Amid a Drag Queen Story Hour last Sunday at the Vancouver (Washington) Community Library, performer Tree Empress 45 Onalicious Mercury asked the roomful of children what they want be when they grow up, the Columbian reported.
Video capturing the exchange showed one child in a pink princess-style dress answering, "Spider-Man."
Onalicious replied, "You want to be a Spider-Man? Wow!"
Then after a pause, the performer offered an alternative: "Or Princess Spider-Man — you never know. You can be anything you want. I'm a drag queen."
Drag Queen tells three year old boy he can be Princess Spider-Man youtu.be
The video description indicates the child in question is a 3-year-old boy, but no secondary sources corroborate that assertion. It isn't clear why the drag queen added the "princess" encouragement to the child.
But the Columbian did note that among the protesters against the event was Republican state Rep. Vicki Kraft, who said the Drag Queen Story Hour promotes "gender confusion, which is damaging to children."
"It's taking advantage of young minds," Kraft added to the paper.
'We're just trying to be a positive image of your dreams can come true'
Onalicious Mercury is the alter ego of Owen McHatton, the Columbian said, adding that he's been performing in drag for more than a decade.
"We're the embodiment of fantasy and fairy tales," McHatton told the paper. "Why not be for kids?"
McHatton read books "featuring messages of self-expression and self-acceptance" such as "Julian is a Mermaid," which the Columbian added is "about a little boy whose grandmother encourages him to dress as the mythical aquatic creature."
"We're just trying to be a positive image of your dreams can come true," McHatton added to the paper. "What your imagination is telling you can come true."
At Drag Queen Story Hour, children ‘just see the love’; Kids bedazzled, engaged, excited amid protests outside even… https://t.co/MwtlHCzSOh— The Columbian (@The Columbian)1572297377.0
Ken Mach attended the event with his 4-year-old daughter Hazel and defended the Drag Queen Story Hour.
"We support programs that allow kids to see and celebrate all marginalized people," Mach told the Columbian, adding that he wants his children to celebrate "the unique qualities we all have" and that kids "don't see the negativity. They just see the love."
Here's another clip from the event, featuring Onalicious Mercury reading from a book titled, "Mary Had a Little Glam":
Drag Queen Story Hour - Mary Had A Little “Glam" www.youtube.com
'If Jesus were here he'd be having a really good time'
During a community panel that took place prior to the Drag Queen Story Hour, a licensed therapist and a local pastor backed the event, Clark County Today reported.
Rev. Jo Ann Schaadt Shipley — co-pastor of Camas United Methodist Church — told the panel crowd, "I think if Jesus were here he'd be having a really good time."
With that, several people in the audience held up signs that said "false" or "not true," the outlet said.
A seven member panel spoke at Fort Vancouver Regional Library’s downtown Vancouver branch this week about Drag Quee… https://t.co/BzgjYi0l9X— ClarkCountyToday.com (@ClarkCountyToday.com)1570836646.0
"I think it's true, actually," Shipley countered, according to Clark County Today. "He loved to go out on the margins, he loved to find the people who didn't think they were welcome, and he loved to pull them in."
Mackenzie Dunham — a licensed therapist who specializes in working with gay, lesbian, and transgender people — responded to one question regarding if children seeing a drag queen perform could potentially be confused sexually, the outlet noted.
"Children who are gender explorative or gender expansive come about that in all different ways," she replied, the outlet said, "and sometimes it holds true and sometimes it does not. But what is important is that we give them the freedom to do that. When we don't give them the freedom to do that, it's actually a very shaming experience for them. It tells them that curiosity is unsafe … and it makes learning things that are different scary."