A suburban café is at the center of an ongoing controversy over their plans to host a family-friendly drag show.
After being vandalized and harassed, UpRising Bakery and Café in Lake in the Hills, located 40 miles northwest of Chicago, is now being told it cannot host any future live events.
Since announcing her plans to host the family-friendly drag show on Facebook, UpRising’s owner Corinna Sac has received angry phone and online messages. The harassment went as far as calling bakery workers pedophiles and reporting Sac, a mother of two, to the Department of Children and Family Services.
The harassment culminated in an act of vandalism the night before UpRising’s scheduled family-friendly drag show on July 23. Windows and doors were smashed and the café’s outdoor patio was graffitied with homophobic slurs.
Police soon arrested 24-year-old Joseph Collins of southwest suburban Alsip and charged him with a hate crime.
On July 28, village officials told Sac that UpRising’s live programming violated a local zoning ordinance and she had to refrain from holding any more events. Sac was told she faced fines of up to $750 per day and the suspension or revocation of business and liquor licenses if she continued to hold live events at the café.
“It is essential for UpRising to be able to host these events. It is what bridges the gap in our daily sales to make sure we can pay our rent, pay our taxes and pay our employees,” Sac said in a Facebook video posted Saturday. “At no time up until last Thursday were we told that our building was not zoned to do any sort of event. I feel like this is discrimination and a conspiracy to interfere with my business.”
The ACLU of Illinois has now stepped in to assist Sac.
“The Village dramatically changed its approach to UpRising and its events because of harassment and attacks it faced because of its drag brunch, which is unfortunate and unfair, not to mention unconstitutional,” said Kevin Fee, senior special litigation counsel at the ACLU of Illinois. “One of the bakery’s founding goals is to create a space and opportunity for everyone – including those who are LGBTQ – to feel welcomed in Lake in the Hills. Robbing the community of that opportunity because outside extremists objected to a drag brunch sends a terrible signal to the LGBTQ community.”
In a statement posted on the village’s website Thursday evening, officials said the matter is a zoning issue.
“The Village of Lake in the Hills received hate related complaints and calls for protest prior to the planned event on July 23, 2022. Standing with our community and businesses, the Village demonstrated unwavering support to UpRising Bakery and Café, staying alongside the business to fight against hate in every way possible,” the statement reads. “It is disheartening that our actions are now being portrayed in a different light. The Village learned that the business model for the bakery and café has fundamentally changed, requiring the Village to address zoning concerns. The change is not in the type of entertainment being offered, but in the offering of regular and extended entertainment events as an ongoing part of the business.”