Wellington Library storytime takes kids to drag queen’s Promised Land
Drag Queen Storytime brought kids together with drag performer LaQuisha St Redfern at Wellington Central Library over the past two Saturday mornings.
The inaugural event is part of Wellington’s Pride Festival, which culminates in the annual parade in the city on Saturday.
Their performance was well received with a bouquet of flowers and tears to the song “Rainbow Connection” at the end.
For LaQuisha, the stars had aligned.
They and a friend had been talking about a similar event recently held in New York and how great it would be to have something similar in Wellington.
“And at the same time, the Pride Committee had approached somebody at the library about it, without us knowing,” LaQuisha says.
The event was run over the last two Saturdays and it is estimated about thirty children attended on each day.
Amid the controversy over transgender rights and bathrooms raised by New Zealand group Family First and US President Donald Trump about, LaQuisha feels role models for the young are important.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have role models,” they say.
“So my thing for years has been about visibility. ‘Silence equals death’, it’s really heavy but that’s kind of my thing.”
LaQuisha has been dressing in drag since they were 17 years old, after a childhood expressing fascination with feminine clothing and make up.
They were inspired by the iconic Dame Edna character created by Australian comedian Barry Humphreys.
“I remember growing up as a kid and seeing Dame Edna and not really understanding that she was in drag,” they say.
“I just saw this person who was amazing and I wanted to be like them.”
In retrospect, La Quisha laments their lack of non-binary role models in their childhood.
“I’ve never really been a ‘proper man’. Non-binary, whatever the language is.
All I could see was men, women and drag queens. And so I thought ‘oh, yeah! I must be a drag queen’.’”
They say the Wellington Pride Parade has grown immensely since it’s small beginnings.
“I think it’s ambitious,” they say.
They recall the Wellington Pride Festival roots as a small fair at Newtown school as part of the fight for marriage equality.
“Then it ended up in Civic Square, for years and years. Then it was much more visible because people had just been in town and then it was like ‘hey, a fair!’.
“And then they decided to move it to Waitangi Park, which took it up a notch again.
And I have to say every time it gets bigger, I get a bit nervous.
No one here is a professional, they’re all government people and enthusiastic volunteers.”
“But, they seem to have pulled it off.”
The main march will be held on Saturday March 18, starting on Cambridge Terrace.
It will make its way via Courtenay Place to Waitangi Park, for the event Out In The Park.