By Dr. Emily Maxson
**In this post, Aledade's Chief Medical Officer shares how she and her children have come to love the annual "Drag Queen Story Hour" hosted by Aledade's Pride Affinity Resource Group - just one of many ways that Aledaders are celebrating Pride Month this year.**
Just last week, my daughters Nina and Heidi (ages 4 and 2) raced back into my office with me after work, bedecked in finery. After a year of waiting, it was finally time again for Drag Queen Story Hour.
The inaugural Drag Queen Story Hour was a colorful innovation born in Pandemic darkness. Undaunted by the public health mandate to celebrate Pride Month in social isolation, Aledade’s Pride Affinity Resource Group created a magical tradition when they invited the divine Mr Ms Adrien to read to our children.
In her first go around, it took Orlando-based Queen Mr Ms Adrien all of five seconds to steal our hearts in gorgeous drag. When she returned to Zoom this year, she was Aledade family.
Heidi bounced on my knee and Nina sat perched next to me on her stool as Mr Ms read two beautiful stories. The first, And Tango Makes Three, tells the story of Roy and Silo, two male zoo penguins in love who are given the opportunity to hatch and raise a baby penguin of their own. The second, Julián is a Mermaid, is a magnificently illustrated, sparsely worded tale about Julian’s self discovery and his abuela’s boundless love, acceptance and support.
Of course, Drag Queen Story hour in the hands of Mr Ms is far better than a tame library read along. Resplendent in her blue wig and sparkling eyeshadow, adorned in her own Mermaid dress, Mr Ms transfixed us all with her honest and vulnerable commentary (“I wish they had had these books when I was growing up. I didn’t have anything like these.”) and sense of humor (“No, I haven’t met Princess Elena. She’s a Princess and I’m a Queen - we run in different social circles”). She answered our questions and our children’s (she loves black and white, her favorite piece of jewelry are her [impressive!] rings, and if she could be any Disney character, she’d choose Cruella DeVille).
And then Mr Ms Adrien took the stage. It didn’t matter that she was in her wardrobe closet - she would have transfixed her audience no matter where she danced.
In my house, this performance propelled countless Alexa requests for Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” I am sure that it emboldened my daughter to question why the boys in her class weren’t given the flowered headbands that she and the other girls received for her end of year performance. And it gave us an opportunity to celebrate confidence, self expression and love.
The true gift Mr Ms Adrien offers us each year is her ability to show - loudly and without ambiguity - the definition of Pride. Let us all be as comfortable in ourselves. Let us all be who we are and who we want to be. Let us all love who we love, including ourselves, without judgement. Let us all live, and let love.
Today and always, I am a proud parent, a proud Aledader and a proud Ally.