ROCKTON – The Talcott Free Library in this Northern Illinois town announced Monday that a planned drag Q&A on July 14 would be moved online.
In a Facebook post, the library said it was moving the event online for safety after talking with the Rockton police and fire departments.
“Safety of everyone is our first priority,” the post reads. “After talking with the police/fire departments this past week in multiple discussions of the huge number of people on both sides planning to attend, we have determined an in-person event will not be safe for our patrons or presenter at this time.”
The event, which features Illinois performer Krystal Ball, has become a lightning rod in the small town just north of Rockford. A library board meeting on whether to allow it to take place saw more than 500 people attend with supporters and opponents facing each other outside.
“I want to say that while this change is really saddening for everyone, I believe this is the best choice to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” Ball said when contacted by the Eagle. “We hope the event is as enjoyable and interactive as possible considering the circumstances. Thank you to everyone for the support and we hope to see everyone for the livestream event on the 14th.”
She said was contacted last week about the possibility of the Q&A being moved online, but heard about the decision today with the announcement.
“I said that whatever they felt was the right decision I would support as well,” Ball said.
Rockford Family Initiative, one of the loudest voices against the drag Q&A, said on their own Facebook page that they were happy the library “cancelled” the in-person event, but are still planning a protest at the library on July 14.
Rockton Pride, which organized after the meeting to support the event, disagreed with the decision. Their statement:
As Rockton Pride, we do not feel the Talcott Free Library made the correct decision to move the July 14th Drag Q and A to a virtual platform. We have continually supported and applauded the library for its willingness to hold this event, and we will continue to do so. However, we are saddened and apprehensive about this recent change. First and foremost, making this event virtual is sending a message, that the library and the police are not willing enough to make an attempt to protect the LGBTQ+ and drag communities. The attention that this event has brought has made it very clear, that there are LGBTQ+ and drag community members in Rockton, who are fighting for their representation and this does not achieve that. Secondly, a virtual platform for the event will put attendees in more danger, than the originally planned venue, for multiple reasons. Online platforms have heavily researched risks, such as hacking and doxing that can be used to obtain people’s private information. This is concerning alongside the clear safety risks for those planning to be at the library in-person to support on the 14th. Overall, this decision changes nothing in regard to our plans moving forward. As of now, the supporters of this Drag Q and A event (Rockton Pride, the LGBTQ+ community, and its allies) will be there at the Talcott Library on July 14th. We will prioritize the safety of event attendees, both in-person and virtually on July 14th. Regardless of the hatred we receive, we will continue to stand against those who attempt to silence us. See you there.Rockton Pride
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