A brewery in Langley has apologized for the “hurt” it caused when it cancelled a drag bingo event scheduled for Friday, reportedly for being “too polarizing.”
In an Instagram post, Lance Verhoeff, co-founder of Trading Post Brewing, said he was “truly sorry” for the decision, which he called a “huge mistake.”
“I want to apologize to our staff and to our guests for single-handedly making our space an unsafe space for the queer community,” he said in a video.
“I’m going to work to become better, to learn more, to listen to my team and just try to be a better human.”
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The drag bingo event was supposed to be hosted by Scarlett Rosé, who posted in her own Instagram story this week that she was told it had been cancelled for being “too polarizing.”
“It’s frustrating to hear this sort of thing because I am always willing to work with a company to help create queer representation for them,” she wrote.
“So to be told it’s too polarizing is pretty shitty. It seems what was really being said is it’s convenient to create a safe space one month of the year when it’s beneficial for you … but for the rest of the year, sucks to be gay!!”
Global News has reached out to Verhoeff and Rosé for comment.
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Trading Post has previously hosted drag bingo. In May in particular, it hosted an ‘All For Pride Weekend,’ that included drag bingo, a drag show and karaoke, and music from 2SLGBTQIA+ artists.
That event was branded on its website as “a celebration of all things LGBTQ+, run by and for the community,” encouraging participants to raise “a toast to diversity, inclusivity, and community.” It also raised funds to help create safe queer spaces at Trinity Western University.
In a written statement on Instagram, Verhoeff said the decision to cancel this drag bingo event “lacked the perspective of the community that would be affected.”
“My choice of words, describing drag events as ‘polarizing,’ was ill-considered and insensitive,” he wrote.
“As a business, I believed it would be in Trading Post’s best interest to take a neutral position, not realizing this neutrality is the same as standing aside for hate and discrimination to win. I did not consider how these actions would be perceived.”
Verhoeff said Trading Post will work to better support the community year-round and he will be reaching out to staff members, local LGBTQIA2S+ organizations, and guests to seek guidance on how to accomplish that.
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Nearby, the Vancouver Pride Festival is underway.
Earlier this week, Vancouver Pride Society co-chair Justin Khan said it’s a time to raise awareness and allies as disturbing stories of homophobia and transphobia increasingly make headlines in Canada and the United States.
“Allies just need to show up. They need to be present to protect our communities, to celebrate our communities, and really just to stand alongside,” he told Global News on Monday.
“I think there’s a really great opportunity for that to happen at this year’s parade and festival. I saw it last year and I’m excited to see it even bigger this year.”
According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes against the 2SLGBTQ+ community have also increased, with those targeting sexual orientation spiking 64 per cent between 2019 and 2021.
Symbols of Pride — including crosswalks and flags — have recently been defaced in a number of B.C. cities. Events involving drag performers, including summer camps and library readings, have become a particular target.
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