“Drag Queen Story Time.” Depending on your moral valence, that phrase may seem innocuous, interesting or disgusting.
Innocuous or not, the phrase “Drag Queen Story Time” has poured kerosene on the smoldering fires of Lafayette politics.
Louisiana has become so red that even the hip city of Lafayette is conservative now. The city’s Mayor-President Joel Robideaux has been unpopular with Lafayette’s conservatives, some of whom are irked at Robideaux’s CREATE program, which is meant to beef up Lafayette culture to the tune of $500,000. Robideaux has responded to conservative dislike by trying to avoid controversy.
But all of that seems to have changed now. Robideaux is going to bat for social conservatives in a big way by launching a personal crusade against drag queen story-telling.
It all hinges around the “Drag Queen Story Time” program set to take place at the Lafayette library in October. Feeling Robideaux’s heat, the library’s board president resigned. When Robideaux questioned the library’s assistant council clerk, Joseph Gordon-Wiltz, about how the program got funded, Gordon-Wiltz also resigned (even though he’d been appointed by Robideaux).
And Robideaux’s not giving up. He’s asked the library for “any and all correspondence of Board members and Library Staff regarding a Drag Queen Storytime program” and “any and all documentation on files related to Drag Queen Storytime program.”
The conservative group Lafayette Citizens Against Taxes has circulated a petition against the library event. It states: “The use of taxpayer funds to promote sexual deviancy to three-year-olds was and still is shocking.” LCAT may or may not want the assistance it’s getting from West Virginia preacher Rich Penkoski’s Warriors for Christ, which is mounting a campaign against the Lafayette event. Penkonski’s been banned from Facebook; I couldn’t find out why, but will guess that his use of the term “homo-fascism” may have raised a few eyebrows. Penkonski is threatening to sue the Lafayette library. I’m not sure how big a threat that is, given that he’s already suing the West Virginia governor and attorney general and Facebook.
On the flip side, a group called Acadiana Pride is selling yard signs that read #ProudOfMyLibrary for $10 each.
I don’t know quite what to think of this Lafayette library event, other than to feel great surprise that it was ever scheduled. I guess one common sense take would be that since there’s at least one popular mainstream TV show about drag queens, a person could reasonably conclude that drag queens are now part of the mainstream culture.
As for exposing 3-year-olds to this sort of thing, I can guarantee you that at the age of 3, I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea of what it was all about, regardless of how simple the story was. If I thought the drag queen looked pretty, I would have thought — with my 3-year-old mind — “pretty lady.” If I didn’t think the drag queen looked pretty, I would have thought, “I think that lady is really a man. I wonder why that man wants to look like a lady.”
As of this writing, “Drag Queen Story Time” is still scheduled to take place at the Lafayette Public Library on Oct. 6. If your indifference to the matter is not as great as mine, you still have time to follow the story.
Up Front Catch-up
You may have noticed that our 35th anniversary issue was 144 pages long. That’s right. 144 pages. You’re welcome.
When I was doing the work for the anniversary issue, it occurred to me that I’d slacked off a little on a few things that used to be regular features of Up Front. Let me try to make up on that in a small way.
Wagon Rut Update
Boy, it’s been quite a while since we checked in with Wagon Rut — our sister city in Texas’ silver triangle. Things have been better there. Half the population has moved to Westlake or Cameron to get jobs in the boom.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not economic activity in Wagon Rut. Old Boudreaux Thibodeaux’s local fixture, B.T.’s Dutch Pornography and Boudin Shack, has now been refigured as B.T.’s Dutch Pornography and Payday Loans. That sounds like a pretty big operation; but of course, it’s nothing compared to Trey Trey’s Mud Emporium and Mud Pit, which continues to be the economic anchor of the city. In fact, Trey Trey’s collected so much revenue that he’s now expanded with a new business: Trey Trey’s Camo Home Furnishings. There are grumblings about town that Trey Trey’s forming a monopoly.
“English” Billy Boynton continues to be the economic weathervane of Wagon Rut. He got the sheriff’s attention recently when it was discovered that “English” Billy was collecting all the profits from the old man who sells hot cashews behind The Dip Hut without giving the fellow any compensation. Boynton said the old man didn’t want money; he just wanted something to do in his retirement. Of course, the story checked out.
