Anonymous donor to cover cost of drag bingo event at Downers Grove library

  • Downers Grove Public Library Director Julie Milavec talks to reporters about an upcoming -- and controversial -- drag-themed bingo event.

      Downers Grove Public Library Director Julie Milavec talks to reporters about an upcoming -- and controversial -- drag-themed bingo event. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove Public Library patron Holly Plys, with hat in hand, is among those who have raised concerns about the facility's plans for a drag-themed bingo event for teens next month.

      Downers Grove Public Library patron Holly Plys, with hat in hand, is among those who have raised concerns about the facility's plans for a drag-themed bingo event for teens next month. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • An anonymous donor is covering the cost of a drag-themed bingo event for teens at the Downers Grove Public Library, officials announced.

    An anonymous donor is covering the cost of a drag-themed bingo event for teens at the Downers Grove Public Library, officials announced. Daily Herald File Photo

  • Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, left, and Orland Park Republican Keith Pekau are candidates for the 6th Congressional District seat in November 2022.

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, left, and Orland Park Republican Keith Pekau are candidates for the 6th Congressional District seat in November 2022.

 
 
Updated 8/31/2022 8:42 PM

An anonymous donation will cover the cost of an upcoming drag-themed bingo event at the Downers Grove Public Library, officials announced Wednesday.

The contracted $125 fee is coming from a Downers Grove community member, library Director Julie Milavec said during a news conference.

 

Set for 7 p.m. Oct. 11, the event -- open to seventh- through 12th-graders -- will be hosted by a drag queen using the stage name Aurora Divine. Bingo games and a short lip-sync performance of Katy Perry's song "Firework" are planned, Milavec said.

The event has been denounced by Republican congressional candidate Keith Pekau, who also is Orland Park's mayor. Pekau called the gathering "inappropriate" and "an unacceptable use of taxpayer funds" in statements released on Facebook and his campaign website.

Pekau is running for the 6th District seat now held by Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove. Casten supports the event and has criticized Pekau's stance.

The gathering also has been condemned by Awake Illinois, a Naperville-based group that has made queerphobic social media posts and encouraged people to protest a recent drag show at a Lake in the Hills bakery.

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The group's government affairs director, former GOP lieutenant governor candidate Kathleen Murphy, handles communications for Pekau's campaign.

Neither Pekau nor Awake Illinois leaders have responded to interview requests.

Although many people have called or emailed the library to oppose the event, many have supported it.

Milavec said the library will not cancel the program. It will be appropriate for a library and the target audience, she said.

Library patron Kathy Grevas noted that the private donation indicates people want the event to occur.

"Times have changed," she said. "We have to be accepting of the fact that there are different people in this world, and some of them are transgender."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But patron Holly Plys, who was among a dozen or so people who gathered outside Wednesday's news conference, questioned why it's being held. Citing her Christian beliefs and the pride she takes in her femininity, Plys said she feels insulted by men who dress like women.

"Why does the library feel this is beneficial for our children?" Plys said.

The event is free to attend but limited to 40 participants -- and 40 already have signed up. Wait-list registration at downersgrove.libnet.info/event/7056711 is required.

Library officials are speaking with Downers Grove police about extra security.

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