TRENDS Diary: Miss Shirley’s “Drag Queen Storytime” Celebrates, Encourages, Inclusion and Diversity

Miss Shirley has hosted ‘Drag Queen Storytime’ at libraries in Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette

TRENDS Diary, a project of the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is a place for Boulder County residents of all ages to share personal experiences that relate to a pressing community need. The focus, for now, is on our shared need to connect and solve problems, despite the increased isolation we’re all experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dear TRENDS Diary,

My name is Miss Shirley, and I love reading books. There are times when I feel lonely and different and isolated and uncertain, but I often meet somebody on the pages of a book who provides me with comfort or encouragement. And that’s when I start to realize that some of the characters on those pages are real people walking around me in my day-to-day life. And that encourages me to introduce myself so I don’t feel so alone.

The only thing I love more than reading books is reading books to children. That’s why I host “Drag Queen Storytime with Miss Shirley” at libraries all over Boulder County. There are hundreds of great children’s stories that deal with characters realizing they are somehow different, going as far back as “The Ugly Duckling.” Books that show us how characters have struggled through that conflict and how they eventually grow to live as their authentic self. And if there is a unicorn or a narwhal along the way, all the better.

I also love to introduce families to stories they haven’t heard before, like “Perfectly Norman,” by Tom Percival. It’s about a little boy who grows a pair of wings, but he is unsure how people in his life will respond to them. So he covers them up with a coat. But when he does, he soon realizes he can’t do all the things he wants to do. So he blames his wings – when really it’s the coat that is the problem.

My goal is to celebrate and encourage inclusion and diversity. There are different types of people in the world and different ways to live your life, and just because they are different doesn’t mean they are bad or wrong. If we don’t get to know people who are different from ourselves, then how can we make a human connection?

– Miss Shirley, played by Stuart Sanks, as told to John Moore

Miss Shirley has hosted ‘Drag Queen Storytime’ at libraries in Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette