GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Nate Bentley is a GVSU graduate known to transform into Ginger Ambrosia to perform around West Michigan; but a scheduled appearance this week may be the most attention-grabbing one yet.
Ginger Ambrosia was asked to one of several featured guest readers during the Grand Rapids Public Library's Read-A-Thon.
The virtual event is raising money all month long for a new mobile library.
"I've done a lot of advocacy work, and tried to volunteer and tried to use my drag to help bring awareness to certain things, and so I think that they knew me from that," Bentley told FOX 17 News. "I definitely try to advocate for having different queer stories in places where there aren't a lot of queer people represented all the time."
Bentley, who has performed in drag for seven years, was surprised to see some negative reaction to the event.
"I didn't think it would be as much as a reaction as it was... concerned comments from people in the community about conflating drag, I would say conflating drag and sex work," Bentley said. "They think it's something that it's not."
Bentley added, "Folks that were concerned about having a drag queen around children, which is kind of funny because it's virtual, there are no real children involved... I think it's just because people don't understand what a drag queen is and it's off-putting at first, maybe because they just don't know what's going on."
Library Director John McNaughton said the response from regular patrons has been largely positive.
"Equity, diversity and inclusion work is a core value of Grand Rapids Public Library," McNaughton explained. "The library is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, so we wanted to include someone that illustrated that acceptance. And it's really important to us to make sure that people of all walks of life feel like they're welcome in our doors."
Ginger Ambrosia will be sharing a children's book --personally selected by Bentley--- called "Red: A Crayon's Story" by Michael Hall.
"It follows a crayon who is kind of born in the wrong wrapper," Bentley explained. "It's kind of a story of self acceptance and being OK with yourself, which I feel all children should feel and all parents would want their kids to feel that same way."
To learn more about the Read-A-Thon, or to donate, click here.