Drag Queen Story Hour A Success at Holliston Public Library

  By Jessica Payne and Barbara Fritts Worby

On June 15, 2024 the Holliston Public Library hosted its first Drag Queen Story hour. This event was sponsored and paid for by HolliPride, a Holliston organization which has planned LGBTQ+ Pride month activities for the past four years. HolliPride independently raised funds to host Just JP, a local Drag Queen who is an entertainer, producer, host and speaker. Just JP has participated in a number of Drag Story Hour events and came highly recommended from the Drag Story Hour organization.

Drag Story Hour is a national 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to “celebrate reading through the glamorous art of drag.” From their website, “Our chapter network creates diverse, accessible, and culturally-inclusive family programming where kids can express their authentic selves and become bright lights of change in their communities. We envision a world where kids can learn from LGBTQ+ stories and experiences to love themselves, celebrate the fabulous diversity in their communities, and stand up for what they believe in and each other.” 

Holliston community members greeted Just JP with a “wall of love” as they arrived. Community members donned their favorite rainbow clothing, carried Pride flags, and lined the entrances of the library while clapping and cheering for Just JP to show them support.

HolliPride and the Holliston Public Library worked with a representative from Drag Story Hour and Just JP to develop security protocols around the event to ensure the safety of the entertainer and the participants. This event required pre-registration for a variety of reasons, safety being the number one concern. The wall of love was another one of these protocols. This was necessary because Drag Story Hours have come under attack over the past few years, with the ACLU currently tracking 527 proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Drag story hours across the country have been canceled due to threats of violence against performers. 

In Holliston, the event at the library on June 15 received a flurry of attention on social media. A handful of critics expressed their concern about the appropriateness of Just JP as the choice for a children’s reader and questioned why this was necessary. For more information on this frequently asked question and others, please check out the press release for this event. Other online commenters were explicitly hateful in their comments and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. The large majority, however, expressed an outpouring of support for this event in the online forums. There were no protesters at the event itself, and the energy was overwhelmingly welcoming and positive. 

In fact, the Drag Story Hour on June 15 at the Holliston Public Library was sold out. 

For their sold out Story Hour, Just JP wore a one piece sequined Star Trek bodysuit, a head full of wild, black curly hair, and colorful make-up. They read four stories to a room full of excited children and their caregivers. The books ranged from explaining the origins of Pride, to books about finding one’s place in this world (Are You My Planet?, by Lori Haskins Houran) and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear. Just JP brought a long, rainbow boa for the children to fidget with during the story reading, and also had movement breaks in between the stories where they sang songs and had the children move to help keep them engaged.

The registration spots for Just JP’s story hour in Holliston were filled within a few days and a number of attendees provided feedback about this event. The overwhelming consensus was that there should be more LBGTQIA+ events like this at the library. Many of the caregivers providing feedback have asked for either a return of Just JP or another Drag Queen because they and their children enjoyed the Drag Story Hour so much.

Here are a few of the testimonials given by families who were present that day:

Audra Friend: It was a wonderful event! My wife and I and our 9-year-old attended. I appreciated the wide range of book topics that were read: a child and a parent spend the day together and all the good and bad things that happened to them; a book about space; and a book about Pride. Plus little movement breaks and songs that were very fun. As a queer Holliston family, it was so reassuring to see so many folks come out for the event too. It really made our day so lovely – to kick it off with sort of the warm, cozy, noisy joy of families together having fun – an event that’s absolutely emblematic of what our library represents to our community!

Marney Howes: We absolutely loved the event, thanks so much for hosting!

Our experience was amazing, JP was so inclusive, funny, and inviting. We loved every second! Our favorite part was how well JP interacted with the kids via the books. So many fun questions and comments. We would love to see JP again at the library! We’d love to see more LGBTQIA+ events at the library!

Pat Fuller: As a 40 year patron of the Holliston public library and former trustee for a dozen years, I could not have been more excited about yet another effort by Holliston Public Library  to bring more diversity to our little town. Although I was only able to stay for one story, I found Just JP to be lively, articulate, compassionate, refreshingly silly and so much fun in their ability to engage the children. It would be great to have a drag story once a month.

In addition to the Drag Story Hour, HolliPride hosted a Pride Celebration in Holliston’s Blair Square on June 1 and has advocated for the flying of the Pride flag on government buildings in town. The group is responsible for the Pride banners that have accompanied the Holliston 300th signs on the lamposts on Washington Street and for over 30 Holliston businesses hanging Pride flags in their windows for LGBTQ+ Pride month this June. HolliPride also encouraged Fiske’s to stock Pride flags so that residents may support this local business and their LGBTQ+ community members.

 HDAAC (Holliston Drug and Alcohol Awareness Coalition) sponsored yard signs for HolliPride that residents and businesses can obtain free of charge. Yard signs range from expressions of “This Home/Business Supports the LGBTQ+ community in Holliston, “Celebrate Love, Diversity and Community in Holliston”, and “We Are All One Community” (Spanish versions available as well). 

If you wish to have a sign in your yard, please contact HDACC at Hdaacoalition@gmail.com. If you wish to become more involved with HolliPride, please find us on Facebook or email us at hollipride@gmail.com. Happy Pride Holliston!  

Barbara Fritts Worby


  1. Karen B Chellquist on June 30, 2024 at 6:10 pm

    ‘Proud of the Library Board of Trustees and the town of Holliston.

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