the story time is still to be determined, but an example of something they would use, called “Be Who You Are” talks about being proud of yourself, even if you’re different.
“It’s to educate people to make them understand that we are just regular people like everyone else,” said fraternity VP, Brad Parfait. He is one of the members who will be participating in the program.
“Delta Lambda Phi is a traditional Greek social organization founded by and for a decidedly nontraditional group: gay, bisexual, and progressive men. For over twenty-five years, Delta Lambda Phi has offered these men the opportunity to lead, to grow, and to form lifelong bonds of friendship with other likeminded men,” the fraternity’s website states.
UL’s chapter is still provisional, having returned to UL this year. They’ve already been recognized by the national organization as being the outstanding colony in the fraternity.
“You know we had a lot of questions and a lot of misconceptions about what they were thinking about doing,” said the director of the Lafayette Public Library, Teresa Elberson.
She says the goal of the event is to talk to young children about family issues, accepting people’s differences and preventing bullying because of those differences.
“We know that the suicide rates for teens is really up when it comes to non conforming teens and we just really thought that it was appropriate for us to have this program in an opening welcoming environment,” she said.
But the conversation has come with controversy.
“We were horrified to learn that our public library is planning promote deviant lifestyles in the name of tolerance,” said one e-mail sent to Elberson.
There were also negative comments on social media, some calling it “sick,” “poisonous,” and “disgusting.”
But for Elberson, the supportive messages outshine the negative.
“We need programming like this to show our children how differences are beautiful, insightful and most importantly completely normal,” read one e-mail that had the director tearing up.
“My own family has had to go through this in the past two years. I’ve had to change my own way of thinking, I’ve had to be more open minded because my family depends on it. We don’t have to understand them, but we do have to accept them,” she said.
And it’s something members of the fraternity say they’ve dealt with before.
“All of us in our lives have experienced some push back we’ve all experienced something that’s made us feel left out and alone and that society doesn’t want us. But we don’t listen to that. We strive to be who we are regardless of that,” said Parfait.
Click here to see an example of a Drag Queen Story Time in New York.