TAUNTON — “For me, I’m helping kids feel less alone by reading these books. I just want to get that message across, that no matter how they grow up, they still matter,” said Jason Carter, who, under the stage name of Monica Moore, will be conducting Drag Queen Story Hour at the Taunton Public Library, a first for the city, on Saturday, May 14.
Starting in 2015, Drag Queen Story Hour — where drag queens read heavily illustrated books to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores — has grown into a popular activity done across the nation.
According to its official website, Drag Queen Story Hour “encourages children to look beyond gender stereotypes and embrace unfettered exploration of self. Programs like DQSH encourage acceptance of difference and help to prevent bullying, while providing an enjoyable literary experience.”
“It’s important because it normalizes the idea that people can be whomever or whatever they want to be,” said Mija Almeida, a member of the SouthCoast LGBTQ+ Network in charge of organizing and expanding programs and events into Taunton.
The stories read usually deal with the topics of difference, inclusion and acceptance.
One of the books to be read by Monica Moore will be “Worm Loves Worm,” by JJ Austrian, which is a children’s story highly praised in the LGBTQ+ community.
Almeida added that events like this help normalize LGBTQ+ acceptance because younger children aren’t usually bothered by drag.
“Children are able to help parents see this is just another part of the spectrum of who people are,” Almeida said.
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This will be Carter’s first time doing story hour. He explained that performing as Monica Moore at drag shows at Bobby’s Place Nightclub in Taunton is where he learned how to get involved with Pride events.
“I wanted to expand on my drag character. I wanted to show that drag is more than putting on makeup, dancing around and putting on a show. We can have a message,” Carter said.
For Carter, reading to kids is a big deal, and he is excited that his little brother will be in attendance.
“He loves seeing me dress up,” Carter said.
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Drag Queen Story Hour is happening from 1-2 pm, Saturday, May 14, at the Taunton Public Library. The stories being read are for ages 3-10, and the event is free to attend.
The event is part of the SouthCoast LGTBQ+ Network’s efforts to expand across the region, such as the upcoming Taunton Pride Festival, which is happening Saturday, June 11, from 12-5p.m. at Hopewell Park.
According to Almeida, the Taunton Pride Festival will have music, drag queens walking around and performing all day, assorted food and product vendors and many different health and wellness organizations in attendance.
There will also be a children’s area which will provide such activities as face painting, arts and crafts and life-sized interactive versions of games Connect Four and Jenga.
“It will be a well-rounded event meant to celebrate Pride month and the LGBTQ+ community in Taunton,” Almeida said.
To learn more about or volunteer with the Taunton Pride Festival, contact the SouthCoast LGBTQ+ Network.