‘Endless’ harassment over drag events forcing bakery to close, Illinois owner says

A bakery that was vandalized in July after hosting a drag queen performance is now being forced to close, its Illinois owner said.

Corinna Sac, the founder of UpRising Bakery & Cafe in Lake in the Hills, said her business will close March 31. Located in a conservative area of McHenry County, about 65 miles northwest of Chicago, the business hosted inclusive events to serve all facets of the community, a March 19 statement said.

But attacks the business suffered “became a nightmare no businessperson could have anticipated,” Sac said in the statement.

“Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment and unrelenting negative misinformation about our establishment in the last eight months,” Sac said in the statement.

Sac said the bakery’s reputation was tarnished by misinformation, and customers were afraid to come to the business because of fears of harassment.

The bakery is a woman and LGBTQ+ owned business, according to its website. It opened in 2021, the bakery said in a statement.

UpRising Bakery vandalized in July

Prior to the business hosting a family-friendly event featuring drag performers in July, UpRising Bakery was vandalized. The restaurant’s windows were destroyed, glass was shattered, and hate messages were painted on the building, Sac said.

Joseph Collins was arrested and charged with a felony hate crime following the attack, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He has been photographed wearing Proud Boys attire, the Sun-Times said. The Proud Boys are an extremist group known for anti-Muslin and misogynistic rhetoric, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.

Sac told WLS her business received backlash even before the vandalism. During one instance, she told the TV station, someone came in and spat on a case of baked goods.

The bakery canceled the event “for the safety of the performers, staff and community.”

“I wanted to make this an all-ages drag show,” performer Jakki Love told WLS. “I wanted to just put on a show, have a great time, and embrace the community and now we’re not able to do that.”

With local and state law enforcement patrolling the parking lot, UpRising Bakery held its drag show in August, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Drag events continue, but so does harassment

In the months that followed the vandalism of the bakery, the business continued to hold drag events. Gatherings included a drag bingo event in November and a New Year’s Eve party featuring drag performers.

“It continues to be a safe space for people from all walks of life,” organizers of a GoFundMe said.

But according to the Rise Up for UpRising campaign, there continued to be daily protests in front of the shop, with bullying leading some employees to quit.

“Protesters spent more than 120 consecutive days on the property, creating disturbances, inciting violence, photographic license plates of patrons and harassing them on social media and online,” Sac said in her statement last weekend.

Sac and her family were also doxxed, with “horrific acts” depicted against their family’s pet, the statement said.

The business suffered low patronage and low sales because of the continued harassment, the owner said.

What’s next for UpRising?

Donors are trying to raise money to keep UpRising’s doors open, but Sac told WLS she will only accept the money if she’s confident she can keep the business open into the future.

There will be several events and fundraisers through the month with the hopes of keeping the business open.

“Without an infusion of more than $30,000, at this time, I cannot keep the doors open to my dream bakery,” Sac said. “I wish to thank every single one of you who have defended us, protected us and supported us.”

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