Des Plaines Theatre cancels 'Awake Illinois' event after alleged threats from LGBTQ activists

A culture war in the suburbs, as a conservative group's event was canceled after alleged threats from LGBTQ activists.

Five-hundred people were expected to attend the event next month. The theater operator says there were strong opinions on both sides, but it was best to go in a different direction.

The event, — titled "Coalition for Kids" — was originally scheduled for Feb. 8 at the Des Plaines Theatre but has since been canceled. It was slated to include a number of panelists with their mission "to transform the conversation on issues affecting children."


This past Tuesday, a heated discussion took place inside the Des Plaines City Council meeting after more than two dozen residents stood in solidarity opposing the event. Critics were calling "Awake Illinois" a hate group and anti-gay organization.

The downtown theater is owned by the city of Des Plaines, but is run by Ron Onesti. He says he received many threats about hosting the event and it was best to terminate the agreement.

"There were a lot of threats…just mean and nasty things. I'm not for or against the situation. I was just proud of the fact that I had the opportunity to provide a venue and forum where these conversations could be had," Onesti said.

In a post on social media announcing the canceled event, Aware Illinois leaders said, "Donations welcome to help us secure our very own 1st Amendment Arena for events. The time is now for free speech."

FOX 32 Chicago reached out to Awake Illinois for comment and have not yet heard back.