DGPL board meeting consumed by Drag Queen Bingo controversy


ADJUSTING THE MIC: Michael Nielsen checks in with the audience before presenting his personal statement.

Maggie Fleming, Opinion Editor

The Downers Grove Public Library held their monthly board meeting Sept. 28, at the Village Council Chambers, as opposed to the library’s meeting room, in anticipation of a large crowd. At the most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees addressed the Drag Queen Bingo event, initially scheduled for Oct. 11, but previously canceled due to threats made on the library. In the audience, there was a clear divide between those who supported the library, wearing ‘We support the DG library,’ shirts, and their opposition. 

After the board discussed business matters such as funding and new construction, they devoted two hours to public comments. The president of the board, Swapna Gigani, addressed the audience before opening the floor to the general public. 

“The public comment agenda item is an intentional part of a structured meeting […] keep your comments to five minutes or less […] please remember it’s an opportunity to be heard, it’s not a debate or open discussion,” Gigani said. 

The first speaker to take the floor was a retired DGPL staff member, Ted Waltmire, who spoke in support of the library. 

“There’s too much hate and misunderstanding in the world today. Everyone in this room here today may not agree with materials and programming at DGPL, but everyone should endorse a safe environment for staff and the public to learn about diversity,” Waltmire said.

Shannon Adcock, founder and president of Awake Illinois, spoke in opposition of the event. Before the floor was opened to the public, an audience member asked the board if people outside of the DG community were allowed to speak. The response from Gigani was “unfortunately, yes.” Adcock, a Naperville resident, addressed this exchange in her public comment. 

“I will say it was an interesting welcome I received. I came in smiling, eager to talk to people and have conversations and one of the people here said, ‘What are you doing here from Naperville? Get a life.’ The heart on the shirts, the peace signs, the love– so much for tolerance and inclusion,” Adcock said. 

Later in Adcock’s statement, she shared opinions from other community members whose voices she claimed had been overshadowed. Adcock quoted numerous people who vocalized their views and allegiances to Awake Illinois and included a statement from drag queen Kitty Demure which was posted on youtube

“I understand you [people supporting Drag Queen events in the library] might want to look like you’re cool, that you’re woke, that you’re not a Nazi, not a homophobe; whatever it may be, but you can raise your child to be a normal, regular, everyday child without including them in gay, sexual things,” Demure said. 

After quoting Demure and other anonymous members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Adcock claimed to represent “all walks of life.” She then shared a more holistic message on behalf of the Awake Illinois organization. 

“To any entity or person entrusted with children: please don’t weaponize the word inclusivity to push inappropriate programming. There are a few public employees who hijacked tax-funded resources to promote sexual behaviors to children. There is a vast community of common sense citizens who stand against the exploitation of children– Awake Illinois is proud to be part of it,” Adcock said. 

Following the Board of Trustees’ five minute recess, the next speaker, David Diehl, voiced his opinions against the Awake Illinois organization. 

“To the Downers Grove Public Library I say this: I support you and I love you. You are leading this community and I am proud of Drag Queen Bingo and everything that you do as a library. You are a service to this community– Awake Illinois is a threat to this community,” Diehl said. 

Towards the end of the meeting, a less politicized and controversial matter was discussed by a number of speakers. DGN parent Kelly Saranecki, faced the audience before presenting a neutral statement. 

“I don’t think we’re here tonight to find any sort of agreement on this issue. What I hope some people can have is respect. Respect should be the goal.”