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Caffe Fantastico cancels drag shows after anonymous caller threatens physical violence

Caller threatened staff, said someone should "shoot up the place with anyone in it"

By Ryan Hook
June 16, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Caffe Fantastico cancels drag shows after anonymous caller threatens physical violence

Caller threatened staff, said someone should "shoot up the place with anyone in it"

By Ryan Hook
Jun 16, 2022
Caffe Fantastico owner Ryan Taylor stands outside of his Quadra Village cafe on June 16. Photo: Martin Bauman / Capital Daily
Caffe Fantastico owner Ryan Taylor stands outside of his Quadra Village cafe on June 16. Photo: Martin Bauman / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Caffe Fantastico cancels drag shows after anonymous caller threatens physical violence

Caller threatened staff, said someone should "shoot up the place with anyone in it"

By Ryan Hook
June 16, 2022
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Caffe Fantastico cancels drag shows after anonymous caller threatens physical violence
Caffe Fantastico owner Ryan Taylor stands outside of his Quadra Village cafe on June 16. Photo: Martin Bauman / Capital Daily

It started with anonymous calls: an all-ages drag show, Sashay Cafe: Emo Edition at Caffe Fantastico, was making the caller upset. The show, they alleged, sexualizes children. 

Hours later, organizers cancelled the event after threats of violence.

“The police have been notified and a report filed, however this harasser did state they would show up outside of our all ages show to film,” the organizer, For the Love of Drag Victoria, wrote in an Instagram post.

Eventually, the calls escalated to threats of gun violence.

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Nobody was physically harmed, and nobody has been arrested.

Before the calls turned violent, Caffe Fantastico owner Ryan Taylor told Capital Daily that the “ignorant” calls began early this week. His staff began monitoring their calls, and Taylor believes there have been at least two separate people behind the threats.

“They were interrogating the staff in a very unsavoury way, and said that drag shows shouldn’t be allowed,” he said.

Yesterday, Taylor said the calls started to threaten violence.

“A caller said they’d be here on Saturday night taking photos, presumably to target individuals,” he said. 

The threats escalated from there.

“The last call we received, the caller said someone should come and shoot up the place with anyone in it.”

That’s when Taylor said he got the police involved. According to him, police have already identified some suspects. Capital Daily reached out to the Victoria Police Department for an update on the investigation but have not received a response. In a statement released at 4pm, the police confirmed they are investigating.

“It’s terrifying and it’s been a really big hit on our staff who are already struggling with customer service out of COVID,” Taylor said. “To make harassing calls and threats is too much for anyone to bear.”

Taylor said he agreed with the decision to cancel the event, and that it’s too much of a threat to risk it. He hopes to do a Pride fundraiser instead, and is also open to another organization stepping up and hosting an event on Saturday night.

“I can’t let these people feel they’ve gotten a  victory on this in any way whatsoever,” he said. “This will not be tolerated.”

Threats follow hate incidents and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in US and Canada

A father to an underage trans teen, who said he would prefer to remain anonymous out of concerns for privacy, told Capital Daily that he is disappointed to see the show cancelled, since there are so few all ages drag shows within the city. 

The teen felt the threats in Victoria could be inspired by recent events south of the border.

In the US, concerns over hate crimes, rhetoric, and legislation aimed at trans and queer youth have been escalating in recent months. Republican lawmakers in Texas and Florida announced plans this week to make it illegal for underage people to attend drag shows.

On Saturday, 31 members of a white nationalist group were arrested after police alleged they traveled to a town in Idaho in the hopes of disrupting its Pride festival. The police department’s chief told reporters that his officers have since been getting death threats

The disruption happened the same day men representing the Proud Boys stormed a library in California and interrupted a Drag Queen Story Hour—where drag queens read children’s stories to children—yelling homophobic and transphobic slurs.  

In May, a Statistics Canada census found that Greater Victoria had the country’s largest proportion of individuals identifying as transgender or non-binary.

But, amid a renewed moral panic, hate speech directed towards LGBTQ+ people can take place in Canada too. 

During the 2021 Canadian federal election, People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier decried “the transgender fad promoted by the Far Left.” Bernier also pledged to repeal bills C-16 and C-6. The former amended Canada’s Human Rights Code to include language around gender identity and expression, while the latter is the much-discussed ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” an outdated practice that targets LGBTQ+ folks—often youth—and attempts to change their gender or sexual identity.

An ex-PPC candidate Greg Wycliffe published a video on TikTok showing him arguing with terms like “LGBTQ youth” and “trans youth” calling the terms a “pedophile dog whistle” used to mark young people for grooming. 

Last month at the Victoria Edelweiss Club in James Bay, Bernier spoke at the Reclaiming Canada Conference—a who's who of Freedom Convoy speakers, anti-vaccine doctors, and political leaders who, over the past two years, have pushed back against pandemic measures and vaccines. 

And the same media channels that fostered the Freedom Convoy are also fuelling anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment now.

On Wednesday morning, a user on the Convoy to Ottawa 2022 Telegram channel, which has close to 30,000 subscribers, warned against events such as Drag Queen Story Hour. “We encourage you to keep an eye out for these events in your community, and rally together to put and [sic] end to this abuse of the most vulnerable, our children,” the user wrote. 

The post ended with the hashtags #HandsOffOurChildren and #DefundtheCBC.

With files from Martin Bauman and Capital Daily staff.

Update at 4:05pm: The article has been updated with VicPD's confirmation of an investigation.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Ryan Hook
Reporter, Oak Bay Local

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