Employees quit as a result of the harassment, and the bakery’s owner, Corinna Bendel-Sac, has since said she fears for both her business and life. Bendel-Sac was in attendance Tuesday and had a banner with a rainbow American flag with her.
Among the 10 public comments given, it was split between those in support and opposed.
Supporters hit on themes of tolerance and repeatedly voiced the idea that if someone didn’t like the events, then they don’t have to attend while detractors said they sought to protect children and raised concerns about whether the events were allowed under zoning rules.
Supporter Eric Willoughby said those opposed to the bakery were “spreading conspiracies” that people in the LGBTQ community groom children and were trying to spread fear. He called their opposition “terroristic” and called on the Village Board to condemn those protesting the bakery.
“We won’t back down,” Willoughby said. “We won’t tuck our tails in-between our legs and run away.”
For resident Ted Shew, the issue was children and limiting what they are exposed to. He said children already experience high levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Disagreements aren’t hatred,” Shew said in response to Willoughby. Shew said he has a transgender daughter and he doesn’t have to agree with her to love her.
“Is there a limit to what we will expose children to?” Shew asked. “Do we have any rights to create any limits to what children are exposed to?”
The protesters brought flags about Jesus and protecting children, while the bakery’s supports raised gay pride rainbow flags and called for tolerance. Both sides then began asking other residents to attend Tuesday’s village meeting.
James Gustafson, a former Lake in the Hills resident who currently lives in Arizona, was at Saturday’s protest and Tuesday’s meeting.
He said he doesn’t think the content being displayed at the bakery is something young children should see, comparing it to a “red light district.” He reiterated plans to camp out at the bakery every day until March.
“I have been sworn at. I’ve been threatened,” he said. “If love is truly love, I have not seen that displayed by patrons of the bakery.”
Resident Lynn Royales said she was in attendance Saturday as well and said both sides were “incredibly respectful to one another.” She added that she thought everything going in involving the bakery was “comical and bizarre,” and those opposed should just not patronize the bakery.
“When [William] Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, there were no female-at-birth performers,” she said. “Juliet was a man in drag, kissing Romeo, another at-birth man.”
Village President Ray Bogdanowski said the bakery is following village code and the village’s goal is to promote safety among residents..
“Our previous concerns we had with the bakery owner were addressed,” he said. “No matter what side of the issue you’re on ... our main focus [is safety].”
Trustee Stephen Harlfinger spoke at the end of the meeting after nearly all in attendance had left. He echoed Bogdanowski’s comments but said the village can’t do anything for either side of the issue, as both are exercising their constitutional rights.
“The various back-and-forth bickering, ... people are so concerned with what’s going on with children, their displaying actions that don’t ... display an influence to children of a positive nature,” he said.