Uprising Bakery in Illinois Forced to Close Amidst Harassment, Vandalism, Revenue Loss Following Drag Show Controversy

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

LGBTQ+ Owned Bakery Succumbs to Backlash Despite Efforts to Promote Inclusivity and Equality

Uprising Bakery and Cafe, a woman and LGBTQ+-owned establishment in Lake in the Hills, a northern Chicago suburb, has announced its permanent closure due to financial challenges stemming from harassment, vandalism, and revenue loss. The bakery faced a wave of backlash after attempting to host a family-friendly drag brunch event last summer. Despite their commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment, the bakery's efforts were met with animosity and prejudice.

The planned drag show, scheduled for late July, sparked outrage among some members of the community, leading to acts of hate and vandalism targeting Uprising Bakery. These incidents significantly impacted the business, resulting in both financial strain and emotional distress for the owners.

Several months after its opening in November 2021, the bakery temporarily closed when an individual identified as Joseph I. Collins, a 24-year-old resident of Alsip, Illinois, engaged in acts of vandalism. Authorities reported that Collins smashed windows at the business with a baseball bat and spray-painted "hateful messages" on July 24. The motive behind the vandalism was attributed to the cafe's plan to host a family-friendly drag show on that day. The subsequent financial struggles ultimately forced the heartbreaking decision to permanently close their doors.

In addition to vandalism and bigotry, both staff and customers have been harassed and the owner, Corinna Bendel Sac, has received threats. Last March things had gotten so bad that Sac, intended to close. However, after a GoFundMe page raised $48,000 she was able to keep the bakery open, settling $30,000 of debt and backpay for rent.

The owners of Uprising Bakery and Cafe had envisioned a safe space where people from all walks of life could come together, enjoy delicious food, and celebrate diversity. While it doesn't appear that Sac intends to reopen the bakery in another location, however, she said she will remain active in the community and move on to new dreams.

"Dreams don’t last forever, you have them, enjoy them; and then all of a sudden you’re in a new one," Sac said. "Some dreams mean so much you try to force it to come back, to finish, but ultimately it’s gone and it’s time for you to be experience something new. Our team of amazing individuals are now all moving onto experience new dreams. Dreams with renewed hope, security, and promise."

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Chicago, IL

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