Protestors gather at Talcott Free Library in response to Friday’s drag queen Q&A event

Talcott Free Library leaders took extra safety precautions to make sure no employees, library visitors or Q&A event guests were disturbed or hurt.
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 10:39 PM CDT
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ROCKTON, Ill. (WIFR) - The Talcott Free Library in Rockton takes extra safety measures Friday surrounding a controversial drag queen question and answer session.

The library has one goal in mind for the event: to keep everyone safe. Strong reactions on both sides of the aisle caused organizers to shift the event online.

“We’re trying to put measures in place to reduce the amount of protestors as possible just because we want this to be a fun, safe, welcoming environment,” said Krystal Ball, the host of the Q&A.

“I closed the library early for employee safety, not to mention the patrons who would have to try to walk through what will be a huge protest to reach the front door,” Megan Grove said in a statement, Talcott Free Library director. “The online event is very safe in that cameras and microphones will be completely disabled as well as the chat and Q&A. Only the moderators will be able to see any questions asked. There will also be no visible list of participants so no one logged into the event will be able to see who else is logged in. Protesters can/could be logged in, but any inappropriate comments/messages will only be seen by moderators and those people will be immediately removed from the event.”

“If we had to do it virtual, that is perfectly fine,” Ball said. “My main priority is everyone’s safety. I want everyone who is working this event to be able to do it but we have to do it in a safe way.”

Gail Bergeson attended Friday’s protest in support of the Q&A. She says seeing the number of people fighting makes her upset.

“It’s just literally putting on a costume and doing a silly act and I feel like we’re losing rights too fast, and I feel like this is hate,” she said.

Bergeson says she’s so glad library leaders didn’t cancel the event.

“I wish they still had it in person and I hope in the future they are able to have events in person,” she said.

“If people want to do drag that they want to do, you know, do that in their own personal time perfectly fine but to do it in a public facility with taxpayer money and with kids, we just think that there is a line that is drawn,” said Jim McIlroy, a protestor against the Q&A.

He says he isn’t protesting against drag queens or the LGBTQ community.

“We are in opposition of pushing that down to kids to create chaos, confusion and gender dysphoria,” McIlroy said.

Protestors stood in front of the library for an hour.