It’s a situation too bizarre for parody even through the satirical lens of Portlandia’s Fred and Carrie.
Saint John's Library in the city of Portland hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour that wound up immeasurably worse than the initial concept. Photographs posted to the library's Flickr account disturbingly depict young children at the Oct. 2018 event lying on top of and physically frolicking with a man garishly impersonating a woman.
Multiple news outlets have reported that, after backlash, the library has since deleted the photographs that display a man calling himself "Carla Rossi" supine on the library floor as children lie on top of him either clutching his fake breasts or face buried between them. Library staff had previously defended the photographs as harmless.
The pictures prompted Kaeley Triller Harms to note on Facebook, "I wouldn't let my kids crawl on top of random strangers no matter how said strangers are dressed."
Harms continued, "Even as a day camp counselor 15 years ago, we were pretty carefully trained about not giving kids piggyback rides or letting them sit on our laps. And if they asked for hugs, we took the side hug approach."
According to LifeSiteNews, the Multnomah County Library system, of which St. John's Library is a member, has a long history of hosting such disturbing activities.
Not only has the Rossi character appeared on numerous occasions but as well the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of men dressed as nuns "for the purpose of mocking the Catholic Church."
The Multnomah County Library system website posts upcoming events featuring Rossi and the sacrilegious nun impersonators.
The Blaze contacted the library for comment on the photos and received a response from Jeremy Graybill, marketing and online engagement director, which reads in part, "We continually review existing policies to ensure that performers meet expectations to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all."
It adds, "The library will reflect on the feedback that members of the community have offered. We will consider the views and concerns expressed and work to ensure that Multnomah County Library holds itself to consistently high standards."
A trenchant analysis of this specific episode of the recent Drag Queen Story Hour phenomenon was written by the Federalist's Libby Emmons:
Makeup tutorials, photos of kids laying atop grown men who are wearing sexualized female costumes, and encouraging gender fluidity gives truth to the lie that drag story hour isn’t about sexuality or sexualizing children. Children are drawn to sparkles and glitter, and using those things to make sexuality seem like mere play is nothing more than grooming kids to be sexual objects, not participants. ...
[S]ex play for kids opens the door to predatory behavior by adults and much confusion for kids. Sexuality is not glitter and rainbows, it’s not about unicorns, puppets, and makeup tutorials. It is serious, and children are too young to understand how serious.
When sexuality becomes sold to children as dress up, it glosses over the seriousness of the topic, the social, emotional, psychological, and physical consequences, putting kids at risk. Kids don’t have to be taught shame for their bodies or their sexual feelings, but there’s no reason to teach them that these things are the forefront of who they are….
The moms who are speaking up around the country against drag story hour and the sexualizing of children in a queer context are being shouted down by men in dresses and librarians, and being told that sexuality is about rainbows and unicorns, not about real bodies, emotions, and responsibility. Moms know better, and they know how to use their words.
Sexuality is about sex. Children's sexuality isn't about makeup tutorials, and their bodies are not inclusive. Children need to know not about sexuality first, but about sex first, their rights, their privacy, and their responsibility to protect themselves from predators. That's why the library took down the photos: men in dresses cavorting intimately with children is very obviously pedophilia in action, and it’s a horror that it’s being presented as education.