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Wisconsin bakery continues Pride Month fundraisers despite backlash

Batter & Mac have raised nearly $7K for queer youth in Milwaukee

Kasey Gusho and Brittany Wohlfeil stand outside the bakery they co-own in Menomonee Falls on June 5, 2024. Margaret Faust/WPR

A bakery in Menomonee Falls installed extra security cameras after some community members threatened to harm the business and its owners. 

The family-owned bakery Batter & Mac in Menomonee Falls is hosting five fundraisers for queer youth in Milwaukee during Pride Month. So far the business has raised approximately $7,000 for Courage MKE, an organization that provides housing to queer youth. 

Support increased after the business received “angry phone calls (and) threatening messages” online and over the phone. When the co-owners Kasey Gusho and Brittany Wohlfeil first announced a drag queen story hour for June 2, people who didn’t agree with the event called them “groomers and pedophiles.”

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“It was a little scary for a minute,” Wohlfeil said. “There were some messages that were pretty threatening about like putting our heads on stakes or making sure we’re 6 feet under.”

The original social media post advertising the event was removed due to safety concerns. 

The owners temporarily canceled the event but ended up hosting the story hour and cupcake decorating event at a different location. Supporters took to Facebook to applaud the owners for continuing despite the threats.

Demand was so high, Gusho and Wohlfeil added three more fundraisers for Courage MKE over the next two months, including drag queen bingo nights.  

“It’s important to be good allies,” Wohlfeil said. “And to be a good ally, you have to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for that community and show up for them even when it’s a little scary.”

Screenshots of a Facebook post from the bakers show Menomonee Falls Village Trustee Ann Lessila questioning why the event would bring a drag performer named Lucinda Reer to an event for children. In another post she wrote, “spread the word.”

In response to questions from WPR, Lessila said, “The public deserved to know that it was ‘Loose In Da Rear’ that would be decorating cupcakes with the kids.”

A cease and desist letter sent by a lawyer representing Batter & Mac asked Lessila to retract her comments.

“But your intentional efforts to malign a local and women-owned small business and to marginalize LGBTQ+ people in the process is improper and deceitful,” the letter said.

People also spoke out against the bakery’s event during a Village of Menomonee Falls Board of Trustees meeting on May 20. Many thanked members of the board who took a similar stance. 

Jesse Simcox, Wisconsin chapter leader for Gays Against Groomers, said the event was sexually exploitive. 

“Now for what purpose would a transvestite need to read a book to children?” Simcox said during the meeting. “There are so many other ways to teach children kindness and acceptance.”

A cease and desist letter was also sent to Simcox.

Customers enjoy pastries at Batter & Mac on June 5, 2024. Margaret Faust/WPR

The money from the fundraisers is going to Courage MKE, an organization that provides resources including housing, scholarships, personal care kits and other resources for queer youth in the city, especially those who are unhoused or have aged out of the foster care system. 

“We feel a sense of responsibility to give back in any way that we can. And we were raised to be charitable and to use our privilege and our voice to stand up for people,” Wohlfeil said. 

According to the National Network for Youth, LGBTQ+ youth were more than twice as likely than other groups to have experienced homelessness

Only 66 percent of Wisconsin’s trans youth reported feeling safe at school, compared to 83 percent of cisgender, heterosexual youth, according to research by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Since the criticism online, Gusho and Wohlfeil said business has picked up. At first, it was hard to keep up with the influx of orders.

Rey Moreno came to the bakery Wednesday with friends to show support. They said as a nonbinary person, Batter & Mac is a safe space.

“We can be here and not worry about having insults thrown at us or getting weird looks or stares,”  Moreno said.

That’s Gusho’s goal.

“We’re just trying to put smiles on people’s faces, not only with bakery, but just with being a place in the community that people can feel welcomed and safe,” Gusho said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Menomonee Falls Village Trustee Ann Lessila’s original Facebook post.