image of stained glass from the Community Church of Chesterland

Chesterland, Ohio – Chanetlle Billson reports for PinkNews that police were called at around 1:00 p.m. on March 25 to a report of arson at the Community Church of Chesterland, where a Drag Queen Story Time event was due to take place. Officers found a crude, home-made Molotov cocktail bomb had hit the church, resulting in damage, along with minor scorching to the exterior. A sign had also been vandalized. The attack came as the church planned to hold the drag event, hosted by marketing and communications company The Fairmount Group.

President and chief executive of The Fairmount Group, Mallory McMaster, told PinkNews she believes the attacks aren’t specifically about drag, children, or the LGBTQ+ community, but a hate group’s “attempt to mobilize their base ahead of the upcoming 2024 elections – the same base that invaded the Capitol on 6 January, 2021”. McMaster said:

“Their tour of terror jumps from movement to movement, hoping to gain media attention when a specific topic becomes politically volatile. In this case, they chose drag because gerrymandered legislatures around the country are passing anti-drag bills at lightning speed.

These vile hate groups are invading our inclusive, welcoming community expecting a warm welcome and they aren’t going to get it. We’ve been working with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that they will manage the protest and we are confident in our ability to move forward with our private events. My team is taking every precaution to keep our guests safe and give everyone a fun, happy day that is more memorable than the pathetic Nazis crying for attention outside.”

The church’s pastor, Jess Peacock, posted on Facebook: “I am exhausted, angry, saddened and frustrated by the hate and ignorance that has been, quite literally, hurled at us in the form of a Molotov cocktail. Hate that was (and we need to be clear about this) in no way [provoked] by us. No matter where anyone stands on the issue of drag shows and drag story hours, this kind of response is beyond the pale.” Peacock went on to say that the church, situated in Geauga County, about 45 minutes from Cleveland, has received a “food of support” through emails, donations and phone calls. “I go from anger to sadness, to disbelief to commitment because it’s not every day that you find out that someone wants to burn down your church home.”

Source: Chanelle Billson, forPinkNews.