A group of drag queens that was scheduled to perform at a Pride celebration in Windham this weekend has dropped out of the event after community pushback and a threatening encounter prompted the performers to question their safety.

“Unfortunately, because people in the town haven’t been standing up and being vocal enough in fighting this hate against queer people and people in drag, there’s just been this community of hate that has truly terrorized us,” said Chartreuse Money, one of the drag queens who had been scheduled to perform Sunday.

Money, who asked to be identified by her stage name because of safety concerns, said she was approached by a man she didn’t know in a bar in Portland last week and was told not to attend the event because her life would be in danger. She said the encounter shook her and was a key reason she and other drag queens dropped out of the Together We Rise event.

Drag performer Chartreuse Money dropped out of the Windham Pride festival, Together We Rise, after being harassed and receiving threats. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

It’s the first Pride celebration to be held in the town and came about in response to a contentious debate in the school district last year about whether books with queer storylines and characters should be allowed in classrooms. 

And while the overall response has been positive, there has been pushback from a small number of people, said Kate Turpen, board president of Windham & Raymond Pride, which is organizing the event.

“There’s a lane of amazing support that I’m so grateful for, and then there’s a lane of threats and closed-mindedness,” Turpen said. “Due to the closed-mindedness and use of social media with reckless abandon from some of our neighbors, we don’t have the privilege of having a drag show anymore.”


But the festival will go on, Turpen said.

The cancellation of the drag show is just the latest example of the negative response some communities have seen as Pride events in Maine and elsewhere have grown in popularity. Protesters showed up at an inaugural Pride event in Gorham last year and residents in Unity circulated a petition trying to ban Pride decorations on town property.

A record amount of legislation attacking LGBTQ+ rights has advanced in recent years, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, and the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning of potential violence last month in advance of Pride Month activities.

Gia Drew, executive director of EqualityMaine, an organization dedicated to education and outreach in support of LGBTQ+ people, said there are more than 31 Pride events scheduled in Maine in June during Pride month.

“That’s wonderful and I think it’s a wonderful show of support for the LGBTQ community, especially in light of some of the national pushback on our community and some of the pushback our community has faced here in Maine,” Drew said. “But with that comes some safety considerations. We definitely know last year there were some really targeted attacks and push back and hurtful language.”



Money said she was in a bar in Portland after a performance last week when a man she didn’t know approached her and asked if she was planning to perform at the upcoming Pride event in Windham.

The man leaned in close and told her not to go to the event, Money said. He said he couldn’t say anything more than that there was a threat and that Money’s life would be in danger if she went.

Not long before she left, Money said she was shaken by the exchange and noticed the man was lingering outside. She felt him stare at her from his truck before he drove off.

“I didn’t know if he was warning me of the threat or if he was an active threat,” Money said. “I needed to immediately get out of the bar.”

She said she called police in Portland and Windham when she got home and the next day got in touch with the organizers of the event. She also reported the incident to the FBI.

Windham police Chief Kevin Schofield said Thursday that his department was able to identify the man who approached Money and he did not appear to have any information about a specific threat.


“The statements were made in the context of there’s most likely going to be some protesters and there were some opposing comments made on social media, not in the context of any direct knowledge or inside information that someone is going to be targeted,” Schofield said.

Schofield said police also have been made aware of “some opposing views and comments” being made about the event on Facebook, but “nothing we would call a direct threat to any specific individual.”

He said police have been working with organizers for months and will be at Sunday’s event.

“Our goal is to be prepared and facilitate a safe event for all attendees,” Schofield said.


Money said the threatening exchange along with other pushback and issues related to the event factored into the drag queens’ collective decision to call off their show.


“We decided the best way we could go forward with having Pride in Windham and being safe, was to have the performances cease and not happen anymore,” Money said.

Money said the drag queens and organizers had a meeting on Zoom Wednesday. One performer brought up a social media post about a man saying he was planning to make shirts to impersonate event volunteers. And Money said she was concerned about some aspects of how the town of Windham responded to the event, which is being held on town property though the town was not involved in organizing it.

She said that after some people started criticizing the event, the town asked the drag queens to sign liability waivers saying they wouldn’t hold the town liable if they were hurt or injured during the event. Money said that seemed unusual.

A spokesperson for the town of Windham said officials were not available Thursday afternoon to answer questions about the event, including the reason for the liability form and if it is standard, and whether the town has a position on the event.

Turpen, the Windham & Raymond Pride president, said that what happened to Money was just one example of some of the pushback organizers have gotten. They’ve had to rethink their volunteer strategy because of the concerns about someone trying to impersonate volunteers. There have also been calls for people to speak out about the event at town council meetings, Turpen said.

“It’s disappointing to me that a vocal minority is influencing the perception of this opportunity for our residents,” Turpen said.


The reaction and the decision for the drag queens to drop out of the event also has disappointed some residents and officials.

“To have the intimidation and bullying kind of shut down part of it, it’s just a shame,” said Jarrod Maxfield, a town councilor. “I don’t think that should go unanswered or that we shouldn’t let the public know. I think the public should know. We want to encourage people to come despite that bullying and intimidation. The show – at least part of it – is still going to go on.”

Drew, from EqualityMaine, said her group works with communities and organizations on event planning and how to be safe. She also encouraged people who are the target of threats or bias to reach out to police, or if they don’t feel comfortable doing so themselves, to reach out to EqualityMaine to advocate on their behalf.

Drew said the majority of Mainers are understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ+ but there is still work to be done.

“I do think some of the misinformation or stereotypes or lack of familiarity is raised in some of the rhetoric we’re hearing,” she said. “That’s definitely part of our work (to address that) … but I do believe we’re making progress and I think most Mainers support LGBTQ+ people.”

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