by Oliver Lewis
The Drag Queen Story hour, sponsored by the YWCA of North Central Washington was met initially with online controversy, but what followed was an outpouring of support and protest. The noise online was followed by a roar of young and old standing under the banner of Pride and speaking out for equity and inclusion.
When the Drag Queen Story Hour event was announced online, the news was greeted with outrage and vitriol from the local conservative community. This, like many reactions to this event across the country, acts as a measure of homophobia and anti-trans sentiment in not only the greater Wenatchee area but in the culture of the United States. It is a frightening revelation that while progress has been made, the vehicles of hate still remain strong enough for people to, without any consideration of how their sentiments might affect our community, attach their name to exclusionary ideology.
The YWCA fielded many angry calls preceding the event, and used them as an opportunity to educate the public. The board of Pybus Public Market voted to ban the event from their premises, forcing the YWCA to pivot at the last minute to host the event in their building.
The Drag Queen Story hour was greeted by many protesters in favor of the event, along with a few carrying leaflets and signs in opposition. It was encouraging to see the in-person protesters show up and speak out after so much online negativity.
The HallowQueens Drag Show was a spectacular celebration of music, dance, and self expression. The Numerica Performing Art Center was completely sold out. The performances featured queens who brought their own style and energy to the stage. The music ranged from Doja Cat to Selena, and the colorful costumes and dynamic choreography was impressive. Halfway through the show, Rachel Tod, director of the YWCA got up and spoke about how our community has room for everyone. This was met by deafening applause and I doubt there was a dry eye in the theater.
Creating this mini documentary deeply affected me. What I learned from witnessing the radical self expression by the queens at the story hour, the show, and the eucharist the following night, was that we can make the world what we want it to be. Just because a city has room to grow doesn’t mean it isn’t growing. There are many people within this community that are showing up every day to fight for rights and inclusion. I have a great amount of respect for that and hope that from their example we can learn to step up and root out exclusionary ideology, in favor of a city which celebrates each human within its borders.