After multiple executive sessions to receive legal advice on the topic, the Douglas County commissioners have voted to work with Castle Rock Pride to ensure their future events are family-friendly.
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The decision comes after comments have poured into the county government regarding an LGBTQ event at the county fairgrounds Aug. 27. During a drag show at the celebration, a performer’s breast plate and false nipple were temporarily exposed.
Castle Rock Pride has informed the county that performers associated with the incident will not be invited back to the event, according to a statement from the county.
“We did receive thousands of comments,” Commissioner Abe Laydon said. “Most of them said we are parents or we care about kids, we don’t want to see the sexualization of youth.”
The county will also review their ordinances and guidelines for “sexually-oriented businesses” using their facility for performances.
Commissioner Lora Thomas said she met with the organizers of the event to discuss its future.
“Successful to them is an event where the public can come in and meet them, celebrate who they are and they do not want to have a repeat of the wardrobe malfunction that happened,” she said.
The county received a list of improvements organizers plan to make at future events, including having someone monitor each performance, Thomas said.
Commissioner George Teal, who posted on Facebook that he was interested in banning the event from county facilities, said in the meeting he doesn’t believe the organizers have the ability to keep their promises.
“I’m just not seeing any evidence that these are people that we can trust,” he said. “I hope this is an instance where I am proven wrong.”
He went on to say he doesn’t believe any kind of burlesque-style entertainment is appropriate for county facilities.
Videos of the drag performance circulated on social media, where some commenters expressed frustration with the exposure at an event not designated for adults only. Organizers sent out an apology over what happened, saying it was not a planned part of the performance.
“It is not in line with the family-family entertainment we had planned,” according to the statement. “We are adding additional steps and oversight to our entertainment planning process to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
In a statement from the county, commissioners said they had accepted the apology.
In his Aug. 29 social media post, Commissioner George Teal said he believes the exposure constituted a violation of zoning uses for the fairgrounds.
“Exotic adult entertainment is not an allowed use at the fairgrounds,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if accidenital.”
Castle Rock Pride responded to the comments by saying their goal is to provide a positive network of support and inclusion.
“It’s unacceptable that there are politicians who characterize our family-friendly entertainment as exotic adult dancing and who want to make this single incident an excuse to follow their agenda to erode diversity, equity and inclusion for all in Douglas County,” according to their statement.
Laydon and Thomas both said they were not interested in banning the event following Teal’s comments.
“I will not use the power of government to support thinly veiled bigotry and anti-gay rhetoric,” he said. “I represent everyone in this county and will continue to respect the rights of all people.”
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