ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — A local library’s controversial drag queen event will go on, just a little differently than scheduled.
Hundreds of people showed up to demonstrate for and against the planned “Drag Queen Q&A” a little more than a week ago. That prompted library administrators to move the event online.
Community members have now started a fundraiser to support the library, as well as other events that they consider inclusive.
There were a few reasons. The overarching message is that of appreciation for the library and the board for what they have tried to do over the recent weeks.
“We just wanted to do something nice,” said Kelly Kulak of Rockton Pride. “We wanted to let them know that the community still supports them.”
Rockton Pride started a GoFundMe in support of the “Drag Queen Q&A,” as well as other events to grow inclusivity at the Talcott Free Library.
“We started it, then the night of the board meeting, and we heard a lot of the oppositions. Argument was that they were upset that their tax dollars were going to this,” Kulak said. “So, the fee, the taxpayer money that was paid, was $150, so that was our goal. We raised that, I think, within hours.”
The GoFundMe will go until July 10 in hopes of not just helping out this event, but continuing to open resources for the LGBTQ community in the area.
“‘Find your Voice’ program and the ‘Teen Advisory Board,’ and how they’re trying to get more inclusive programing and how their communities are represented,” said Jessica Green of Rockton Pride. “And, so I think for us, we’re really hoping, especially with now, the visibility of the LGBTQ community more often, that these funds can also help to ensure that the library can continue doing those programs.”
The Rockford Family Initiative has opposed the Q&A event. They said in an email that “does that match the library’s mission to encourage a love of literature? The broader community thinks not. We eschew any hate speech or violence and have no hatred for the Queen or the Talcott Free Library board. We see no benefit in library sponsorship of such an event.”
Hundreds from both sides went out on Wednesday in protest or support of the day. The library board gave the event the okay to continue.
“It brought us together and it fired us up, and now we’re not going to stop,” Kulak and Green said. “We, this is the motivation that we needed to really start speaking out in Rockton, and yeah, I mean, even beyond this Rockton Pride way, only hope it continues to grow. We want to bring awareness to that, whether it be through this event or just in general.”