A small group of us, from the church I attend, but not a church “sponsored” activity, embarked upon an outreach to show love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters at the Phoenix Pride Parade last Saturday. We made a bunch of signs, got there early, and scoped out some prime real estate along the parade path.
I did not know what to expect, but right from the onset, we were on the opposite side of a bunch of “Christians” that were broadcasting a different message.
They had a loudspeaker and were bellowing obnoxious hate, nonstop. Even taking turns with the microphone, blasting every imaginable (and some novel ones I hitherto had not heard) epithet. With graphic details of the satanic bogeyman they conjured up. Berating the festive crowd and crowing in the most execrable manner possible, the fiery doom that awaited the joyous celebrants. Several times I walked over to that side, showed both sides of my sign (the front read “God loves you, I do too”), told them that Jesus and I loved them, and even blew a few kisses their way. And in reply, I was chastised and told to “burn in hell”, and called all sorts of names, like “homo”, “faggot” and others even less delightful.
Eventually, a large truck rolled up next to us, unfurled some big speakers, and soon, booming music drowned out the hate spewing from across the way.
I do not think I have ever hugged and embraced as many people as I did this day. We were met with love, gratitude and appreciation. Even prayer was shared. Again, we were not there to make a political stand, but to simply show love to our LGBT brothers and sisters (or anyone there, celebrating or protesting). To also listen and express empathy for how some in the church have treated them. For weathering condemnation and injustice.
I wish I would have snapped more photos — there was so much more fitting imagery to capture. Though, many requested photos with us, or just snapped them of us holding our signs. I believe there are a plenitude of pictures of us up in online photo buckets elsewhere. There were some people filming the goings-on in the midst of us, and several in our party agreed to be interviewed, but I let the words on my sign do my speaking.
I sensed a spirit of love, peace and joy here. Well, except for the obscene shouting from those casting hate. But, while it bothered others, I was prepared for their appearance, and wished to greet them in love too.