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‘Let me tell you a story’: Drag queens, trans beauty queens read books for Mandaue youth

To cultivate empathy for members of the LGBTQIA community among young people in Mandaue City, Kaabag LGBT Federation started 6014 Mandaue Pride Month with “Queen Story Hour”, a book reading involving local drag queens from Cebu Drag Queens, and transgender title holders of the Reina de Mandaue beauty pageant.

In an effort to cultivate empathy for members of the LGBTQIA community among young people in Mandaue City, Kaabag LGBT Federation started 6014 Mandaue Pride Month with “Queen Story Hour”, a book reading involving local drag queens from Cebu Drag Queens, as well as transgender women who are also title holders of the Reina de Mandaue beauty pageant.

The presence of members of the LGBTQIA community – which was inspired by Drag Story Hour in the US – builds on the storytelling already done by Mandaue Library with World Vision since 2003 to promote functional literacy via book reading.

This time around, “we wanted to give our kids from Mandaue something different to understand, like gender and loving themselves,” said Dmitri Cortes, Kaabag LGBT Federation advisor and/or 6014 Mandaue Pride March organizer.

For Cortes, aside from cultivating empathy, this is also an opportunity to “enhance critical thinking, introduce SOGIESC concepts to children, and foster creative expression through the promotion of cultural awareness of the diverse SOGIESC movements.”

Already, those who have already read for the Queen Story Hour were transgender woman Reina de Mandaue 2024 Shawi Roman, and Mandaue-based drag queens Maria Lava from DragDen Philippines Season 2 and Blacc Dahlia. The book shared – “Being You, A First Conversation About Gender” by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli and Anne/Andy Passchier – was chosen “because it was the most basic and interesting story book that made SOGIESC very simple to grasp for children.”

Cortes said that it helps that the Mandaue City Public Library already has partnerships with the 27 barangays of the city. For the pilot, around 40 children participated from Barangay Paknaan, and 35 in Barangay Mantuyong.

Cortes is aware that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that there may even be haters who may say that an effort like Queen Story Hour could badly influence children. But “we are not promoting pedophilia and other nefarious agendas. We are there to prove that there is more to drag than just being an art form, or other preconceptions, and that it can be a platform for change and education. We want to clarify that we just spearheaded Pride month with empathy, fun and understanding.”

Another Queen Story Hour session is scheduled for Barangay Paknaan on June 22 with Cebuana drag queen Piayuuuh.

For those wanting to have a similar activity and want to engage you, contact the Mandaue City Public Library, the main organizer of Queen Story Hour, at:
Email: library@mandauecity.gov.ph
Ph: +63 32 342 7308

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