When folks with the Queens Public Library want to celebrate, they call their friends over at Drag Queen Story Hour.
Residents, officials and lawmakers gathered at the public library in Jackson Heights on Thursday for a special reading by New York City-based drag queen Angel Elektra to commemorate increases in public library funding included in the city’s 2020 fiscal budget.
“It is a pleasure for Queens Public Library to welcome Angel Elektra back to our Jackson Heights branch to capture the imaginations of children and adults through an amazing storytelling experience,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott.
Approved in June, the budget includes nearly $564 million for public libraries, including an expense funding increase of $33 million and another $25,000 set aside for Drag Queen Story Hour programming.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens), chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, said the funding increase will ensure that even more New Yorkers can enjoy the diverse programming offered by public libraries.
“I am especially proud to support Drag Queen Story Hour, a wonderfully imaginative and inclusive program for kids that encourages acceptance and a love of reading,” Van Bramer said. “Drag Queen Story Hour provides all kids with a space to be themselves and to see queer role models — something I desperately needed as a kid.”
The New York City chapter of the nonprofit Drag Queen Story Hour promotes literacy while educating children about diversity and inclusivity at libraries, schools and community spaces across the city. The drag queens, trained by children’s librarians, often read books, sing songs and teach kids crafts.
The group’s executive director, Rachel Aimee, said the funding will allow them to expand their bilingual and special needs programs in Queens.
“We’re excited to be able to bring more Drag Queen Story Hour programming to Queens Public Library branches this year thanks to generous support from Council Members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer,” Aimee said.
Dromm (D-Queens), chair of the Finance Committee, and Van Bramer each contributed $5,000 toward Drag Queen Story Hour funding for programming in their respective district libraries.
“Drag Queen Story Hour is a fun and fabulous way of encouraging children to read. It is also a great way to teach them to embrace our society’s differences and diversity,” Dromm said. “It is no wonder that the program enjoys such widespread popularity throughout the city. Thanks to the funding the council has allocated to the program, many more families will now be able to experience the joy of participating in Drag Queen Story Hour.”