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There's no Drag Queen Story Hour in San Diego, one person is working to change that

Leah Shuchter, the President of Mission Hills Town Council, is working to bring a Drag Queen Story Hour to San Diego.
Photo credit:
Leah Shuchter - Facebook

With the popularity of Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) in some of America's well-known cities, it is pretty surprising that San Diego doesn't have a chapter yet.

That fact wasn't lost on Leah Shuchter, the President of Mission Hills Town Council, who is hoping to bring such an event to San Diego libraries, especially the new one on Washington Street. 

Shuchter says she loves the concept and has been following DQSH since its inception.

Drag Queen Story Hour is an organization that started in Nothern California's bay area by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions. What was initially drag performers sitting in front of kids and reading books, blossomed into something of a world phenomenon. 

Their site says: "Our organization’s headquarters are in New York City where we create programming curriculum, produce over a hundred events a year, and provide resources, training, and support to build our growing network of DQSH chapters all over the world."

As a mother, Shuchter wanted that inspiration to reach San Diego too, so when she saw that the University Heights library was looking for a storyteller, she got an idea. 

"I reached out to some friends who might be interested and told them to apply to the listing," Shuchter says. "Then the Mission Hills/Hillcrest library added a posting. I was going to reach out to other libraries once the volunteer applications were underway to gauge interest by other libraries and check in on University Height's librarian for their experiences."

Although the premise seems straightforward, the program actually does a lot more than entertain kids with book readings. "DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."

Last month local drag celebrity Glitz Glam posted a call to action on Facebook to bring a drag story hour to Mission Hills and it got a positive response.

Shuchter says she has also been talking to dancer Deven Brawley who goes by the drag name Nomi D'shire. He says he helped start a similar program in Michigan. 

As for compensation, the storytellers would be considered volunteers at first, but Shuchter doesn't think that's right.

"I'll be doing some fundraising for this project," she says. "These performers/storytellers deserve to be compensated for their time, and until the library has this program settled, the storytellers will be there as volunteers; I hope that we can arrange for compensation, so that mechanism is also getting worked out - but if people want to donate, I'm happy to set up some kind of informal (transparent/above-board) go-fund-me kind of situation."

If you are interested in helping with this project you can contact Shuchter at leah.shuchter@gmail.com.