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West Chester Outfest canceled due to hateful backlash


WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — A local borough has canceled its first LGBTQ celebration scheduled for next weekend due to hate-fueled responses. Many were upset about the planned drag show.

On Monday, the West Chester Borough Republican Committee posted on its social media account that a drag show was going to take place downtown. They included a flyer for Outfest and shared one of the drag performer’s Instagram accounts. They added: “If you think this is inappropriate like we are doing, please make your voice heard at the borough council.”

Council Chairman Michael Stefano told CBS Philadelphia that council members received a ton of emails.

“It’s quite outrageous that this event continues,” Stefano said. “And the outrage wasn’t just about the event, but the fact that there would be drag queens at the event.”

This outrage and fear of what might happen despite the absence of any threat resulted in the cancellation of the permit for the event, nullifying it.

“They compared drag queens and the fact that there would be drag queens at a community event where kids might be sexualizing kids and grooming kids,” Stefano said.

The artist whose Instagram page was shared by the Republican committee, Stefani Steel, was scheduled to perform at the event.

“Every show I run, I’m always like, ‘How’s the audience? Who’s in the audience?’ I look around me, as if there were children?” said Steel. “Because I will adapt and act differently for each audience.”

Steel says their Instagram page is for adults, not kids. Her shows, as she explained, depend on the audience. She says when she acts she is like a Disney character and she says all of this could have been avoided.

“It could have been if you’re not into it, if you think it’s not good for your kids, don’t come,” Steel said.

The West Chester Borough Republican Committee could not be reached for comment, but they posted on their social media accounts on Thursday saying, in part, ‘light criticism and concern about the appropriateness of a community event do not constitute hatred or even terrorism as some have alleged.We have never encouraged threats implicitly or explicitly.

Meanwhile, Stefano says it’s one of his goals, following this week’s events, to have an Outfest-style event one way or another in West Chester in the future.


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