Celebrants, Protestors Attend PrideFest In Springfield, MO

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.
One holy roller told KSPR TV:

“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

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  • Chas

    Very few Christians know that Jesus had a favorite, a man, whom He loved most.

    Was Jesus gay? This cannot be answered, but fundamentalists, evangelicals, and other spiritually uncomfortable people find frank discussion of these verses intolerable.

    This can be useful.

    John 21:20

    Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true…


  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    Not to mention that Jesus NEVER mentions gayness, though He has a lot to say on divorce. And that Jesus healed the ‘pais’ (= boy) of the Roman Centurion who came to him.

    The Christian-Fascists should be called Paulists, because they most certainly aren’t Christian.

  • venomous-viper

    I lived in this God Forsaken place for awhile and can only imagine the Fundamentalist that were pounding the pavement. If people really want to know what oppression is move to one of these mid-western red neck towns :-(

  • B

    No. 2 · Nick Thiwerspoon “The Christian-Fascists should be called Paulists, because they most certainly aren’t Christian.”

    It is more complicated – there’s some scholarly debate about which letters Paul actually wrote and which ones were written by others in his name.

    Read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dominic-crossan/apostle-paul-letters_b_890387.html for an overview.

    BTW, it was common in early Christianity for people to write something an call it things like the Gospel According to X, where X was some listed disciple chosen perhaps because nobody else had yet attributed something to him. It was simply an attempt to make someone’s random thoughts more credible sounding. There’s a whole bunch of these, most of which were “pruned” with the ones that appear in the Bible being more or less picked by a committee (Constantine wanted to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, and he wanted a small set of beliefs that would be common to all, not a rag-tag collection of more or less independent sects each with their own beliefs).

  • DragonScorpion

    @venomous-viper: You know, this area is certainly cursed with uptight, ultra-conservative, ultra-religious bigots, but the turnout of the type wasn’t nearly what I expected. Granted, I wasn’t there for the entire event, I was only there for the last half, but the guys with the cross was still there when I showed up, and they left not long afterward. (Incidentally, they seemed to leave the same time the local news crews did…)

    I hadn’t been to the local pridefest in several years, but I thought this was a good one overall. Unlike past events, this wasn’t at some vacant lot next to the local gay support organization building, it wasn’t at a park that has a reputation for being ‘the gay park’, it was at the main square in town. Shops, bars, clubs, restaurants all around. This isn’t the seedy side of town. That may not be big news for the city, but for here that’s progress. Not having anti-gay news coverage was a step up.

    I was impressed seeing a couple of burly bikers walking around, with Christian symbols on their leather vests. They were, as far as I know straight, just showing solidarity. Ready to deal with any haters that might want to start something.

    What I saw this year, and didn’t see, I wouldn’t have expected 5 years ago.

    I have my reasons for staying around here. But that aside, I think it’s important for our community overall that we don’t all move to the city, to convenient gay enclaves. Those of us who stay in places like this force the bigots to not have the satisfaction of running us off, and we expose the folks who have the potential to accept us given positive exposure to do so.

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  • Kent

    Go Mr. St. Clair! Stand up for what you believe in!

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