The Guardian explores the phenomena of Drag Queen Story Hour, by focusing on an event at a bookstore in Helena, Montana, and then broadening out to look at the wider picture:

The premise of Drag Queen Story Hour is simple: to have drag performers dressed as queens, mermaids, mythical goddesses and other larger-than-life characters hosting children’s story hours, much to the delight of young people and their parents. The events have proved so popular, they’ve spread through urban and rural communities like an explosion of glitter.

Drag Queen Story Hour was created in 2015 by queer writer Michelle Tea and Radar, a Bay Area queer literary arts group. Since then, the original concept has solidified into a non-profit with more than 50 chapters around the US and abroad. Some drag story hours, like the July event in Helena, are unaffiliated with the organization but produce similar events. The founding organization says the events are perfectly calibrated for young people who are learning about the world around them. Drag Queen Story Hour, the website says, “captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood”, while giving kids “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models”.

The group’s mission has drawn polarized responses. Supporters have welcomed bedazzled performers to libraries, bookstores and schools, celebrating drag performance as an art form and antidote to normative gender roles. Opponents have demonstrated with signs and bullhorns, framing the events as depraved and dangerous for children…