One Million Moms Takes Aim at Whole Foods for Drag Time Story Hour

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday August 2, 2019

One Million Moms Takes Aim at Whole Foods for Drag Time Story Hour

Professional pearl-clutchers One Million Moms have resurfaced with a whole new slew of fact-free claims that demonstrate the depth of their biases. The reason this time? Whole Foods sponsored a Drag Time Story Hour in Atlanta. (They also recently sponsored a Drag Bingo in Washington, D.C., which One Million Moms seemingly dropped the ball on.)

Drag Time story hours are hosted across the nation in public spaces such as libraries and involve nothing more dangerous than drag performers reading stories to children. For many, the story hours are about as child-unfriendly as a clown at a birthday party — perhaps less so, given that many children fear clowns, whereas kids don't seem to respond to drag performers with instinctual terror (unlike many conservatives). In any case, the tie between Drag Time Story Hour in Atlanta in Whole Foods was evidently limited to sponsorship; the event occurred at city hall, with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, personally hosting the proceedings.

Drag itself — a time-honored theatrical tradition — has achieved mainstream success with television shows like the long-running reality series "RuPaul's Drag Race," which has done much to demystify drag. Most people have come to know the difference between a drag performer and a menace to society and good order. Then again, most people know the difference between facts and unhinged propaganda.

Such distinctions were seemingly lost on One Million Moms, which went on one of its signature anti-LGBTQ jags, insinuating that the story hours are part of a massive plot to "indoctrinate children into transgenderism and homosexuality" — and, evidently, missing the part about entertainment in a torrid vortex of confusion around innate personal characteristics like sexual orientation and sexual identity versus elaborate performative modes like, well, drag performances. After all, one can choose to learn the art of drag, but one cannot "choose" to be gay, straight, or trans.

Such reasoned considerations seemed not to be a concern for the group, which, as a media watchdog for the virulently anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, makes its name by calling for boycotts any time the specter of gay families or anything smacking of gay culture raises its head. In the process, One Million Moms often risks undercutting its own messages with what can only be assumed to be unintended comedic flailings. One recent target of the group was Cottenelle brand toilet paper, which aired an ad earlier this year that featured a gay couple. (Gays using toilet paper! Run for the hills.)

The group went into similar conniptions when Parents magazine featured a gay married couple and their children on the cover of its February 2019 issue. (Because, of course, loving same-sex parents who take good care of their kids are... such a threat to...society...?)

The punch line in the Whole Foods fracas is the same old, same old for the group: They called for a boycott. Just as unsurprising was the double-barrel cavalcade of nonsense the group unleashed, a word salad of tired tropes. Declaring that drag queens were "grooming" children (though for what they didn't bother to say), text at the One Million Moms website blared: "Whole Foods Market is now sponsoring a Drag Queen Story Hour event to indoctrinate children into transgenderism and homosexuality." The group went on proclaim breathlessly that, "Their goal is to normalize the LGBTQ lifestyle."

Leaving aside questions of what, exactly, constitutes an "LGBTQ lifestyle" — and offering no clue as to just how those two statements connect with one another - the group's vertiginous rhetoric seems to have overlooked the impossibility of "indoctrinating" anyone into a sexuality or gender identity that is not inborn and natural to them. (Were it not impossible, after all, the cis-centric and heteronormative environment in which American children marinate from birth would ensure perfect uniformity of orientation and gender identity. Obviously, that is far from the case.)

Calling the Amazon-owned Whole Foods "A retailer that once promoted organics and clean food," One Million Moms dug deep for outrage, accusing the company of being "saturated in absolute filth" and "exploiting America's children" - though, once again, exactly what manner of "exploitation" the company was supposed to be guilty of was not addressed.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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