Drag event at Rockton library will be virtual
The Drag Q&A at the Talcott Free Library will be a virtual event instead of in-person, but both supporters and opponents still plan real-life protests. The July 14 event was described as "drag artist, Krystal Ball,... stopping in to show off makeup and costuming skills and to answer questions about the art of drag." But the library announced on Monday, July 3, 2023:
Safety of everyone is our first priority. 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.
We are grateful for the opportunity to turn this into a live virtual event! Due to the great interest in attending- in person we would have had to turn people away. This way, everyone who wants to will be able to log in and attend safely.
More information about registration and conduct rules for the event will be posted next week. Please bear with us as we re-plan the entire event.
They later said on Facebook:
The police and fire departments conservative estimate is that approximately 1,000-1,500 people angry with each other are going to show up to Rockton. This is an unmanageable situation for our very small downtown area. We are doing our best to create a situation that increases the safety for all involved. Please be patient with us while we try to figure out the best situation. If we were a larger library in a larger area we would move forward with the program as planned but unfortunately we are not. This is the current solution and we are working out the details now.
More about the drag event
Though members of the library's Teen Advisory Board had suggested the event, many residents called for it to be canceled. Amidst the controversy, the library board held a public meeting at the Rockton Community Center on June 26, where residents spoke for and against the Drag Q&A.
With room for less than 100 inside the room, hundreds gathered outside the building at the west end of Rockton's Main Street, chanting and singing, to express their support or opposition to the event. The board voted 4-2 to allow the event on June 26. The library decided to make it a virtual event on July 3.
Before the change was announced, Jessica Green, one of the leaders of a new group, Rockton Pride, that supports the drag event, told us, "We are not planning a protest at the library. Our whole focus is safety. We want to work with the police to help form a wall up to the entrance. So that we can ensure attendees are safe." She said on Facebook that they would be having "de-escalation and self-defense training" and would be "shifting from a 'protest' state of mind to a 'safety' state of mind."
After the library board's vote, supporters of the drag event had posted on Facebook, "Love has won in Rockton! Let's show up on 7/14 with a SEA OF PRIDE to support our Talcott Library and the beautiful drag queens, as they put on a Q and A for our community to learn about the beauty of drag." Supporters are raising money on GoFundMe to "not only cover the costs of the 7/14 Drag Q and A event, but also to provide funds for our library to continue putting on amazing and inclusive programming."
However, the Rockford Family Initiative, claiming the event has been canceled, has announced they had not canceled their protest, which is still scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, July 14, 2023:
GOD WINS! Talcott Library has *CANCELLED* the in-person drag event for children! All glory and praise to God for this good news! PRAYERFUL PROTEST WORKS!At this point, the library is still planning a *virtual drag event* for children. The Talcott Library should completely CANCEL this event. So PLEASE - make plans to join us on Friday, July 14th at Talcott Library. We expect another huge crowd to again stand up against this madness and against the sexualizing and grooming of children.
Kevin Rilott, the large, cheerful Catholic schoolteacher who leads the Rockford Family Initiative, commented about the event on Facebook, "Canceled because people stood up against evil." One reader replied that "Jesus wasn't standing against evil. He was hanging," but that reply was later deleted, along with any negative replies.
When asked about the supporters' plans for July 14, Jessica Green told us Monday afternoon that "we are still processing this decision (emotionally especially) and figuring out our plans moving forward." At 9 p.m., they announced:
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.
We have asked the Rockford Police Department for a response. At the end of their meeting, the library board voted to limit protest on their property, opposite the Rockton Municipal Center on Main Street, which includes the police department. They blocked off Main Street during the June 26 protests but have not said what they would do on July 14.
More News from Rockton
- What's happening in the Stateline - Friday, Sep 22 - Friday, Sep 29 Our community calendar for Roscoe, Rockton, and South Beloit is full of things to do.
- Connie Moore was a familiar face at Schnucks Donations can be made in her name to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.