UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills announced this week that they were cancelling their planned drag event because of the recent DHS alert.
The bakery has been at the target of protests since the summer when a planned drag brunch was canceled after the business’s windows were shattered. It was eventually rescheduled, but protesters and counterprotesters have been facing off in the parking lot ever since.
Even with the protests, events have continued and the business has stayed open.
Then came the domestic terrorism alert from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week. In the warning, DHS said that targets included public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents. The alert came just a couple of weeks after the Club Q shooting.
In the light of the warning and after discussions with the drag performers, Corrina Bendel Sac said in a Facebook post that the event, Slay Belles: A Holiday Drag Spectacular, was canceled.
“This decision comes after days of discussion with our cherished drag performers and in observation of the growing threats of violence and targeted protests against drag performances,” she said. We love our drag community and their performances, however, we all agree that there is no performance worth a human’s life. I want to be abundantly clear that we are not backing down or giving in to the hatred. We are heeding the warning of Dept. of Homeland Security and prioritizing the safety of our customers, performers, staff, family, neighbors, and community.”
Tickets have been refunded.
To help make up for the loss in income and show solidarity, UpRising will be holding be hosting a Pride Party this Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are plans for a DJ, give-aways and livestreams. Options will be given so people can contribute to the performers preferred cash apps.
LGBTQ events across the country have been having to balance safety and holding the events. Many in the community have blamed the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from right-wing media figures and organizations such as Awake Illinois and Moms For Liberty. In recent weeks, a drag queen story hour in Ohio was canceled when security could not be confirmed. Another protest against a drag event in Aurora was headed off after overwhelming community response.
“Make no mistake this is a coordinated attack by local domestic terrorists banding together, and with repeated threats of violence forcing businesses and entertainers to lose their source of income,” said Paula Merrington, an organizer with Parasol Patrol: Fox Valey. “I do not blame entertainers and business owners for doing this, but really hate that this is where we find ourselves.”
Parasol Patrol puts up a barrier between protesters and LGBTQ events. By using brightly colored umbrellas to block protesters from view, event attendees don’t have to see some of the anti-queer rhetoric.