By Theresa D. McClellan
GIFT’s Faith Advocacy Coordinator
“Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign Coordinator
These are the only words to describe the actions and non-action at the Gay Day celebration in a Grand Rapids neighborhood park where Bible-toting characters spewed hate and violence toward women and anyone within earshot.
On Saturday Aug. 4 the East Hills Neighborhood Association organized “Gay Day,” as a day to recognize and celebrate diversity, the current and historical presence of gays in their community, and an inclusive spirit.
The family-friendly event featured food, local bands and educational booths about organizations such as the National Organization for Women and TEAM (Tolerance, Equality and Awareness Movement). Our Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) “Gay Christian? Yes!” table was scheduled to be there, but a family crisis kept me away.
Unfortunately, nothing deterred protestors from “Gay Day” in Cherry Park. But this was a different kind of protest. These “protestors” made vile threats against some of the women in the park, threatened to rape them and cited Bible passages as support for their threats. Other women reported that the men suggested someone should put a bullet in their head. Much of this vitriol was caught on video and audio tape.
This goes far beyond free speech. This is hate speech. Violent-inciting speech. Fear-inducing speech. The kind of speech that if not slammed as unacceptable and unfitting of anyone purporting to be a person of faith, is seen as acquiescence. These characters can be dismissed as fringe, and attention seekers, but their message of Biblically supported violence and hate leaves a stench in the air that has to be addressed.
The Bible can and has been used to support violence and dismissal of women, foreigners, blacks. As a follower of Christ, I use the Bible to show expressions of God’s love for all and to share the Christ message of celebration, acceptance and inclusion of all that God has made.
I am calling on other followers of Christ to reject and dismiss these Bible-toting characters and their message of oppression and hate which marred the day in the park.
Silence is unacceptable.
If silence is allowed to be the norm in this community, the Grand Rapids Police Department would feel no compulsion to change their stance and say they would now investigate the matter.
Initially, the GRPD said there was nothing they could do, despite video evidence of threats. Police allegedly said threats could be taken seriously if they were made over the phone. Really?
That response led people in the LGBT community to relay ,through social media, other acts of violence against them that were allegedly ignored by police. This created a sense that not everyone deserves police protection. Again, unacceptable.
But members of NOW and TEAM and yes GIFT’s “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign are raising their voices to say the violence and threats of violence are unacceptable in this community.
I have a special message to my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally brothers and sisters of faith.
The days of “just sitting with it” because you think no one hears you or sees you, or will stand with you in solidarity, are over.
For too long we have sat silently in church pews, in classrooms, in public places, where others have felt it was their right to create an atmosphere of shame and fear.
Because you raised your voices as victims of oppression, and as oppressors of oppression a light has been shined on this community. We will continue to hold up that light.
We will not be dimmed.
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Faith & Sexuality Series: Engaging our Sacred Texts
Join us for a Faith & Sexuality Series during our GRITS adult meetings on Wednesday evenings during the month of February. This series will be lead by Gregory Eran Gronbacher, a gay Jewish man with a passion for theological study and discourse.
We will be encouraged to engage the Scriptures in new ways and glean from the perspectives of one another. This series is sponsored by the Gay Christian? Yes! campaign and GIFT. It is free and open to the public!
Dates: 2/5, 2/12, 2/19, and 2/26
Location: 207 E. Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(Turn North onto Barclay, turn into the top parking lot and head down to the bottom parking lot. The door is closest to the sidewalk on Fulton.)
Identify. Tell me why. GCY!
Need to create your video? All it takes is a webcam and five minutes of your time.
Using YouTube (or another preferred video hosting site), you record a web or phone cam video of yourself. Just tell us who you are. LGBT+? Ally?
Tell me why.
Explain why the “Gay Christian? Yes!” message resonates with you. What is your story? How do you find yourself reconciling your spiritual walk, your involvement in a church community, and the various other aspects of your humanity? Allies too! What message of hope can you offer your Christian LGBT friends and neighbors?
Affirm that you are among those who unconditionally recognize the sacred worth of each person and fully welcome all into the life and community of the church by saying “Gay Christian? Yes!” and/or by making a whimsical sign with the GCY name and website to hold up at the end of your video
Submit a link to your video at Facebook.com/GayChristianYes
or via email:
More helpful hints can be found by clicking on "Videos" above, and then on "How to Upload and Share your video"
Make your video today, and join the many voices proclaiming:
"Gay Christian? YES!"
Donate to the Campaign
The “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign needs your financial support. Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) runs the Campaign. GIFT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. US donations are eligible for tax deduction. Send your check to
207 East Fulton
Grand Rapid, MI 49503
Or donate by credit card by clicking on this button:
Note that your donation is for the GCY Campaign.
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