Skip to main content

'We are not going to be scared': Elora, Ont. drag show will continue as planned despite online vitriol


An upcoming drag show in Elora, Ont. has been subjected to hateful online messages, prompting provincial police to attend the event out of caution.

Marty Van Vliet is the owner of The Elora Distilling Company, where the show will be held, and the organizer of the event. Van Vliet came out as gay in the 1980’s and said he’s surprised that LGBTQIA2+ hate is still prevalent today.

“At the time, it was okay to bash gays, it was still socially the norm,” said Van Vliet. “We grew out of that … I am shocked that it’s happening in 2023.”

Since the announcement of the upcoming drag show, the company’s Facebook page has been inundated with what Van Vliet describes as hateful and threatening comments.

“We’ve been doing drag for fully a year. The first three shows, we never had a single comment and we put it out this time and got deluged on social media with really nasty, nasty comments,” he said. “They were calling us pedophiles, groomers. They said we should bring back the firing squad.”

In a statement to CTV News, OPP said: “Investigating online comments such as these can be challenging as often times those making the comments do not live in the community.” The statement concluded with police reiterating that there is no place for hate.

Van Vliet said that police will be attending the drag show as a precaution.

“It’s disconcerting when you have this amount of hate directed at you,” he said. “There was a lot of evenings where I was waking up at three in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. Who wants to be hated for who they are? It wasn’t anything we did. We are having a drag show.”

Though a new situation for the Elora company, this is not the first incident of its kind locally or across the country.

In December, a drag queen from Guelph said her shows were also threatened on social media and she ended up cancelling the event.

More recently, a drag queen in Coquitlam, British Columbia was reading to children at a library Saturday, when she was bombarded with protesters. However, the cheers of support outweighed the opposition.

“We’re not going to be scared here,” said Van Vliet. “We’re going forward with the event. It’s now sold out and I think the way to fight it is to know we are not going to listen and the community has rallied around us. We’re going to move forward with their support.” Top Stories

Stay Connected