“We’ve planned for 150 people but we’ll take everyone we can,” she says.

While every story time is different, each event has one thing in common: inquisitive children whose curiosity extends to touching Conda’s wig and feeling her eyelashes.

Conda is used to being bombarded with questions.

Conda is used to being bombarded with questions. Credit:Janie Barrett

“When they look at us it keeps their minds active because there’s so much to look at and take in,” she says.

Once they settle down, the children are treated to a story book – often about a diverse family – followed by dress ups, colouring-in, a singalong and some fruit.

“By that time everyone’s pretty pooped, including me. I’m probably the first one to go,” Conda quips.


She loves working with children because “they take you for face value”.

“There’s never been a question they’ve asked that I’ve been uncomfortable with.

“You learn that behaviours adults have are learned; like intolerance and homophobia and transphobia and bigotry. Kids take you at face value and are kind and loving.”

Conda said she was devastated by the events at a drag queen story-time in a Brisbane library in January, where a group of protesters staged and filmed a dramatic disruption of the family event. Within days controversy turned to tragedy when one of the protesters, Wilson Gavin, took his life.

“It was just a heart-breaking story all around,” Conda says.

“I just felt for the drag hosts and the families and kids there – that’s frightening. They’ve come thinking it would be a safe space … and it’s violated by this experience.”

But Conda also felt sympathy for Gavin who she believed was “unfortunately used as a mouthpiece for the group”.

“I think he had intentions of doing a good thing but the way he went about it was all wrong.”

Conda is critical of a bill introduced to Federal Parliament last week by One Nation senator Pauline Hanson that seeks to prohibit “indoctrination of children” in schools.


Among other things, the bill seeks to ban “controversial sexual programs that teach gender fluidity”.

Conda says Senator Hanson’s views are out of touch with the world.

“Gender fluidity has been around for probably hundreds of years, it’s just now as a human race we’re starting to be OK with that and talk about it,” she says.

“Not every child is going to be gender diverse but for the one that is, it’s important they know they are supported.”

If you, or anyone you know, needs mental health support, please call a helpline such as Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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