Chesaning residents divided over drag queen fundraiser

A debate seen across the country has now popped up in mid-Michigan over the entertainment planned for an annual event.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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CHESANING, Mich. (WNEM) - A debate seen across the country has now popped up in mid-Michigan over the entertainment planned for an annual event.

Part of the entertainment for the Chesaning Candle Walk fundraiser a week from Saturday includes a drag queen. Some residents support the move, others, not so much.

“I think it’s great,” said Chesaning resident Michaela Schultz.

“I’m against it,” said fellow resident Joseph Gilbert.

Depending on who you ask in Chesaning, having a drag queen as part of the entertainment for a local fundraiser is, or is not, a good idea.

The event, Not Your Average Chesaning Brunch, is a fundraiser for the Chesaning Candle Walk. It takes place on Saturday, May 6 at the Riverfront Grille.

Jennifer Hall shared a video by Pastor Joe Rodriguez of the New Wine Gospel Church on her Facebook page with the following statement:

A warning for those who attend the Chesaning Candlewalk annually: This is Pastor Joe Rodriguez of New Wine Gospel church in Chesaning. He was also a close friend to my father-in-law. He is warning against the bad turn the Candlewalk will take at Christmas time this year! They are having entertainment using A DRAG QUEEN!! This is a family event!! Our tiny village has become Woke and decided to run on the side of evil. Please share with others so parents can be informed before attending.

Gilbert said he agrees.

“Well, if you’re like me, and don’t believe in it, then it’s offensive to us and our rights should count. I don’t believe in that stuff and that’s my right,” Gilbert said.

Schultz said she does not agree.

“Raising money for something that needs to be done in town, go do it! Have a good time! If you don’t want to be around the drag queen, don’t be around the drag queen. But don’t bring everybody else down,” Schultz said.

The Village of Chesaning posted on its Facebook page, pointing out that the Village of Chesaning and the Chesaning Chamber of Commerce were not involved in the planning of this event. The post went on to state that this is a private event on private property. It ended by encouraging anyone with concerns to attend the next Village Council meeting and speak during open statements, reminding those planning to attend that bigotry and hate speech will not be tolerated.

TV5 reached out to both Hall and Pastor Rodriguez, along with the organizers of the event, but has not heard back.

Chesaning’s next Village Council meeting is Tuesday night, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.

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