LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. (WGN-TV) — A suburban Illinois bakery that had planned to close its doors after targeted harassment says it will remain open for now.
UpRising Bakery and Café in Lake in the Hills says customers have made it clear they want the business to keep going. The bakery’s planned closure was due to attacks of vandalism and threats it received in response to a planned family-friendly drag brunch last summer.
“The doors and windows were destroyed, the glass was shattered, and messages of hate were painted on the building,” UpRising owner Corinna Sac, said in a press release posted to Facebook. Sac explains that the accused perpetrator, 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins, is a member of the Proud Boys.
Collins was charged with felony criminal damage to property and felony hate crimes, as reported by Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, VICE, and other outlets. As a result of the damage officials say Collins committed — which included spray-painting the word “groomers” on the store’s wall — in addition to other negative community reaction, Sac says sales dropped and the business was “more than $30,000 in debt with rent overdue.”
But a GoFundMe page started by customer Megan Rose has raised more than $23,000 across 699 donations as of Saturday, giving UpRising reason for hope. Rose writes of the fundraiser campaign, “Rise Up for UpRising Bakery and Café,” that she hopes the funds will “help UpRising continue to do what they do best — offer a safe and welcoming space to those who may be struggling to find just that.”
“I am openly proud, gay, and the happiest I have ever been living with my girlfriend in this quaint little suburb of Chicago,” Rose explains in the campaign bio. “As a suburb gal, I was stoked knowing I could see a drag show and not have to go into the city. But that very same excitement quickly turned into sadness as I read that the UpRising had been vandalized with homophobic slurs and destruction of property. “
UpRising’s own website currently directs to fundraising options, asking for help to “keep our dream alive and your spaces safe.” But owner Corinna Sac acknowledges she still knows that the fix is only temporary and that a move is imminent.
“People want us in McHenry County,” Sac said Friday. “… We will stay in McHenry County because it is my home. We are exploring new locations to move to at a future date.”
Sac says in the meantime, the bakery will operate as the café portion of the business winds down for a mid-April close.
Over the past two years, the LGBTQ+ community has faced targeted accusations of “grooming” from some far-right and conservative groups, though the Anti-Defamation League notes the language is not used legitimately. “Instead, [anti-LGBTQ+ figures] imply or explicitly claim that LGBTQ+ people are pedophiles who are preying on children by discussing issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
As defined by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the word “grooming” refers to “manipulative behaviors that [a sexual abuser] uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.”
It’s important to note that while some segments of drag performance can be sexual in nature, this is not always the case. As with the planned brunch at UpRising, “family-friendly” events merely feature performers in more comedic settings and situations. Nevertheless, detractors claim drag is inherently sexual.
Questions about drag have arisen in conversations around transgender identities, as the two are often conflated, despite having two different meanings. In its most basic sense, “drag” typically refers to an art form of men (either heterosexual or queer) dressing as women for theater – a tradition that dates back to Shakespearean days, BBC reports.
Trans people have been integral to the development of drag, particularly American performers like activist and Gay Liberation Front co-founder Marsha P. Johnson, who were at the forefront of LGBTQ+ civil rights in 1970s New York City.
Often, drag queens use their drag for more serious activism and even light-hearted comedy. It’s important to note that the art form of drag is not inherently sexual or tied to any one sexual orientation or identity.