Planned drag night at petting zoo sparks hate messages and threats

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“Intolerance has reached level 11 out of 10”

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A Calgary petting zoo and theme park received hateful and threatening messages online after announcing its planned drag party on social media.

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Cobb’s Adventure Park owner and president Mike Sheppard said the adults-only event, scheduled for Saturday night, prompted several emails and comments from people accusing the company of “sexualizing children” and claiming that they will no longer visit the park. in their posts.

A comment about the event on Facebook reads, “The only way everyone should go is to bring guns to the show.” Others called the event “disgusting” and “wicked nonsense”, among multiple other negative comments.

Sheppard noted that his company has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ community and that this was his third year hosting a drag party, but this is the first time she has encountered such harsh disregard. Typically, he said the annual event would feature other performers such as contortionists or hula-hoopers alongside drag queens, but this year they had to cut some acts to tighten security. He also filed a police report.

“These other artists that we had to cancel. We had a budget of $1,000 for this, but now we’re putting $1,000 into security guards because of this message,” he said.

One of the performers, Jesse Jobwho goes by the name of drag Angelina Starchild on stage, said the rhetoric was unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary.

“It’s not really anything new. It’s just something that’s always been there and escalating,” said Postma, who also hosts a weekly brunch at local gay bar Twisted Element every weekend.

“But with the end of the (peak of the) pandemic and the kind of loosening of restrictions, I feel like everyone just started to feel really brave. So I feel like it got a lot worse.

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Postma said the messages made him slightly uncomfortable, but said he thought the threats were meaningless and that Sheppard’s promise of extra security made him more comfortable.

“We shouldn’t have to go through this; we are in 2022,” he said. “Part of me is a little nervous. But the other part of me is – I just want to go out there and do what I’ve been doing for almost ten years.

Both Sheppard and Postma said it seems people have been encouraged to show their bigotry more brazenly lately, especially under the cloak of online anonymity.

“Everyone just needs to relax a bit. Intolerance has reached level 11 out of 10,” Sheppard said.

“With everything going on in the world – from inflation to jobs; we just had over two years of COVID – I think people are scared. I don’t know why it gives them the power of hate, but it does.

Despite the vitriol and threats of loss of business, Sheppard said he was not considering hosting the drag night, saying it was important to him, his staff and the approximately 300 people who will attend the show. don’t back down.

“Personally, it’s very important to us,” he said. “I also think publicly that people should oppose it.

“If we’re going to lose a few customers because of this, I’m okay with that.”

For more information on Cobbs Adventure Park and drag night this weekend, visit cobbsadventurepark.com.

[email protected]

Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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