Storytime is seeing children “in their own element, thriving with the guidance of their parents” | Spare News

During his day on Saturday, Adam Barry stopped at a local store to pick up a few items.

He was, by his own admission, “a bit tired and not having the best day”, but things quickly turned around when he was stopped by a mother who had seen a very different version of Adam.

Hairstylist in Newmarket, when the 25-year-old Aurora resident is on his own, he’s wigged, freshly dressed and undeniably glamorous as Athena Vegas, a drag queen with a hectic schedule of everything from nightclub concerts at drag queen story hours, reaching out to local children and their families at libraries and other area venues.

These story hours have proven to be popular annual family traditions throughout the community, including the Aurora Public Library.

But this encounter was decidedly different.

“They recognized me, told me their daughter had been to a storytelling, a family show in the area, and they loved Athena,” Adam says. “She said her daughter was dancing all the time and saying she was Athena as she twirled around because she was excited for the next show. That’s the kind of effect I want to have on the kids.

But these types of shows are under fire in North America, and in recent weeks similar concerts in the United States have come under increased violent attack from people who say such performances are inappropriate for young people – a point of view which is simply not shared. by many public libraries in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Aurora Public Library believes that everyone should be able to see themselves and their community reflected in the library’s collections and programming,” said Reccia Mandelcorn, community engagement manager for Aurora Public Library. “In 2017, we received a request to host a Drag Queen Story Hour, and it has become a much-anticipated family event every year since. We believe this initiative provides everyone, including and especially children, the opportunity to consider the breadth of human experience.

The response from participants was overwhelmingly positive, supporting the acceptance of diversity and pride in being ourselves.

It’s a view shared by Adam, who will be referred to as Athena beyond this point in the story, who says the backlash is “shocking” and that all drag performers who participate in story hours try to do is give children and their parents “a visual escape to see something larger than life, artistically speaking.”

“It’s always a safe and positive space,” says Athena. “People on the other side pushing storytime readings are more individuals who oversexualize us as artists because they only see certain elements of what we can do, what of which we are capable and the versatility that we bring in the forms of entertainment. It’s not just storytelling, I’ve seen drag shows on the ski slopes. But if it clicks, fits and is safe, people shouldn’t pressure people who are only trying to do good.

“The oversexualization of the artist himself is not done by the artist when he reads a book, nor [through] what they decided to wear in front of the children is usually the adults who have the ability to oversexualize the situation.

For Athena, finding and refining her flirtation was a matter of finding “all the facets that make me and possess best”, including dance, gymnastics, makeup, hair, acting, “wrapped in a bow “.

It was the realization that they could make a career out of all the elements that were already part of them – thanks to flirting.

The love of performing came as no surprise to his family who recall how young Adam was fascinated by performers of all kinds wherever they went and when he wanted to deepen his expression through the arts he never found support from family, friends and loved ones. those.

Athena Vegas debuted in a Richmond Hill pub at the request of York Pride.

She wasn’t the most polished of drag queens at the time and uninspired near her home, she drew inspiration from renowned drag queens like Alyssa Edwards for dancing, Bianca Del Rio for confidence and comedy and, of course, RuPaul for motivation and positivity.

Rapper Nicki Minaj also helped shape Athena’s personality.

In Minaj, Athena found inspiration to find something within herself to “leave an impression on the world” with “all the best qualities of you”.

“Being Athena has taught me to loosen up, lighten up and relax my shoulders – and it’s my turn to have fun with it all. You put it together, now let me have fun. i think i’m slipping [brings to audiences] a sense of escape, a safe escape. People get an example of what else is in the world. You don’t really see people like me on the street putting that much expression, polish, that kind of arts and theater world. It’s a safe escape, but also something to get that little part of your brain to say “Woo!” and we all need it throughout the week.

As Athena gets better and better as a performer, she says her experiences with audiences in Aurora were ones where the good always outweighed the bad, but the situation and the negative reactions in many other communities “certainly make you nervous”.

“It makes you doubt your own safety but, at the same time, you can’t get carried away with unhealthy thinking. The fight has to be a good fight and it has to be healthy because as long as we can get some people to dramatize or overthink the situation, we can come to a common ground of awareness and conversation rather than disagreement. bully and threaten each other, that I’m sure we’ll understand each other much more. Not everything will be for everyone, and this is also where they need to understand their niche and what kind of drag they like.

“At story time, I see moms and dads, but I also see two moms, two dads, but I like to see single parents, especially single dads, who say, ‘This is my son. and he and I are drag race ‘buddies’ and things like that. allow their brain to find their likes and dislikes rather than fearing them before they can make a decision.

“Hate can be taught, but what makes [story times] most gratifying is to see children in their own elements flourish with the guidance of their parents, but also with their parents sometimes stepping back to allow their children to experience it themselves.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *