Chicago area library cancels Drag Queen bingo for teens after threats

A Chicago area library said he was forced to cancel an upcoming teenage drag queen bingo due to threats about the event.

The Downers Grove Public Library announced its decision Monday in a statement on Facebook, but assured the public that “hate did not win today” and that it is working to find other ways to offer inclusive programs to local teens as law enforcement investigates threats.

“Providing an inclusive, welcoming and safe space for all members of the Downers Grove community is of the utmost importance to the library,” he said. “We are disappointed and saddened by some of the vitriolic comments we have received for what was to be an evening of fun and celebration of identity and self-expression.”

The library declined to comment further on the matter due to the ongoing investigation.

Library staff received aggressive emails and threats from conservative residents after announcing the drag queen event last month, the Chicago Tribune reported. A Facebook post urged people to “bring guns” to the library, the Daily Herald reported, citing police reports.

The Oct. 11 event, which had a waitlist due to its popularity, was aimed at students in grades seven through 12 and was going to feature bingo games and a lip-sync performance of the song “Firework.” by Katy Perry, the library director told the Herald. .

The event, however, was quickly met with anger.

Drag performer Champagne Monroe reads a children’s book titled “Rainbow Fish” to a group of children and parents at the Mobile Public Library in Mobile, Alabama in 2018.

The far-right organization Awake Illinois issued a “call to action” in response to the event. Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who is also the Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 6th District, helped lead criticism of the event, which he used as a fundraiser on social networks.

“It’s a drag show, and it doesn’t belong in seventh grade or senior year,” he said in a radio interview last month.

Pekau said he had never seen a drag show, but knew enough to decide it was inappropriate.

“It’s an adult theme. It doesn’t belong to children and frankly shouldn’t be paid for by the public library,” he said.

It was later reported that an anonymous donor would cover the $125 cost of the event.

drag queen "Pickle" reads to children at the West Valley Regional Branch Library in Los Angeles in 2019.
Drag queen “Pickle” reads to children at the West Valley Regional Branch Library in Los Angeles in 2019.

David McNew via Getty Images

Rep. Sean Casten (D), who is running against Pekau to retain his seat in the November general election, blamed Pekau and Awake Illinois for threats of violence against the library.

“They should be ashamed of themselves. They used their platform to promote hate, homophobia and bigotry,” he said. said in a press release Monday. “Hate has no place here. The fact that Keith Pekau disagrees shows he has no place in public service.

Pekau did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Awake Illinois celebrated the cancellation of the event on social media, calling it “a victory for protecting all children.”

“Your respectful voices have been heard. Children should never be exploited. Thank you for defending”, the the organization tweeted.

A parent walks their child past protesters and into the mobile public library for a drag queen story in 2018.
A parent walks their child past protesters and into the mobile public library for a drag queen story in 2018.

Drag and other child-friendly pro-LGBTQ events have been halted across the country in recent months, particularly during Pride Month in June.

A group of men were being investigated for a possible hate crime in the San Francisco area after the men allegedly shouted homophobic and anti-LGBTQ slurs during a drag queen story hour for preschoolers organized in celebration of pride month.

Law enforcement officers were called to a library in Wilmington, North Carolina, also in June, after protesters showed up at a Pride story time event and allegedly began shouting at people. parents and children, telling them they were going to hell, witnesses told local media.

Jamie Rogers Southern, whose drag queen storytime in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was also the subject of protests in June, said most people who called his organization to complain were very confused about drag shows.

“A lot of it is unfortunately misinformed and misinformed statements about how drag queens were pornography or a strip show,” she previously told HuffPost. Opponents of the program also believed children could “become” transgender just by watching a drag queen, she said.


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