Toledo prideWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I would like to have my address removed from your delivery list. I had hope that we would have a balance to the far left Blade. But after reading that Toledo Free Press is the media sponsor of Toledo [disgrace] Pride I now know all hope is gone.”
— Larry D., Toledo
Do you remember that scene in the Bible when Jesus sees a group of people he perceives as sinners and yells at them that they are bad people who are damned, then screams at their children and blusters like a cawing crow?
I don’t remember that story either, but it must exist, as the protestors at the Aug. 24 Toledo Pride parade acted that way and worse, all in Jesus’ name. I believe in Jesus’ teachings of love and redemption and outreach but the sign-wielding folks calling names and throwing insults at families and children must have access to different parables and lessons than I am aware of., Adam Martin
The parade, in its third and biggest year, brought together scores of walking groups and vehicles to celebrate the LGBT community and open the Toledo Pride Festival, which brought 15,000 money-spending people to Promenade Park. There were politicians such as Mayor Mike Bell, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, judge candidate Gretchen DeBacker and Councilmen Adam Martinez, Steve Steel and Joe McNamara. Bell, Lopez and McNamara are of course mayoral candidates this year, but Bell is a veteran of the Pride parade, having served as grand marshal last year.
There were rainbow flags waving, rainbow balloons floating and more colorful prisms around than in a stack of Pink Floyd albums. Toledo Free Press was media sponsor, which upset Larry D. and killed his remaining hope (Larry must have been clinging to that hope for a while now, as this is our third year as a Toledo Pride sponsor). We were joined this year by Sid Kelly and his 92.5 KISS FM crew and Andrew Z, whose app station features LGBT channel “Rainbow.” Andrew, sporting rainbow crepe paper wrapped around the cast protecting his broken leg, seemed content to be hitched to a group of kilted ladies from Paddy Jack’s.
Toledo Pride organizers have stated that while the festival may contain rated R or X elements, the parade is a PG-13 event. The number of families and kids in the parade bore witness to that, as even the most daring transgender dressers and drag queens were at their most (relatively) restrained.
I did see one participant walking around in a T-shirt that read, “Down to F*ck,” and while I am not contesting the veracity of his convictions, I wonder if he understands that such an in-your-face article of clothing doesn’t help the mission of the parade.
For each year of the parade, I have driven our minivan in the lineup, decorating it with rainbow balloons and banners and a Toledo Free Press sign. For the first time, my wife and young boys rode along this year, passing out candy and waving to the sizeable crowd. Last year, the religious protestors yelled at me, “Toledo Sin Press! Toledo Sin Press!” a name I should probably copyright and protect in case we decide to launch such a publication. I had assumed the same protestors would leave their orphan and widow mission work to come yell at the LGBT parade again this year, and was not surprised to see them with their hellfire signs and chants of damnation.
I doubt they see the irony of waving flaming signs while marching in renaissance clothes; had they been in line and dialed back the hate a notch or 40, they would have fit right in with parade groups.
I drove the van, blasting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love.” As we approached the protestors, I had my wife and sons move their candy handout walk to my side of the van, to keep them close as we passed the haters. I wonder how Jesus would react to seeing his followers yell at 5-year-olds that they are going to burn in hell and that their parents should be ashamed and will also burn in hell, with spittle flying from the rage-filled speech crevices.
Even if you disdain gay people, even if you feel personally threatened by gay marriage, even if you believe homosexuality is a choice of perversion — even if you are in lockstep with all those thoughts — do you advocate barking at children like rabid dogs? Is that the way to spread a message of love and redemption? There were a number of church groups in the parade; I wonder how they felt about their fellow Christians stomping and screeching at them.
A few hours after the parade, I posted this message on Facebook: “To all the religious protestors at Toledo Pride today: I respect your right to your opinion and applaud your conviction in coming to the parade today to inform us of our damnation. Now, since I respect your protest, you’ll welcome me bringing a group of gay friends and drag queens to your church service tomorrow, right? Not to be saved, but to pass judgment on you and disrupt your celebration. See you Sunday.”
There were 150 “likes” and 70 responses, ranging from Ken Leslie’s “I don’t get it. The way I read the bible it says love ALL… Then down the road a piece God says HE will do the judging. Pretty clear. Now go love all” to Don Lee’s “Anytime I hear someone say ‘God will judge,’ they do so with an air of silently adding, ‘…and I can’t wait to see it’” to Mark Makovic’s “I have no respect for Christians that would be so righteous as to forecast your eternal future and in the presence of innocence, it sickens me. But I am tired of being chastised for my belief. Tolerance is the word of the day as long as you believe as I do. Otherwise, you must be filled with hate. Thousands of years of history has defined marriage in one manner. Simple anatomy would suggest that a finite combination of genitalia was by some measure of design. Are we prepared to discount procreation. While I would fight for your right not to be persecuted for being gay, I am not simpithetic [sic] to the extent that I have to agree with you. I tire of liberalism, the belief that your viewpoint must be excepted [sic]or you are certainly wrong all in the name of diversty [sic].”
It is an ongoing conversation that will never progress as long as there is so much hate and ignorance involved.
Speaking of hate and ignorance, Larry D., we have taken you off the delivery list. And since you are anxious to separate yourself from an organization that supports the LGBT community, here is a convenient list of many of this year’s sponsors and supporters so you can make sure you steer clear of their businesses, too:
- Gallon, Tackas, Boissoneault & Schaffer law firm
- The Loonar Station
- Hollywood Casino Toledo
- Ripcord Bar
- Toledo Community Foundation
- Sandpiper Boat
- Owens Community College
- Bretz Nightclub
- Kahler Pharmacy
- University of Toledo
- Cousino Harris Disaster Kleenup
- Yark Fiat
- Reve Salon and Spa
- Pita Pit
- Monroe Dodge Superstore
- The Head Shed
- R House Bar
- Owens Corning
- Lions Den
- Skylight Financial Group
And for all the Jesus-lovin’, gay-hatin’ folks, here are the local churches you will want to avoid; these houses of worship are LGBT friendly, and you wouldn’t want to catch gay from the pews:
- Central United Methodist
- Center for Conscious Living
- Faith in Christ Ministries
- First Unitarian Church of Toledo
- Holy Cross Reformed Catholic Church
- St. Lucas Lutheran Church
- Trinity Episcopal Church
- Unity of Toledo
- University Church
- Village Church
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at mmiller@toledo freepress.com.