Boynton spends his Saturdays giving seminars on cryptocurrency investment in Nettie Merle’s Head Cheese Sundries. These lectures are phenomenally popular. They’ve been so effective that some Wagon Rutters now know what cryptocurrency is. And at Dupont’s Hubcap Hurling Academy, “English” Billy is making pitches for his new business that promises to “get any immigrant, regardless of lack of papers, criminal background and appearance” into the United States for “one amazingly low fee.” He calls the business Get Mo Without Gitmo. If it were anybody but “English” Billy, I’d think he’d be reported to the INS and given a ticket for the next available flight to Manchester.
So that’s the shape of things in Wagon Rut, where “English” Billy describes the local economy as “the little boom.”
Person In The News
At a recent press conference, Brad Goins stated that he was the only journalist in Louisiana.
“I am the only journalist in Louisiana. For that reason alone, I am the pre-eminent Louisiana journalist; the state journalist with the most flair, insight, oomph, prose style, downright good writin’ and all other good attributes.
“As for the other people in this state who say they’re journalists, I would say they’re just folks who spend their ‘working hours’ cranking out fake news. But if I said that, then I’d be reporting fake news. The truth is, these other so-called journalists simply do not exist.”
Goins then appeared to go into some sort of a fit. Raising his hands, looking up to the ceiling, and trembling in a paroxysm of ecstasy, he intoned, “Now, it’s only me here. I alone. The world rotates around me. No one has ever seen anyone before my eyes.”
There was strong evidence for Goins’ claim in the fact that not one member of the press showed up for what was clearly billed as a press conference. This magazine will report more developments as they occur.
The Times-Picayune’s James Karst has been known to make a funny now and then. He describes himself as “the foremost journalist in this galaxy.” On Sept. 5 — when forecasters told us central Louisiana would be slammed by tropical storm turned hurricane Gordon — Karst Tweeted this: “Day 2 of sheltering in place from #HurricaneGordon … The deluge of sunshine continues unabated.”
It’s tough for a young person to read the trends of the future and choose a career that will be profitable 10 or 20 years down the line. When I set off to college in the 1970s, I should have been studying computer science instead of the super obscure subject of comparative literature. But what did I know?
I found a new book that I think might be of great value to all education-minded youths: The Robots are Coming: A Human’s Survival Guide to Profiting in the Age of Automation by John Pugliano. If you are between the ages of 15 and 20, I suggest you bump this one up to the top of your reading list.
Not All Brains Leave
Not every smart young person leaves Louisiana after high school graduation. But it looks as if youth are most likely to stay if they live in New Orleans.
The famous company The Lending Tree just published its list of the average ages of entrepreneurs in U.S. cities. New Orleans finished No. 3 on the list — meaning that, on average, New Orleans has the third youngest set of first-time entrepreneurs in the U.S.
According to Lending Tree, the average age of an entrepreneur who starts a business in New Orleans is just 37.95 years. The company says that the average age of a first-time entrepreneur ranges between 37 and 42, depending on which city one lives in.
That Settles That
Are you female and worried about the economic, social and cultural gaps between women and men? I’m happy to tell you, you can stop worrying. All that stuff is over now.
I know this because on Sept. 5, Entertainment Weekly Tweeted the headline “The future is female.” The headline referred to the fact that Brie Larson is going to play Captain Marvel in some movie or other.
Well, there you go all you gals, ladies, full-grown girls and members of the gentler and fairer sex. You’ve officially reached absolute equality with the male.
The Advocate reporter who posted the Tweet was mad because it didn’t contain a trailer. Yeah, I absolutely understand where that’s coming from. I know it’s going to be mighty damn hard to see a trailer for this movie.
Too Old To Be Nostalgic
When I saw a Sept. 5 Fox 29 headline that read “Honey Smacks reportedly recalled for links to salmonella,” I immediately thought, “I’m sorry to hear that. My, how things have changed.”
But then I realized that I wasn’t sure what Honey Smacks are. Were they around when I was a kid? Maybe. I really don’t remember.
I still have a pretty clear memory of what Sugar Pops were. The only cereal commercial jingle I can recall from my childhood is “Can’t get enough Super Sugar Crisp.” I remember — I think — that in the commercial, some kind of cartoon animal was always trying to steal the Super Sugar Crisp. But I can no longer remember what kind of animal it was.
Is it possible that at the tender age of 61, I can no longer remember the things of my childhood and therefore am no longer capable of being nostalgic? It seems like kind of a bum deal to feel old and not be able to be nostalgic. And I haven’t even yet experienced the glorious compensation of senior discounts.