Planned drag night at petting zoo spurs hateful messages, threats


‘The intolerance has gotten to degree 11 out of 10’

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A Calgary petting zoo and theme park has obtained hateful and threatening messages on-line after promoting its deliberate drag evening on social media.

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Cobb’s Journey Park proprietor and president Mike Sheppard says the adults-only drag occasion, deliberate for Saturday night, has prompted a number of emails and feedback from folks accusing the enterprise of “sexualizing youngsters” and claiming they’ll not go to the park — some inferring violence of their messages.

One touch upon the occasion on Fb reads: “Solely approach anybody ought to go is that if they get to convey weapons to the present.” Others referred to as the occasion “disgusting” and “woke stupidity,” amongst a number of different detrimental feedback.

Sheppard famous his enterprise has lengthy supported the LGBTQ neighborhood and that is the third yr he’s hosted a drag evening, however that is the primary time it’s been met with such extreme disdain. Sometimes, he stated the annual occasion would function different entertainers corresponding to contortionists or hula-hoopers alongside the drag queens, however this yr they needed to turf some acts to bolster security. He additionally filed a police report.

“These different performers we needed to cancel. We had a finances of $1,000 for that, however we’re placing that $1,000 into safety guards now due to that message,” he stated.

One of many performers, Jesse Postma, who goes by the drag title Angelina Starchild on stage, stated the rhetoric is sadly nothing out of the atypical.

“It’s not likely something new. It’s simply one thing that’s at all times been there and sort of festering,” stated Postma, who additionally hosts a weekly drag brunch at native homosexual bar Twisted Component each weekend.

“However with the top of the (peak of the) pandemic and sort of the restrictions all loosening up, I really feel like everybody simply began to really feel actually courageous. So I really feel prefer it’s gotten lots worse.”

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Postma stated the messages do make him barely uncomfortable, however stated he thinks the threats are empty and Sheppard’s promise of further safety put him extra comfy.

“We shouldn’t must be going by this; it’s 2022,” he stated. “A part of me is a bit nervous. However the different a part of me is — I simply wish to go on the market and do what I’ve been doing for the previous virtually decade.”

Each Sheppard and Postma stated it appears folks have been emboldened to extra openly showcase their bigotry as of late, particularly underneath the veil of on-line anonymity.

“All people simply wants to sit back out a bit. The intolerance has gotten to degree 11 out of 10,” stated Sheppard.

“With all the things occurring on this planet — from inflation to jobs; we simply bought over two years of COVID — I believe persons are afraid. I don’t know why that offers them energy for hate, nevertheless it does.”

Regardless of the vitriol and threats of misplaced enterprise, Sheppard stated he’s not reconsidering internet hosting the drag evening, saying it’s essential for him, his workers and the roughly 300 folks that may attend the present that they don’t again down.

“Personally, it’s crucial for us,” he stated. “I additionally assume publicly, folks have to face as much as it.

“If we’re gonna lose just a few clients over that, I’m OK with that.”

For extra data on Cobbs Journey Park and the drag evening this weekend, go to

Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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