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Daily Journal
     June 14, 2021      #38-165 KDJ

Friendship Festival performance sparks social

By Taylor Leddin

BOURBONNAIS — The Bourbonnais Friendship Festival — scheduled for June 23 to 27 — became a topic of social media discussion Saturday as a post from a scheduled performer of Bourbonnais Has Talent gained attention due to her claim that she was removed from the performance schedule for being transgender.

Pat Polk, the festival organizer of the talent show, denies the claim, saying instead that this was a miscommunication and that Chanel Taylor will be performing.

Taylor, who had been a scholarship winner of the annual Bourbonnais Has Talent competition, shared on Facebook: “The performance for June 23rd at the Friendship Festival has been canceled due to me being a trans woman. They don’t want the backlash from the Bourbonnais Community.”

After the post received a large number of comments and shares, the festival publicly responded on the event’s Facebook page.

“The Bourbonnais Friendship Festival would like to reinforce its commitment to being a community event welcoming all ages, races, creeds, colors, genders, sexual orientations and religions. We do not condone nor support any type of discrimination.”

Shortly after this post was made, it was announced that Taylor would be performing, with the event page sharing, “We are pleased to announce that Chanel Taylor will perform on the West Stage on Saturday June 26 before the Bourbonnais Has Talent winners are announced!”

Polk said Saturday evening, “I have no clue [where the confusion came from]. When I heard about it, I told [someone] to have Chanel call me.”

“I just finished talking to Chanel,” Polk continued. “We got it settled and she will be performing.”

Polk had initially told Taylor that “she wouldn’t be able to perform Wednesday, but she could perform any other day.” She added, “Chanel had won the Idol competition a couple of years ago before going away to college. So it’s expected that [winners] come back to perform.”

Taylor said that she has been back to perform in the years following her win.

“When Ms. Polk called me, they wanted me to perform as a VIP special guest at the opening night, Thursday,” Taylor said. “Then she had to make sure that everything was set up correctly, and she called me the other day to inform me — now, this is not [Polk’s] words at all — her boss told her that they wouldn’t be able to allow me to perform due to my costuming and makeup because of kids [in the audience] and the backlash in the community.”

Taylor said she was unsure of who Polk was referring to when relaying that information. When asked about the costuming and makeup, Polk said, “I don’t know what costume she had selected, I have no clue. I don’t think we really even talked about clothes.”

Costuming would be limited for Wednesday night’s event as it will be a tribute to those who have passed away over the last year, Polk said, adding that costumes on the west stage have to be appropriate for families as well.

“On the west stage, I have kids, so I want [performers’ costumes] to be appropriate,” she continued.

Taylor shared, “I would like to thank everybody for their support and their love and their kids because this is something that, not only does the LGBTQA+ community go through, it’s also in different cultures like the Black Lives movement, as well. So, I just want to thank everybody for being there to support a Black transgender woman.”

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