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Engaging Community and Promoting Diversity

September 22, 2017

Reading stories to children is amazing. Reading stories that depict diversity of families, ethnicities, gender identities and expressions is even more amazing. And when you have two drag performance artists reading such stories in an inclusive and affirming space, it takes amazing to a whole new level!

That is why The 519 – in collaboration with other partners– hosts Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime: Reading is FUNdamental as a monthly series. Both Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé share a strong love for fun, learning, and community building. Their storytime sessions, which alternate between The 519 and a community partner venue, are free community events, open for all families. 

Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime: Reading is FUNdamental has come to The 519 a number of times since November 2016, and attracts many people from the neighbourhood, with a diverse representation of families. The storytime has also inspired other artists and performers to connect with us, share ideas, and show interest in volunteering their time for reading their favourite books.

With her big orange hair, large-print backless dress, perfectly made-up eyes, and a bushy beard – Fay Slift’s presence surprises children at first, and overwhelms them next – until they are completely immersed in the entertaining and interactive rendition of carefully chosen books.

A full-time Kindergarten teacher and a drag performer, Fay embarked on this journey with Fluffy to offer gender-diverse families an affirming, respectful space, and a joyous learning experience. 

“I have been performing drag for 10 years, living in this neighbourhood for 13, and teaching kindergarten for 20. I just want to give back to the neighbourhood, and offer my talents to spread joy, diversity, and acceptance. And what better way to do it then engaging and educating children.”

The 519 plans to continue hosting Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime with help from our donors and supporters. 

“For me The 519 is an ideal home for Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime. How the centre is working to support members of the community is inspiring, and I am a big supporter myself. So please support The 519 for Fay & Fluffy. Donate, in kind (books) or otherwise, and come out to join us.”

The summer sessions were hosted by The 519 in collaboration with Glad Day Bookshop, and more recently the fall sessions have been introduced in partnership with Gladstone Hotel.