submitted by Pamela Schwieger, Youth Services Coordinator at East Providence Public Library
I am proud to report that, on Saturday, June 25, the East Providence Public Library held its first Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH). Aside from the heat, it was a beautiful day filled with love and acceptance, fun, and lots of color! Our DQSH was part of the largest Pride Event the city of East Providence has ever had. The day began with an inaugural East Providence Pride Parade, followed by a flag raising and speakers at City Hall; and continuing with music, GIANT bubbles, crafts, and LGBTQIA+ informational tables on the lawn at Weaver Library. And, of course, the culmination of the day, what everyone was waiting for, was the Drag Queen Story Hour performed so fabulously by Haley Star.
Our Pride Event and DQSH turned out to be a wonderful celebration of diversity and inclusion, however, the weeks leading up to the event had their ups and downs. We had the pleasure of collaborating with East Providence’s new LGBTQIA+ Advisory Board and Mayor DaSilva who encouraged us to turn our DQSH program into a larger, all-afternoon, Pride event. We were also supported by local agencies like PFLAG Providence, EPHS Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Newman Congregational Church, the Parasol Patrol, and more. Although we were given much positive feedback, not everyone was happy to hear about this event, and we also received phone calls and social media posts from members of the local and statewide community whose goal was to have the event canceled. Our performer, Haley Star, was also the victim of a great deal of hate speech. So much so that she took to her Facebook page to make a statement to defend the DQSH and invite others to come and support East Providence Pride Day.
Thank you to Haley Star for being the brave person that you are, and for so eloquently reminding us that: “Events like these are for the children who don’t quite feel 100% seen yet, and have family members strong enough and brave enough to bring them there to experience an afternoon of joy, laughter and love to allow them to develop into their own true self.” I hope the children who attended this program felt encouraged to be exactly who they are, and to accept the differences of others.
And, finally, thank you to Rashaa Al-Sasah, Emma Brelsford, Colin McCullough, and all the staff at West Warwick Public Library for hosting their DQSH in 2021. From the moment I left your incredibly positive and uplifting event last year, I knew that I needed to bring Drag Queen Story Hour to the families of East Providence.