Good books, glitter, crowns and a top drag performer: story time is about to get fierce.
Following up on the success of its first Drag Story Time event last fall, the members of Raise Up Fundraising are holding a second one, hoping to offer kids (and adults) a lighthearted, fun and important way to learn about acceptance, individuality, identity and self-love.
Happening at Chapters in St. John’s on Sunday, March 25 at 3 p.m., Drag Story Time will be hosted this time around by Doctor Androbox, local drag performer and 2017 Drag Idol winner. Doctor Androbox will read aloud from some storybooks before leading participants in a royal crown-making craft and then posing for pictures.
“We try to make things fun,” explained Charlie Murphy, president of Raise Up Fundraising. “We’re hoping anyone who comes will take away the concept that this is normal, it’s how people express themselves, it’s not a big deal. We want to take away the stigma, and show them that we all want to feel respected and loved and accepted.”
Dr. Androbox, who has become one of the city’s best-known drag performers over the past five years, agreed.
“This event is a great opportunity to normalize variation in gender expression. When kids see someone in drag, it tells them that it’s safe to experiment with their own gender presentation,” he said.
Raise Up Fundraising was established a few years ago by a group of people who were board members for another community group, Murphy said. They got to talking about ways they could support marginalized community members and organizations that weren’t receiving the help they required, both financially and otherwise, and founded Raise Up with the goal of doing exactly that.
The group’s mission is to work with marginalized people and organizations as a source of support, coming up with creative fundraising events and other projects.
Past events have included a sock drive for local shelters; a comedy night in support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre; DanceWalk, an event held in recognition of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia; and its flagship annual event, Drag Bingo. The latter is exactly like it sounds, a fusion of bingo and drag show, which has proven popular and allowed Raise Up to support a handful of different projects.
This year’s Drag Bingo event will happen in July, and Raise Up is looking at changing the process in which it identifies recipients. Individuals or community groups will be able to apply for help raising the specific amount of money needed for a certain initiative.
“That way, we’ll be able to share it and help a number of people,” Murphy explained.
To that end, Raise Up will seek sponsors and donors as Drag Bingo night gets closer.
Murphy said Raise Up hopes to broaden the reach of its support, both in terms of geography and the people and organizations it helps.
“We want to take things outside St. John’s,” Murphy said.
Drag Story Time is a free event, but participants are encouraged to sign up in advance by calling or stopping by Chapters. All ages are welcome, though priority is given to children, Murphy said, and Chapters will have a display of LGBTQ+-friendly, anti-bullying and self-acceptance-themed books on display. Raise Up hopes to make Drag Story Time a semi-regular event, and is planning the next one for the Mount Pearl Public Library in May.
More information on Raise Up Fundraising and its upcoming events is available online at www.raiseupfundraising.org.