Don’t Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen: Exploring and Celebrating Gender Roleplay in Young Adult Books!

By Rachel F. Thu, June 6, 2019

Welcome to another Pride Month, friends! After this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I’m sure we're all ready to keep the amazing times rolling with more exploration of performative gender with some rollicking young adult novels. Or is that just me? Okay fine, just me. Either way, take off your wig and make up and settle in for some of my favorite titles!

Drag Teen by Jeffrey Self
JT is a gay high school senior determined to get out of Clearwater, Florida, and be the first person in his family to go to college. Even though he cannot figure out how to pay for it, until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition where the first prize is a college scholarship. Guest appearances by an over the top 1970s country and western star, a kindly drag queen who teaches our hero about contouring, and a classic nemesis in the form of another teen drag queen. A clever and heart-filled Wizard of Oz-style journey!
 

 

 

 

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
After a bewildering encounter at her small town's annual summer festival, seventeen-year-old biracial queer Nima plunges into the world of drag, where she has the chance to explore questions of identity, acceptance, self-expression, and love. Finding stories about drag queens is easy – drag kings are harder to come by, but no less fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers
Johnny's had kind of a tough life so far, and he's always been a bit of a freak. His goth look usually includes black nail polish and a little mascara.When he discovers Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, he not only likes her music but realizes that he kind of, sort of, wants to BE her. He'd like to be cool and tough and beautiful like her. He'd like to dress like her. He's not gay, at least he doesn't think so. So what does it mean? And what should he tell his amazing new girlfriend? This wise, hip novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and-white ideas of sexuality and gender. Anyone who has ever wished they could be a little bit tough and a little bit glamorous will recognize themselves in Johnny.

 

 

 

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Teen celebrity socialite Margo leads a double life as a cat burglar with a crew of four kickboxing drag queens. When a big job goes belly-up, each one of them must rely on their special skills to survive the night. Very literally RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Paris Hilton meets Ocean’s Eleven, but with better wardrobes and much higher heels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia, the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! A story full of exploration of friendship, fashion, and France!

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t get enough Drag Kings and Queens? The Free Library of Philadelphia is hosting many upcoming Drag Queen Story Times to celebrate diversity, acceptance, pride, and being true to yourself. Check our Event Calendar for upcoming dates and times! Want even more? The brand new Field Teen Center is hosting an all-ages drag show on Wednesday, June 26!

Did I miss your favorite king or queen? Let me know in the comments!

Brittany Lynn getting ready for another draqg queen storytime at one of our neighborhood libraries!
Brittany Lynn getting ready for another draqg queen storytime at one of our neighborhood libraries!

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