Amid growing calls for Highlands Ranch to cancel a drag comedy show scheduled for Friday evening, the community association has implemented extra safety precautions at the Southridge Rec Center.
A drag comedy show, hosted by the Highlands Ranch Community Association and Cultural Affairs Association, prompted protests both in opposition and in support of the event, which is a ticketed, 21-and-older show at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Highlands Ranch Community Association spokesperson Jamie Noebel said the event was never intended to be political, but to provide a diverse entertainment option. Though a majority of the response has been positive, the HRCA has received what Noebel called “very ugly” comments, leading HRCA to increase security at the event, she said.
“We have definitely boosted up our security because we want everyone to feel safe and we want everyone to have a nice time and be entertained,” she said.
The Southridge Rec Center will also close at 5 p.m. except for eventgoers.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it will have an increased presence in the area but said it was not aware of any specific or credible threats.
Noebel also clarified that no HOA dues were used to fund the show because ticket sales and grants had already covered event costs.
She added that the opposition to the show has been disappointing.
“Some seem to think it’s not appropriate for our community or that it doesn’t represent our community, when it is the fabric of our community,” Noebel said of inclusive events. “(People who oppose the show) are not representative of everyone in our community.”
Opponents of the show argue it’s inappropriate for a community association to sponsor the content and host it at a rec center. A group called the Freedom Fathers planned a protest "prayer rally" in an effort to get the show canceled and prevent future drag events in Highlands Ranch.
In support of the protesters, Colorado Reps. Mark Baisley, Kim Ransom and Patrick Neville and Colorado Sen. Kevin Van Winkle signed a letter asking the Highlands Ranch Community Association to postpone the event.
In a phone conversation Friday, Baisley told Colorado Community Media he agreed with the show being postponed for two reasons — the potential threat to public safety and his belief that community funds would support the event. Baisley said he had seen threats against the protesters on social media.
“The people who object to (the drag comedy show) are very offended because they are sponsoring or promoting something against their will,” Baisley said. “We’re asking that (the HRCA) get the sentiments of the community, and I would hope that they would allow the show to go forward but not have it be a community-sponsored event.”
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