GLAAD Video Interview: Drag Queen Story Hour Board Member Lil Miss Hot Mess Reads from Latest Children’s Book, Responds to Hateful Drag Queen Backlash

June 9, 2022


GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today released an exclusive interview with Lil Miss Hot Mess, a drag queen, children’s book author, and board member of Drag Queen Story Hour. Her latest picture book with illustrator Olga de Dios Ruiz, If You’re A Drag Queen and You Know It, was published by Running Press Kids, a Hachette Book Group imprint, on May 17th. It is her second children’s book, following 2020’s The Hips On The Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish. Both books are colorful, fun plays on classic nursery rhymes that encourage kids to sing, dance, move, and express themselves creatively.

Watch the interview with Lil Miss Hot Mess and GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos on Instagram here and on YouTube here.

The interview is part of GLAAD’s ongoing #BooksNotBans campaign, which responds to book bans and school censorship by uplifting the work of LGBTQ authors as well as working with coalition partners to speak out against censorship. Authors previously interviewed in the series include GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and her wife Kristen Ellis-Henderson (All Moms), George M. Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue), Harry Woodgate (Grandad’s Camper), and Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer.)

Lil Miss Hot Mess was recently targeted by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who objected to a drag queen story reading scheduled at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany as a kickoff event for Pride month. In a May 27 letter and press release, Rubio inaccurately referred to drag queen story hours as “sexually charged content.”  While GLAAD’s interview with Lil Miss Hot Mess was recorded prior to Rubio’s actions, she responded to Rubio on Twitter here, calling Rubio’s comment “an attack…on the lives of LGBTQ+ people.”  The incident came exactly one year after Lil Miss Hot Mess was targeted by anti-LGBTQ activists for reading from her book on the PBS program Let’s Learn. Critics have spread misinformation about drag story hours and performers for the last few years, and this week threats of violence led to the cancellation of an event in North Carolina. After an anti-LGBTQ protest outside of a family drag event in Dallas, Texas Rep. Bryan Slaton announced on Tuesday he planned to introduce legislation banning minors from drag shows.

In her exclusive interview with GLAAD, Lil Miss Hot Mess discussed book bans and school censorship

“I see something like Drag Queen Story Hour as an antidote to that, as providing spaces for kids to learn about the diversity, about the creativity, and honestly the fabulousness in their communities. There are LGBTQ+ people in every community—whether we are in drag, whether we’re reading at your library or not—we’re there, and kids have a right to understand and to learn about members of their community and the world around them.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess on childrens’ responses to Drag Queen Story Hour

“It’s just such a gift to get to sing and dance along, and to get to see the smiles on their faces, and to get to witness some of those ‘A-HA’ moments when they realize that things aren’t necessarily the way they’ve always been told they have to be. Kids take so much out of it. I think they see drag queens, hopefully, as role models who get to play dress-up for a living and exercise our creativity and our imaginations.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess on what drag queens contribute to society

“We’re not just pretty, we’re not just entertainers, we don’t just love to wear lots of sparkles and sequins and lots and lots of makeup…we’re also active in our communities. We have long histories of raising money for causes that we believe in, leading protests and parades—some drag queens have even run for president!”

Lil Miss Hot Mess on how to fight anti-LGBTQ book bans

“Voting with your dollars, in this case, is one of the most helpful things that we can do to show that there is demand for this type of literature…to really say ‘we’re craving these stories, we need this diversity.’ And to ask for [LGBTQ books] in your libraries, in your school libraries. Because that’s where book bans start, at this local level where curmudgeonly parents—or oftentimes not parents but just hateful people—start challenging books, asking for them to be taken off the shelves, even stealing them out of libraries. So the more that libraries know that patrons want this material, that we demand access to it, the better.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess on the importance of LGBTQ inclusive media for kids

“I was always that kid who loved to dress up and explore my feminine side, my kind of proto-queer side. I would put a towel on my head and call it a wig, and wear my mom’s high heels and put on shows in the backyard. I think if I had been given a channel to push that into and to explore that through, it would have been incredible. Getting to see some of these kids experience this, to shimmy their shoulders, to swish their hips, to snap their fingers, the things we do in the books…they’re the things that I was made fun of or discouraged from doing when I was a kid. I want to create that safe space for kids to do it today.”

Lil Miss Hot Mess on how drag queens respond to anti-LGBTQ hate

“We like to get creative and like to bring the drag attitude back to the haters. Sometimes when people organize protests outside of our events, we do things like fundraisers where we say we’re gonna raise donations for every minute that these haters are out here. For every protester that shows up we’re gonna get people to pledge to give five dollars. And that’s a way of using that drag spirit of twisting things against these people who are out to get us.”

●      To learn more about Lil Miss Hot Mess and her books, visit her website here.

●      To learn more about Drag Queen Story Hour, visit the organization’s website here.

●      GLAAD’s guide to reporting on book bans and school censorship is here

●      The #BooksNotBans coalition letter signed by GLAAD and over 600 other organizations and individuals is here.