A Chicago bakery’s planned drag show and brunch is at the center of controversy this week after the shop’s owner reported receiving a barrage of hateful threats and police prepared for planned protests of the event.
Worried staffers at UpRising Bakery & Café in Lake in the Hills met with police Wednesday night.
“This is a family-friendly environment and when we opened I vowed to always make it family friendly,” the cafe’s owner, Corinna Sac, told NBC Chicago.
“The intent was to take a fun event like a drag show and make it family-friendly,” she said. What she didn’t expect was the hate-filled reactions she would receive on social media, with many upset at the decision to allow children at the event slated to be held this weekend.
Last Thursday, the bakery’s Facebook page posted it had received 121 “new hateful comments and fake negative reviews.”
“This is 7 days to relentless harassment and it is ridiculous and exhausting,” the post read. “This has got to stop. Our community as a whole should be further along than this. There is no space on this planet for this kind of hatred and negativity. STOP IT, MOVE ON!”
Sac said it has been “nonstop harassment” ever since.
“We’ve had people come in and do stuff here. The police have been heavily involved here since the beginning,” she said.
Just days after Sac posted about the event, she said someone walked in and spit on the cafe’s display case, another left a bag of feces outside the door and someone posted a letter on the business that read “pedophiles work here.”
She even had someone report her to the Department of Children and Family Services.
“I was scared this was going to ruin the business me and my husband have put everything into,” she said. “This business, this is my everything besides my children.”
Lake in the Hills police told NBC that they began receiving reports from “concerned residents” who saw an advertisement about children being allowed to attend the event. The police department investigated and said “no violations were found” and “no nudity or sexually explicit content is reported to be a part of the scheduled performance.”
The controversy has now led to what authorities say are planned protests, both against and in favor of the bakery’s event.
“The safety and Constitutional rights of everyone who may choose to participate is the priority of the police department,” the department stated. “We are taking measures to ensure that everyone has the right to engage in peaceful protest. However, we wish to remind everyone that under no circumstances will the police department tolerate a disruption of this event or any activity that disrupts the peace.”
“It’s disrupted the community here,” she said. “Never did I think in 2022 in a place where I believed was pretty progressive is showing us with what we are still living with here every day.”
Despite the harassment and planned protests, Sac said the event will go on as planned this weekend. The bakery has installed cameras on the property and roving patrols are monitoring the business at least once an hour.
“I went to bed and said if this is the hill we die on we are going to die loud and proud. We have always fought for equality for everyone,” Sac said. “I just felt so right in my soul standing up to the online stuff. I talked to all my staff to make sure they are all comfortable going forward, and everyone has backed us.”
The “Starry Night Drag Brunch” is set to take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, with doors opening at 6 p.m.
The event costs $35 a ticket for a meal and general admission or $50 for those who would also like bottomless mimosas. Those under the age of 18 can get a ticket for $20.
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