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‘So Excited’: Emails Show Local Librarians Recruiting Drag Performers For Kids

Public records The Federalist obtained show librarians seeking to host gender-bending performances and market them to children in Republican-leaning suburbs.

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Emails from librarians who brought cross-dressing performers to Republican-leaning Saint Louis suburbs this summer illustrate how easy it is for a few public employees to hijack tax-funded resources to promote sexual behaviors to children.

Emails obtained by The Federalist show just a few local librarians in Collinsville and Glen Carbon, Illinois, working with other librarians to use their public positions to promote personal causes. The Collinsville and Glen Carbon Centennial public libraries this summer featured “drag queen storytime” events on June 3, 7, and 21 to promote homosexual “Pride Month.”

National surveys show the profession is overwhelmingly white and female — 87 and 81 percent, respectively, in a 2014 American Library Association (ALA) survey. That’s the same demographic becoming Democrats’ most significant voting bloc and often the most likely to push identity politics, often for personal psychological reasons.

While the ALA recently urged librarians whose communities don’t want public institutions to push sexual information on kids to “sneak” LGBT materials in, these librarians wanted to go further. They wanted more than a Pride Month display that merely puts sex books at toddlers’ eye level. They wanted drag shows for kids.

Librarians All-In for Exposing Kids

The obtained emails indicate professional librarians’ networks enthusiastically assisted with creating and promoting these events. February 2022 emails The Federalist obtained through an open-records request in June show Glen Carbon youth librarian Aimee Villet asking Saint Louis librarians to recommend drag performers to hire: “[W]ould love to offer a Drag Queen storytime at our library,” Villet wrote.

The emails show Villet also wrote seeking drag performer names from Library Director Ashley Stewart in nearby Caseyville, Illinois, which featured a drag performance last year.

The response Stewart sent back wasn’t shown in the records returned, but a follow-up from Villet was. It shows the librarians expected negative feedback from local taxpayers but wouldn’t allow it to affect their plans.

“LGBTQIA+ programming for kids always leads to complaints,” Villet acknowledged. But, as she and Collinsville children’s librarian Sam Camero agreed in other emails, they were “prepared for hard conversations,” as Villet put it to Camero on May 18.

Villet ultimately obtained a link to drag performer Maxi Glamour’s contact page from Saint Louis Public Library Youth Services Manager Joe Monahan, the emails show. The performer’s IMDB page says he also goes by Max Wright. Villet booked Wright for two events in the Glen Carbon Centennial Library this summer — one for children and one for adults only.

“We want to do something special this year [for Pride Month] beyond our usual displays and passive programs,” Villet told Wright.

Glen Carbon Library Director Christine Gerrish told The Federalist the library paid Wright $300 for the two events.

‘So Excited’

The emails show multiple librarians expressing enthusiasm and anticipation for Wright’s drag performance.

“I was so excited when Aimee brought up the idea to have you come to our library,” Glen Carbon librarian Betsye Stinson wrote on March 8 to the drag performer. She suggested that his adults-only event at the Glen Carbon library promote activist causes by sharing “more about the history of Drag in STL [Saint Louis], hearing about your personal interest, and providing insight on how to be a better ally and how to support and uplift marginalized QTPOC members in our community.”

The like-minded librarians eagerly plotted their 2022 LGBT programming and especially the drag storytime together, according to the emails. Librarians from different towns eagerly offered to help promote each others’ LGBT events and offered emotional as well as strategic support for the community backlash they all expected.

The librarians also coordinated on responding to community objections to the events once they were announced, the emails show. The executive director of Collinsville’s public libraries, Kyla Waltermire, reached out to nearby Glen Carbon Library Director Christine Gerrish after local Republican politician Kurt Prenzler objected to their drag events on his email list. They decided not to publicly respond.

Drag Spreads One Suburb Over

In Collinsville, Waltermire started preparing for her library’s separate summer drag performance in February, the emails show. Waltermire uses the salutation “Mx” and specifies the pronouns “she/her” in her email signature. Collinsville is another Republican-leaning suburb of Saint Louis.

On Valentine’s Day, Waltermire also emailed Caseyville library director Stewart. In 2021, Caseyville featured a drag storytime for kids by a cross-dresser with the stage name Chasity Valentino. In the emails, the two discuss how to “coordinate” and “cross promote” the drag programming.

“I’d like to pick your brain about what you learned from Caseyville’s experience – what to plan for, how to respond to critics, etc,” Waltermire wrote Stewart.

Some of the Caseyville librarians “are members of the LGBTQ+ community and they would love to help in ANY way with flyers, materials, book recommendations, resources, community partners, etc.,” Stewart wrote Gerrish. “…As a director, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you begin to receive negative feedback and would like some assistance and go-to responses.”

Thanks to the recommendations from Caseyville’s Stewart, Collinsville also featured Valentino. Valentino was initially scheduled for an in-person performance in Collinsville but ultimately decided to read virtually, alleging concerns about safety once his performance became known in the local community.

More Public Employees Help Out

The emails also show how LGBT clubs in local public schools function as political outposts to help recruit volunteers and audience members for sexually charged events such as drag storytime.

