On Saturday, nearly 2,000 people gathered in Park Central Square in downtown Springfield, Missouri for the Greater Ozarks PrideFest
, the region’s annual celebration of the gay community.
There were speeches, music, poetry readings, drag queens—even a performance from the musical Rent
It might sound like any number of Pride events going on across the country but in Missouri, LGBT people have few legal protections: You can be kicked off a city bus, fired from a job, even denied a place to live because of your sexuality or gender representation.
“People of gay, lesbian and transgendered lifestyles should have the right to do whatever they want to do. Just like me and you,” said George Davis, chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations, who tries unsuccessfully to add sexual orientation to a list of the city’s protected classes. “It’s an embarrassment and it’s a disappointment. It’s truly a sign of poor leadership. This is something that’s been dealt with in the ’70s. The fact that Springfield hasn’t dealt with it today is inexcusable.”
Not everyone in town feels that way. In years past, neo-Nazi groups have protested the event and, on Saturday, evangelical Christians were there to show sinners the way and the light.
“To say they are ‘born that way,’ it’s just not true. It’s just something just like anything else; they need to make the decision to act on it or not to act on it,” said Brad St. Clair, evangelist with Repent and Turn. “The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, [just like] adultery and fornication and lying and hatred and murder. So it’s just that—just one sin that the Bible says that those who do so will go to Hell.”
St. Clair held a wooded cross for most of the festival and would get all sorts of reactions for his viewpoints.
“People have come out and told us, ‘Thank you, it takes a lot of boldness to stand up and be a witness to Christ.’ And other people, of course they’re angry,” St. Clair said smiling. “Sometimes people just want to live how they want to live and they don’t want to have to answer to God. I just want everyone to know that God loves them and he sent Jesus to die on the cross for their sins, so they can go to Heaven.”
Gee, thanks, you shouldn’t have. No, seriously—stop.
No one asked us if we wanted someone to die on a cross for our sins. We really wish the religious right would stop laying that at our feet. We get enough guilt from our mom for not calling enough