European Christians divided over drag queens reading to children
There is controversy in several European countries around drag queens reading stories to children. Christians differ on how to deal with this.
Should taxpayers fund a man, dressed as an erotic fair queen, reading stories to children? Swedish politicians clashed over this question during a live televised debate on Monday. According to Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the right-wing Sweden Democrats who provide proxy support to the Swedish minority coalition, politicians should set limits on making public funds available for cultural expression. “I think it’s completely insane that “Shameless wine whore" gets tax money to read fairy tales to children”, he said, referring to one of the people who receive tax money to read fairy tales in libraries.
Drag queens are artists who use exaggerated costumes to represent the opposite sex. Most men turn themselves into women with wigs, flashy make-up and fishnet tights. Not always, but very often, the performances are sexualised.
However, Jimmie Åkesson stood alone in criticising the tax-funded drag queens. Some politicians criticised his statements, calling them homophobic. Others, such as the Christian Democrats, argued that politicians should stay away as far as possible from culture. Jakob Forssmed, the Minister of Social Affairs who replaced the holiday-celebrating party leader Ebba Busch during the debate, said that politicians should focus on other things than drag queens, such as creating cohesion and reducing loneliness.
Åkesson defended his position by saying that anyone can read fairy tales to children, but being paid to do so by the Swedish public is another matter. Besides, he argued, there already are some limits to tax-funded culture. “Nobody would want tax money, for example, to go to a Nazi who read fairy tales to children.”
Although the discussion in Sweden is now making national headlines, it is not limited to the Scandinavian country. The issue has been playing out for several years in the United States, where Republicans sometimes try to ban it with legislation. But it is also reaching the European continent.
German media, for example, are these days busy with covering a planned reading in Munich by drag artists for children aged four and over. Drag king ‘Eric Big Clit’, a woman dressing up as a man, is one of the readers. She calls herself a ‘post-pornography performer’, referring to a political art movement from the 1980s which aims to promote sexuality.
The announcement of the reading caused an uproar in southern Germany. Bavaria’s Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger, of the centrist Free Voters party, calls for the youth welfare office to be involved and the reading to be cancelled. According to him, the reading is a threat to the welfare of the children.
Munich’s mayor, Social Democrat Dieter Reiter, also distances himself from the event. He says to Bild that he has no understanding for these kinds of programmes. “I do not think it is suitable for four-year-olds, and I would not go with my grandchildren.” Reiter is supported by the Christian Democrats, who are also upset about the initiative. CSU Secretary-General Martin Huber wrote on Twitter that four-year-olds should play with building blocks, play dough or sand castles. “Let children just be children.”
Bavarian politicians are thus quite united on this initiative. Except for the Greens. They defend the initiative, calling criticism towards it “right-wing extremist agitation.” It is not yet known what will happen to this criticised reading.
The subject of drag queens has also been causing increasing unrest in France and the Netherlands recently. In early March, supporters and opponents of a drag queen reading in Paris marched to the venue. Despite protests, children there were read to by a dressed-up man. In the Netherlands, the same thing happened. The event went ahead despite announced demonstrations and petitions to stop the reading. It was quietly moved to another time, after which the children were told about diversity and gender identity by a transgender man.
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