By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / Aug. 17, 2023
[CASTLE ROCK, COLO.] — With another overflow crowd on hand — this time with signs reading “We want the discussion” — the Castle Rock Town Council on Tuesday night agreed to look at revising the town code to address concerns about an annual LGBTQIA+ event at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in town.
The action was met with strong applause and cheers and follows similar meetings over the last few months where residents voiced concerns and objections in the wake of last year’s Castle Rock Pride-sponsored PrideFest event. A male drag show performer accidentally exposed fake female breasts to an audience that included children.
Councilmember Desiree LeFleur motioned to direct town staff to research and present a memo to the council at their Sept. 19 meeting. It would focus on how the town addresses public nudity, indecency, obscene exposure in public places and similar possible offenses the town can apply.
“Provided the town does not single out any particular group, event or viewpoint on any one issue,” LeFleur said. “It’s inappropriate to focus on one group when issues can and will involve everyone.”
“I don’t think anyone thinks last year’s show and exposure was OK for children,” Councilmember Ryan Hollingshead said. “I don’t want that kind of thing to ever happen again. But the (Douglas County) commissioners got together with Pride organizers to reestablish the boundaries. I think they have remedied the situation.”
This year's PrideFest is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, at the fairgrounds.
“Some people here don’t want to see anyone dressed in drag, but we can’t go there as a community,” Hollingshead added. “Many parents take their young kids to R-rated movies and they’re not supposed to. I know many 6th graders have cell phones, and their parents don’t put any filters on those, and these kids see horrible things on the internet.”
Town has jurisdiction
Town Manager Dave Corliss pointed out the town has no public indecency law and the state law applies in those cases.
Councilmember Tim Dietz has been the most vocal critic of PrideFest’s drag shows at the fairgrounds.
“I see news stories and posts of people chanting ‘we’re coming for your children’ and I don’t want to see any type of sexual show held in Castle Rock, let alone held in front of children,” he said Tuesday night.
Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken told the crowd the council would consider the town’s ordinances — not the county’s — so any changes they make may not apply to events held at the fairgrounds.
Town Attorney Michael Hyman said the town has jurisdiction over the county’s facilities but not events at those faculties. He also noted the town’s laws carry municipal fines and penalties, which must be less than state or district court offenses.
‘Comes down to prurient behavior’
A handful of people spoke to the council on the matter, including Dave Love, pastor of Calvary Castle Rock church.
“We hired a lawyer to look at the municipal code and he thought the town was vulnerable in this area,” Love said. “And the problem isn’t just things like indecent exposure; it comes down to prurient behavior.”
Love stated that behavior is “supposed to induce a sexual desire or thought” and “that’s what we don’t want to come before children.”
Megan Zavadil, a Castle Rock Pride board member, said she is not opposed to an indecent exposure measure.
“I’m the mother of a 12-year-old, and I don’t want my child seeing indecent exposure,” she added. “I’m also aware that this is being spearheaded by those with bigoted intentions to target the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly drag performers. Should the town listen to this squeaky wheel and pursue such a measure, I trust the town leadership to implement it in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.”
However, Zavadil also stated such a measure “will not stop those who are hateful from continuing to take up time in meeting after meeting. Despite their protestations to the contrary, they will stop at nothing short of a ban on drag and other queer expressions.”