"Do we want bigoted meatheads deciding what's normal?"

New columnist, Linnea Wikman, believes that when "let children be children" becomes a weapon against inclusion, we all need to pay attention.

Story time with "Bland drakar och dragqueens".

Story time with "Bland drakar och dragqueens".

Foto: Jens Worning

Engelska2024-03-03 08:00

Skellefteå Pride just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and those adorable drag queens are back reading stories at the library. It warms my heart. Every session is fully booked, with kids and parents clamoring for more. 

The theater group "Bland drakar och drag queens" aims to tackle several challenges facing young people, including declining literacy rates, bullying, exclusion, and mental health issues. 

They pioneered the concept of drag queen storytellers in Sweden and have become the largest drag show theater group in the Nordic region, performing over 150 shows annually for children, youth, and adults.

Yet, for some reason, there are intolerant men determined to stuff the sparkle back in the box.

It's no secret who these bigots are: it's supporters of the Sweden Democrats. They can't stand the thought of kids exposed to anything beyond rigid gender roles. 

It doesn't matter that "Bland drakar och dragqueens" wants to boost reading, fight bullying, and make kids feel included. Drag queens equal badness in their books. They rant about children being children and protecting innocence but don't seem to care about the hate they whip up.

They've tried to cancel these events in Kalmar and Trelleborg. Their politicians call parents irresponsible for taking their kids. It plants seeds of doubt and fear with parents, and that's the whole point. 

Restrict rights slowly, quietly, while claiming the high moral ground. It's a classic tactic, but don't be fooled. This is about erasing LGBTQI+ people from public spaces, squashing knowledge, and defying Sweden's library laws.

Organizers and participants in these events have faced a far-right backlash, including death threats. Disturbingly, this year, a storytelling session with "Bland drakar och dragqueens" was violently disrupted by far-right extremists. The theater group has endured years of targeted harassment from these groups.

But, lucky for us, Skellefteå isn't backing down. Because kids deserve to be kids. To have fun at the library, learn about the world, and grow up seeing that you don't have to fit into a tiny, boring box. Drag queens reading fairytales won't endanger that, but bigots with power might.

It might seem like a strange hill to die on, but when "let children be children" becomes a weapon against inclusion, we all need to pay attention. It's about democracy, about the kind of country we want our kids to inherit. 

One with dazzling drag queens sharing stories, or one where a few meatheads get to decide what's "normal"?