I’m not disappointed in this year’s Pride Festival not because it had to be moved from Piedmont Park. Yes, I was disappointed not to be IN the Park, but I thought the Atlanta Pride Committee did an amazing job translating the usual Park Pride into the Atlantic Civic Center.
I’m also not disappointed that it rained throughout the whole parade on Sunday. I saw a bunch of people who spent a lot of time on make-up and costumes marching or floating right along, rain be damned. And I stood there in the rain for the whole parade. If they could take it, so could I. Besides, I’m as bald as a billiard ball so I didn’t have a ‘do to worry about and I gave my umbrella to the woman standing next to me.
I’m disappointed in this year’s Pride because I spent chunks of the last year marshaling all the ammunition I could find to stand toe-to-toe with all the religious protesters and talk them down! And I didn’t see the dozens that irk me annually..,yes, please note the ‘u’ in that word! I saw a mere handful of protesters and they were dessicated, ineffective wannabes compared to last year’s crop of hatemongers.
I wondered why there was a dearth of homophobic protesters. This was Pride weekend in Atlanta, same as – not the same as always. Our Pride celebration is held traditionally the last full weekend in June, to coincide with the High Holy Day of June 28th. Due to the drought, Pride was moved away from the Park. No venues capable of hosting Pride were available the last weekend in June, so we had to change the date to the following weekend. Fourth of July weekend.
I had a thought that maybe our souls weren’t worth saving in July. It’s as good a thought as any. But I think bullhorning bullshit in 90+ weather, surrounded by hostile homos can’t hold a candle to a pulled pork samich, tater salad and a cold beer. Our souls were forsaken for barbecue!
Last year, I cheerfully, and sometimes not so cheerfully, told every homophobic protester that they were nothing more than ignorant, self-loathing homophobes. I believed it but it was I who was ignorant for thinking they’d understand me. The vilifications flew high above their heads.
The previous year I simply, calmly and quietly told all who attempted to approach me that they were going to hell for the sin of hate. It surprised a few. One young guy tried to hand me a pamphlet I had accepted and read earlier that day from someone else. When I rejected his offer, I said politely that I had read it. He looked at me, incredulous. “You did?!”
“Yes, I always read things thoroughly before I denounce them as moronic hatemongering.” His eyebrow puckered with confusion.
I should write on the chalkboard 500 times: I must speak in monosyllables to homophobic religious protesters. And I really must. I want them to understand everything I say.
This year, for some reason, I was itching to have a battle of words with Billy Ball and his Sons of Thunder... excuse me, Sons of Thundr. No ‘e.’ Ball, of Faith Baptist Church in Primrose, GA, is a perennial nuisance on the corners of 10th & Piedmont. BTW, I asked Santa for a bullhorn last Christmas and I didn’t get one. To whom do I complain about that?
Last year, in falsely jovial voices, Ball and the Sons of Thundr used bullhorns to banter with each other, corner to corner. “Your fa-ther wasn’t a homo-SEX-ual and your mo-ther wasn’t a homo-SEX-ual, or YOU wouldn’t be here!” Well, lordy be, heterosexual math on street corners. Apparently they think gay sperm cannot fertilize an egg! Maybe he never heard of the Church of Scientology. It’s possible. Worse, Ball thinks Sons of Thundr is a good Christian name for his group.
Alternately, it irks and amuses me that so many people profess their Christianity loudly and don’t behave a thing like Jesus. It’s like saying you’re a devout Orthodox Jew while you’re chasing down a pork chop with a shrimp cocktail!
The Sons of Thunder to which Ball’s group refers are the apostles James and John, who, when they were not greeted with the same courtesies generally afforded travelers in a Samaritan village, called out to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” No, Jesus did not. Even Orthodox Jews know Jesus preached peace and tolerance, they just don’t believe in him as their savior. I don’t believe in Billy Ball as my savior.
So Ball, in choosing that reference to name his street ministry, is embracing violence toward people who don’t believe in Ball’s work and that is counter to what Jesus preached. Nothing like Jesus, but calls himself a Christian. Real Christians ought to sue to keep him from misusing the faith!
My one verbal intercourse at this year’s Pride was with a young guy who told me I needed to be reborn to save my soul. That’s so tired. Unfortunately, it was no less tired than my response, “I got it right the first time!” Then he tried to tell me that I needed to read the bible and I didn’t give him a chance to finish. I told him I had a bible and I read it often. Bullies back down when confronted and Junior Thumper did, too. For all my reading and note-taking, that was my sole anti-protester outlet.
For every Gays Are An Abomination sign, I wanted to remind them that shaving was an abomination, too. So was eating shellfish! Let’s not even talk about eating meat from animals with cloven hooves! And children who disobey their parents? They’re to be put to death. Really. It’s all there in Leviticus.
I read scholarly and some not-so-scholarly articles on Leviticus. It was a set of laws and admonishments for Jews in Exile in Babylon. Wha-what? It’s true. Culturally, Babylonians had very different behaviors and tolerances than Jews did. The Jews weren’t judging them. Leviticus was a list of do’s and don’ts to keep Jews true to their faith while in a non-Jewish land of temptations.
There is one admonishment against same-sex sex and over a dozen about heterosexual incest. That’s a telling thing about ancient Babylonians. Since I’m not a Jew, and not in exile, Levitical statutes, laws and admonishments don’t apply to me. And those who try to condemn us are using one Levitical admonishment to do it and ignoring all the others. Someone has the coolest icon on their LiveJournal blog. It’s an animated .gif that goes through all the things I listed here and ends with “Use one, use them all. K?” I was soooo ready to use them all.
I’ll be able to use them next year. I have the fantasy that I and three others, toting bullhorns, will be talking back to Billy Ball and his gang on the corners of Piedmont and 10th, with arguments from the Bible.
Anyone want to join me?
(BTW, if you go to www.sonsofthundr.com and scroll through main page, look at the pictures of Billy Ball, tell me it doesn't look like he's sporting a gay goattee in half those pics!)