Salvo 11.16.2022 6 minutes

Conservative Apostles for Drag Queen Story Hour

Ugly Sisters 02

Conservatives’ acceptance of viewpoint neutrality will only hasten America’s demise.

Though Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) events at local libraries are presented as innocuous, family-friendly gatherings that help elevate historically oppressed sexual minorities, their real purpose is deliberately subversive. “The drag queen might appear as a comic figure,” Chris Rufo writes in a recent expose in City Journal, “but he carries an utterly serious message: the deconstruction of sex, the reconstruction of child sexuality, and the subversion of middle-class family life.”

According to queer theory advocate Gayle Rubin, traditional concepts of sex and gender were mythologies constructed by powerful, heteronormative forces that sought to persecute those with non-conforming sexual orientations, explains Rufo. By combining a metaphysic that denied that sex, gender, and marriage were unchanging essences and an oppressor-oppressed binary, Rubin hoped to turn traditional sexual norms on their head. In her book Gender Trouble, Judith Butler continued Rubin’s postmodern project by adding the concept of performativity as a mechanism of social change. Once gender’s malleability was established by calling its very reality into question, gender performance through crossdressing, transvestitism, and transgenderism intentionally blurred the lines between the real and unreal, moral and immoral, acceptable and unacceptable.  

Once drag ideology gained a foothold in the academy, drag advocates, according to Rufo, sought to rebrand drag performances as family-friendly, educational story hours in local libraries. But DQSH actually created a new childhood paideia: the stimulation of “queer imagination” among children that would teach them “queer ways of knowing and being” and disrupt the so-called oppressive bourgeois norms their parents had taught them. As Rufo explains, “the goal was not to reinforce the biological family but to facilitate the child’s transition into the ideological family.”

Drag Queen Story Hour seeks to destroy childhood innocence and introduce the most demonic forms of sexual perversion into public life: pedophilia, incest, bestiality, necrophilia, race fetishism, and prostitution.

The “Conservative” Case for Drag

Rufo’s journalistic endeavors help cast new light on the conservative kerfuffle over Drag Queen Story Hour. In a now infamous comment during a debate with Sohrab Ahmari, political commentator David French called DQSH “one of the blessings of liberty.” How did he propose handling DQSH going forward? By holding fast to “viewpoint neutrality,” a term stemming from twentieth century Supreme Court rulings that redefined prior free speech and obscenity jurisprudence. “Handle bad speech with better speech. Counter bad speakers in the marketplace of ideas, not through the heavy hand of government censorship,” said French. Yet Rufo’s revelation that DQSH is a brazen attempt to overthrow the foundations of the created order shows that French’s advice is naive at best. DQSH is the rotten fruit of licentiousness, the manifestation of a disordered conception of the public good and a sign of a weak government that no longer has the will to pursue good and punish evil.

Unfortunately, David French isn’t the only one to get hoodwinked into accepting liberal twentieth century Supreme Court rulings. In his recent book, The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism, Paul D. Miller calls for a qualified embrace of neutrality. Miller argues that to preemptively deny drag queens access to public facilities is an attack on their beliefs and identities, which is unfair and unjust. “Drag queens are people too, and no matter our views on their sexuality, they are tax-paying citizens and deserve equal treatment under law and thus equal access to public resources,” he writes.

But Miller’s argument for public neutrality is shallow and confused. For example, in listing the ways in which government cannot be neutral, Miller cites human sexuality: “neutrality between opposing conceptions of human personhood and human sexuality is impossible.” He continues: “the state cannot be neutral between the belief that human sexuality is fixed, objective, and set by nature . . . and the belief that sexuality is malleable and socially constructed.” Yet as Rufo demonstrates, the latter view is what drag queen ideology explicitly embraces. For Miller, how is government supposed to be neutral on DQSH, which is meant to normalize deviant behavior, while at the same time not be neutral on human sexuality? For local government to permit DQSH at libraries is to tacitly give it a stamp of public approval. Government cannot do both consistently; Miller cannot have it both ways.

Rufo’s reporting reveals the imprudence of French and Miller’s approach. “Drag Queen Story Hour began with voluntary programs at public libraries, which are required by law to provide equal access to organizations regardless of political affiliation or ideology,” Rufo argues. “But within a few years, those state-neutral events have turned into state-subsidized drag performances for children” (italics added). DQSH is a sexual conquistador bent on replacing America’s long-held Christian understanding of created sex differences, public decency, and heterosexual marriage.

French and Miller are unwitting but zealous foot soldiers for the coming full-scale implementation of cultural sexual degeneracy. They are the Stephen A. Douglases of our era, peddling a counterfeit political philosophy of neoliberal freedom much the same way that Douglas’s idea of popular sovereignty—the right of white citizens in western territories to put slavery up to a vote—represented the viewpoint neutral option of his time. The effect of both is the same: to create a populace indifferent to advancing evil. Supporters of DQSH aim to break the American spirit, will, and self-understanding as a people whose liberty is properly ordered toward natural and eternal goods.

Sex, Marriage, and the American Founding

French and Miller’s stances are a clear rejection of the type of civil society the American Founders had in mind. As Matthew J. Peterson has noted, America was not founded as a form of “libertarian liberalism,” with an intentionally naked or neutral public square. For the majority of the Founders, liberty was not merely the absence of external coercion. Instead, it was the proper ordering of one’s life toward temporal goods (e.g., life, liberty, family, work, education, friendship, justice) and eternal goods (e.g., religious worship, knowledge of God, Christian fellowship, a virtuous soul, eternal happiness) as understood by reason and revelation and supported by robust civil law. These goods—known collectively as the “common good”—placed constraints upon individual rights and acted as a bulwark against actions that violated the rights of others or harmed these human goods. America was founded according to an overwhelming Christian conception of natural law and natural rights that sought to protect the life, liberty, and safety of all, while also pursuing the nobler ends of political justice and genuine happiness.

At the time of the Founding, sex, gender, marriage, and the family were thought to be grounded upon the laws of nature and necessary to safeguard the vitality of American civilization. There is no evidence from eighteenth century political and moral literature that these goods were thought to be endlessly adaptable or that marriage was anything other than a monogamous and exclusive heterosexual relationship. Laws against sex outside of marriage, prohibitions on sodomy and bestiality, laws against polygamy and divorce, and attempts to tamp down prostitution, public indecency, and obscenity abounded.

Let’s not deceive ourselves. The ideology behind Drag Queen Story Hour, seeks to undermine, overthrow, and replace the Founding vision of a moral and virtuous people governing themselves according to natural principles of morality and justice. By contrast, those pushing DQSH are working to establish a new regime built upon the lascivious desires of its erotically cultivated subjects, endlessly pursuing even greater depths of perversion and degeneracy. Pundits like David French and Paul Miller may think they are preserving peace, forestalling social conflict, and helping conservatives win religious liberty cases. Yet because of their confusion, they are de facto apostles for Drag Queen Story Hour and are actively helping to sanction its demonic progress. They must be resisted and discredited by patriotic Americans who retain the spirit and political willingness to fight for the country and the people they love.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading

to the newsletter