Downers Grove library defends decision to host Drag Queen Bingo event

Criticism anticipated; library director addresses ‘falsely named concerns’

The Downers Grove Public Library is on course for a renovation this year. The library board selected an architect for the project Feb. 27, and the design process will kick off in April.

The Downers Grove Public Library is defending its decision to hold an upcoming Drag Queen Bingo night for teens despite backlash from some community members.

Tyler Reviglio, who goes by the stage name Aurora Divine, will host the event, set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 11, at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss St. Geared toward students in seventh grade through senior year of high school, the date of the game night coincides with National Coming Out Day.

“We absolutely anticipated there would criticism,” Downers Grove Public Library Director Julie Milavec said. “The library has been doing equity, diversity and inclusion work for several years now and what we’ve found is that a lot of things that fall under that strategic plan goal has generated a lot of comment from the community.”

Library officials began receiving feedback after Saturday’s newsletter announced upcoming programs.

Many community members have taken to social media platforms such as Facebook to share their thoughts, with some praising the library for its inclusiveness and others suggesting the event is being used to groom children.

On a community Facebook page posting about the event, one person asked what value there is for middle school or high school students to watch a drag queen dance. Another person wrote that events such as this threaten traditional values. Other parents agreed, saying they have the right to make sure children are being raised and educated in a community that does not push immoral values.

The event even prompted members of the Downers Grove chapter of the conservative advocacy group Awake Illinois to issue a call of action for an email campaign, asking for people to “respectfully share your concerns and feedback.”

“They’ve asked folks to start contacting the library and even had a form letter up on their site so we’ve received quite a few of those,” Milavec said.

Awake Illinois is fielding questions posed by concerned citizens asking why tax dollars are promoting adult entertainment events for children and why the library board is OK with exploiting children in a public setting that may well encourage attendance of sex offenders/child predators, according to the organization’s website.

In an Aug. 29 statement to the community, Milavec disputed that notion.

“One of the falsely named concerns that has been shared with us is that hosting this performance will ‘groom’ children,” the statement said. “This has been used largely in two different ways: that we are grooming children to be complacent around sexual predators and/or that we are exposing children to a ‘contagion’ that will spread and ‘turn them’ into something they are not (i.e. gay, trans, etc.). This is indisputably false. A second concern repeatedly voiced to us is that we are purposefully introducing sexual content to children. This is also completely untrue. This performance will not be sexual in nature.

“To use a blanket label for drag queens as pedophiles and groomers perpetuates harmful false narratives and demonstrates a lack of understanding surrounding the drag community,” the statement added. Access the complete statement at

Words of support for the program also are coming in, Milavec said.

“We’ve heard a lot of positives with people saying ‘I support this,’ and ‘Children should see people with different identities being celebrated,’” Milavec said. “They’ve told us they appreciate our inclusiveness and they believe in our EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) work.”

The event has gotten praise from Downers Grove Commissioner Leslie Sadowski-Fugitt, who wrote in a post on her Facebook page that she is proud of the dedication of the library’s staff and board for “ensuring a sense of belonging for all at one of our most important public institutions.”

Sadowski-Fugitt wrote she is aware there is “a certain group trying to rile up its base” against the effort.

“Let me be clear: Your hate is not welcome here,” she wrote in her post. “Please stop making it what it is not. It is a space where those in our LGBTQ+ community can feel loved and welcomed for exactly who they are. They get to celebrate those who are now living their best lives, expressing themselves through hair, makeup and clothing. It is an art form. It is simply getting to unapologetically be.”

The library’s teen services coordinator came up with the idea for the event, Milavec said.

“She’s given a lot of latitude and trained to put on programs for teens and has put on a wide variety of programs so she’s always looking for the next fun thing to do,” she said.

In a message in December to the community on the Downers Grove Public Library’s website, the Board of Library Trustees and Milavec said the facility “stands firmly in its mission to be a place for everyone to discover, grow, play, learn.”

“The hate, discrimination, harassment and violence toward the LGBTQ+ community has resulted in, and continues to cause, widespread negative effects. The library reaffirms its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion work with the goal of creating a more inclusive and equitable space for the entire Downers Grove community,” according to the message.

Milavec said there is a sizable LGBTQ+ community within Downers Grove. She noted the Youth Outlook drop-in center, which opened in the village last year and provides a place for LGBTQ+ youth to feel safe, supported and celebrated.

“We have quite a few folks who are taxpayers and members of that community and they’re asking for very different programs than some of the other folks. As always, we do try to be very inclusive in our collections, our programs and our services and ensure all community members are represented and try to make sure there’s a little something for everyone,” Milavec said.

Not every library program or service is going to be of interest to every person in the community, she said.

“And that’s OK. In the same way we focus on different age groups, this is a focus on a different set of community members. The library’s kind of a choose your own adventure kind of place,” Milavec said. “If something appeals to you, great. If it doesn’t, the next one might.”

Library board meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the library’s Meeting Room.