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Suburban Chicago Bakery Wins, Can Hold Future Drag Brunches

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Thanks to the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, a suburban Chicago bakery will be allowed to host drag shows and other entertainment events. UpRising Bakery and Cafe remained in a holding pattern this week after officials in Lake in the Hills, a town 45 miles north of Chicago, told them last week they could no longer host events of this nature due to improper zoning.

The timing of the enforcement was curious, given the months of abusive behavior the bakery ensured, from online harassment with staff labeled as pedophiles to vandals leaving a bag of feces outside the bakery. This was in response to plans for hosting a family-friendly drag brunch in late July. The ACLU via a news release, announced the bakery and village officials had come to an agreement that would allow UpRising to host future events.

The response in late July was ripped out of the anti-LGBTQ playbook, something that’s been on rise nationally in recent months, put Lake in the Hills in the national spotlight, something rare for the town of about 30,000. The fervor reached a crescendo on July 23 after a vandal caused significant damage to the bakery. Bakery owner Corinna Sac would cancel a July 24 brunch for safety reasons. Police would later arrest 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins of Alsip. They charged him with a felony hate crime and criminal damage to property. Collins has ties to the Proud Boys, a hate group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center that was involved in the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C.

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Owner Corinna Sac at her bakery.
Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Critics bashed the zoning enforcement, citing that the bakery had held events since it had opened in 2021 without worry and that the bakery shouldn’t be forced to navigate red tape right now. It needed support, and the ACLU argued enforcement violated free speech and “constitutes unconstitutional retaliation.” Village officials worried that a larger profile painted the bakery as a larger target and that it would require additional resources including more police. Sac faced fines and the loss of licenses if she held the events.

In the news release, Sac says she looks forward to holding drag shows and other events in the future.

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