Why drag queens should lead children’s sing alongs

One early afternoon, my partner and I were exploring a street festival in Lincoln Square when we stopped to watch a performance meant for kiddos. Two drag queens dressed in animal costumes were preparing to read a children’s story. To get the kids’ attention, they did a sing along (as a former camp counselor, I know this trick well). It was “Old MacDonald,” the most boring participatory children’s song you could choose. They started to sing and I was ready to keep walking.

When they got to the signature “and on this farm there was a …,” I was prepared for a cow, a chicken, a sheep, your standard barn animal, but these weren’t your “standard” song leaders.

“A unicorn!” one kid shouted out, and the drag queens neighed. “Dinosaur!” another shouted and so the leaders roared. “A narwhal!” said another kid. This stopped the queens in their tracks. What does a narwhal sound like?

Adults with and without kids began to gather and chuckle at the most creative Old MacDonald we’ve ever heard.

The drag queens did nothing to prompt these fantastic suggestions except to exist as they were. I like to think that their creative outfits and energy opened up a realm of possibilities for these youngsters to imagine a farm beyond the bounds of the traditional song.

At least, that’s the type of world I want to live in, one where our authenticity can spark creativity and joy. Especially in a world that is trying to snuff it out by deeming drag and other expressions of queer joy as evil, dangerous and even illegal.

Perhaps it’s time for Old Mac to hang up their overalls, put on some heels and raise a herd of unicorns. Maybe that’s the type of world we should all strive for. The kids are ready for it.

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When two drag performers led ‘Old MacDonald’ the kids imagined a world full of wonder and possibility. Why can’t we?

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