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Drag Queen Story Hour: ‘we’re not just for June’

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

20 June 2022

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Sab Samuel is the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour UK and performs across the country as drag queen and storyteller, Aida H Dee. To mark Pride Month 2022, we’re amplifying stories from our LGBTQ+ customers. Here’s Sab’s story of running this creative show for children.

What's your small business story?

Drag Queen Story Hour UK was first created from a need to prevent LGBTQ+ hatred. Five years ago, Aida H Dee The Storytime Drag Queen first read stories to children in a nursery, making them the first to do so in Europe. Now Aida performs across the whole of the country reading stories about all types of people.

How did you become a business owner, and how’s it going?

I took a leap of faith. I had the opportunity of a regular self-employed gig, and although it wasn't much, it paved the way to the career and business I now run. I’m now an award-winning business, recognised and talked about across news platforms and social media.

Do you face any challenges as an LGBTQ+ business owner?

Yes absolutely. As a gay man, who reads stories to children, I’m week after week accused of having a more insidious agenda. I’ve had to take precautions to hide my identity. I‘ve even gone as far as to have three separate numbers, where these numbers don’t allow withheld call IDs.

How can non-LGBTQ+ people in your industry be better allies?

If you hire an LGBTQ+ company, but then attempt to control how the LGBTQ+ company is run to prevent the backlash of hiring that company in the first place, then don't bother.

I’ve been hired many times, but then asked to change what we provide, which would remove the LGBTQ+ nature of who we are.

Do you have any advice for them?

Pride is not just for June, so don't consider working with us just in June. We’re asked to do a lot in June, so if we are not available, why not plan for the winter? We put on a fabulous festive package.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

It means it's been another year of fighting to have rights. Yes, we’re now in a world where we get to celebrate how far we’ve come, and I love that, but in essence Pride is a protest.

People like to ask why there’s no ‘straight pride’, but to that I say: "Pride was born out of a need to fight for rights, not to celebrate who we are, so instead of wondering why there are no straight prides just be thankful you don't need one."

Why is it important for there to be LGBTQ+ owned businesses in your sector?

You don't need to be LGBTQ to support LGBTQ.

If I speak to another business owner who is LGBTQ, then there’s a massive chance that person and I will have more in common. However, other than having things in common, and maybe puting LGBTQ people within their business plan, I don't see why a hetero-cis person can't do the exact business I’m doing. All it takes it a little research and the drive to do something queer.

Do you have any advice for other LGBTQ+ people thinking about setting up their own business?

Unemployment among young LGBTQ+ is not the best. I think it comes down to inner-homophobia and how a business might be scared of what an LGBTQ person may bring to their workforce.

The National LGBT Survey in 2018 indicated that 80 per cent of respondents aged 16 to 64 had been in employment at some point in the 12 months preceding the survey. Trans people were less likely to have had a paid job in the 12 months preceding the survey (65 per cent of trans women and 57 per cent of trans men had one).

So to all the LGBTQ+ young people I’d say: “If you have an idea, and if you want to make it into a career, then go for it. The world seems like it’s against you, and you have most definitely been taught that as an LGBTQ+ person you are somehow "lesser", but this isn’t the case.

“LGBTQ+ people are strong, creative, and understand concepts of one's own self more than their hetero-cis counter parts, on average. Take the leap of faith, and never let anyone tell you to stop.”

Keep an eye out for more Pride Month stories, and remember to support LGBTQ+ small businesses – this month and every month of the year.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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