On May 6, Waltermire wrote special education teacher Cathy Kulupka, the gay-straight club sponsor at Collinsville High School, to say, “Based on how a similar event at the Caseyville Public Library was received last year, we are anticipating protesters” at their June 3 drag show. “Would the GSA be able to support this program by attending the storytime and/or by assisting at the library’s entrances to welcome and direct families to the storytime?”

Kulupka wrote back less than an hour later, “Absolutely!”

“Let me talk to my students more and see, but I have mentioned it and they are down…I will prep them on how to behave and to not react to protesters…we can meet and discuss details further. Sidenote: I am super excited about this!” Kulupka wrote Waltermire on May 9 after further back and forth.

Camero, whose work email signature tells people to use plural, third-person pronouns for her as well as the gender-queer salutation “Mx,” promoted Collinsville’s drag storytime to multiple organizations and contacts. In one email, Camero refers to the event as “my Drag Queen Story Time program” and comments that she is “really excited, and I want to get the word out!”

Another email from Camero to a librarian about a half hour away at Hayner Public Library in Alton, Illinois, invites the fellow librarian to the event as a personal matter.

“I hope they’ll be able to get enough info and will see the support and be able to convince their director to let them try a DQST too,” Camero writes in another email redacted so as to obscure what other librarians she appears to be encouraging to host more drag performances.

Camero also emailed local LGBT organizations to recruit attendees, enabling the librarians to tell library trustees and others including The Federalist that there was a high interest in the program as measured by very strong attendance compared to other library programs. The emails show she reached out both to the Metro Trans Umbrella Group of Saint Louis, which partners with abortion industry giant Planned Parenthood to distribute disability-producing opposite-sex hormones, and the Southwest Illinois chapter of TransParentUSA to ask their members to come to Collinsville’s library drag performance. Both organizations are located outside Collinsville.

While a number of the public employees involved appear to have personal motivations for pushing these performances, they are a divisive issue even among people who support LGBT behaviors. Prenzler told The Federalist that his friend, a gay man who married his partner two years ago, signed a local referendum that successfully put the drag shows onto November’s ballots in Glen Carbon: “His point was, this is not for kids and it brings shame on the gay community.”

Two lesbians joined several other locals this summer in going door to door to collect signatures to put the referendum on ballots, Prenzler, chairman of surrounding Madison County, also said: “Both of them thought this was outrageous, it was inappropriate.” While collecting some 200 signatures for the initiative, Prenzler said he noticed that the majority of those who answered their doors had not heard about the local drag events even though they were extremely controversial locally.

Emails Show Multiple Complaints from Locals

The Federalist asked for all Glen Carbon library records containing the terms “Maxi Glamour,” “Max Wright,” “drag queen,” “and/or the dates ‘June 7’ and ‘June 21’ over the last six months; and any other reasonably available library records from the last six months that contain the terms ‘Maxi Glamour’ and/or ‘Max Wright.’” Gerrish, Glen Carbon’s library director, is responsible for collecting and disclosing the records requested by the public about her own and her staff’s activities.

It appears from the records that she allowed library staff to select the records disclosed from their work email accounts in response to the requested open-records search. This setup effectively allows public employees to oversee legally mandated disclosures of their own activities, a clear conflict of interest.

A Federalist review of the records Gerrish returned also shows both multiple complaints and positive notes about the drag show from locals. Some complaints include pictures of Wright’s social media pages where he displays a sex toy, nudity, and illicit drug use as well as making profane comments about Christianity.

“Unfortunately, after researching this person further, I discovered there is also a video on Maxi Glamour’s social media of Maxi bathing while completely nude with genitalia exposed. This post was from January 2022,” wrote one alarmed community member to Villet in May.

When The Federalist asked Gerrish what her line would be for deciding whether specific content was too risqué for sponsoring with public resources, she responded, “Personally I generally go by PG-13 and milder. This performer is providing that tomorrow night and much milder for the children.”

Trustees Refuse to Stop Drag Shows for Kids

The emails also show members of both libraries’ boards of trustees discussing community reactions to the event. In Collinsville, Waltermire sent trustees a list of talking points about the event in response to community backlash.

An email from Collinsville library board Vice President Laura Gottschalk to Waltermire includes screenshots from the Collinsville mayor’s wife, Diane Miller, expressing concerns about the drag show: “I cannot fathom you would have voted to allow this,” Miller texts Gottschalk. Later in the conversation, Miller appears to relent a bit, texting Gottschalk, “I agree. Parents should decide on this.”

Glen Carbon Board Vice President Marcella Starck and Trustee Kevin Tellor forwarded to Gerrish both positive and negative emails they received from local residents, and Gerrish did the same with the entire board, at their request.

The emails also show the trustees were aware before the program occurred of the drag performer’s public pornographic materials available to anyone who searched for his stage name. Tellor forwarded to Gerrish the below email that included explicit photos backing up the community member’s claims.

Regardless of this foreknowledge, the Glen Carbon Centennial Library trustees did not step in to stop the in-person drag programs. The Collinsville trustees also allowed the drag performer to read to children from their library’s online platform and be promoted under their library’s name all over town and the Saint Louis suburbs.

Two of Glen Carbon’s seven library trustees are up for re-election in April 2023. Four of the seven Collinsville library trustees are also.


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