‘A Night With The Queens’ drag show creates controversy in Middletown

Melissa Kutzera, left, and Monica Nenni, owners of West Central Wine show off shirts being sold to raise money for the upcoming pride parade Tuesday, April 16 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Melissa Kutzera, left, and Monica Nenni, owners of West Central Wine show off shirts being sold to raise money for the upcoming pride parade Tuesday, April 16 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

An event that celebrated the LGBT community last week created controversy in Middletown.

On Friday, “A Night With The Queens,” a drag show, was held at West Central Wine, 1120 Central Ave. A representative from the company that owns the Castell Building, where West Central Wine and other businesses lease space, said they can’t control what the tenants “do and don’t do” with their businesses.

When news spread about the drag show, several residents contacted the Journal-News to say they were concerned about the event.

MORE: Downtown Middletown businesses organizing first gay Pride event Friday

West Central is owned by two women: Mel Kutzera, who married a woman four years ago, and Monica Nenni, who is straight. They said Friday night’s event attracted about 70 patrons, 10 less than the occupancy, and about half of them were straight. Tickets, priced at $20, were sold in advance.

Kutzera said having a ticketed event assured only those who paid would be “part of the party.”

They said the three drag queens dressed in the basement, then performed throughout the bar and interacted with the customers for tips for about three hours. A second, similar drag event will be held in early May, and proceeds will benefit the city’s second PRIDE parade.

The Rev. John Wagner, pastor of First United Methodist Church, 120 S. Broad St., said the church has gay and lesbian members and supports the LGBT community. He said any restrictions against LGBT “jeopardize all of our rights.”

Wagner said protesters against gays have marched outside his church with bullhorns. He asked them to “politely leave” because they were frightening the young church members.

He believes everyone should “respect the differences” in our society and he encourages residents to “treat all people with love.”

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