This past weekend was the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade, and as always with large-scale gay events, a group of antigay Christians turned up to yell at everybody. I spent the day with them.
The day got off to a pretty miserable start, with the guy with the mic screaming, "You're a wicked, evil, twisted abomination! You deserve AIDS!" at this old man.
Then this lone counterprotester showed up.
His sign read "St. Paul was a closet case" and he was shouting a bunch of stuff at them about pork: "Why don't you get a fucking life you pork-eating fucking pigs, I hope the Muslims blow you motherfuckers up and you burn in hell you fucking pigs."
The curse words seemed to genuinely upset the antigays. One of them started shouting, "There's laws against cussing in public! It's illegal for you to say the F word to me!"
Then the police came over and broke it up, making the counterprotester go and protest from the end of the block.
Then the second group of counterprotesters arrived. These guys had giant rainbow flags that they held up in front of the antigay protest to block them from the view of anyone marching in the parade.
Even though they'd only been there for about 30 minutes, the majority of the protesters seemed pretty bored by that point. I got to chatting with this lady.
She told me that her name was Angela, and that she liked my shirt. I almost reciprocated the compliment out of politeness, but then I realized that her shirt said "REPENT FOR JESUS" and stopped myself.
Then we chatted about what she and the other protesters would be snacking on throughout the day. She said that the year before, they'd had Twinkies, but since they'd gone out of business, she'd decided to buy everyone Buffalo Blue Cheese Combos. She hoped that everyone would enjoy them.
It was not dissimilar to talking to a friend's mom.
Minutes later, she was at the mic spewing out vicious bile: "Oklahoma had a tornado a day after the pride parade! It was God's punishment! You need to put a tornado on your rainbow flag!" The transformation was astounding.
Weirdly, she was also hypersensitive to swearing. After she got through telling the crowd that they deserved AIDS and were going to get raped by the Devil in a pit of fire for eternity, she said to me, "People say we're the bad guys, but the gays are the ones flipping the bird."
Blaming natural disasters and stuff on the gays was a pretty common theme throughout the day. The Westboro Baptist Church's tactic of saying the most outlandish, nastiest shit possible seems to have been a major game changer in the antigay protest world. The "preachers" were pretty much just trolls—everything they said sounded like it was designed to provoke a reaction from people rather than engage in dialogue or even attempt to convert homosexuals and their allies to Christ.
The majority of it was entry-level lip-flapping, the kind stuff that even the most casual internet user would roll their eyes at. Like saying this to a group of lesbians: "If you made as much noise in the kitchen with pots and pans as you did shouting at me now with your mouths, maybe you'd have a man."
Some people, like the ladies in the photo above, would occasionally take the bait and scream at them for a minute. But eventually they'd get bored and wander off to go do something fun instead.
I've always, on some level, felt a little sorry for antigay protesters. I've occasionally thought that they're just misguided—that they cared so much about saving sinners from hell that they're willing to make themselves the subject of almost every rational person's anger just to get their message across.
Spending the day with these guys got those thoughts out of my head. According to their website, they were there to try and convert sinners. But I saw no evidence of that. They have no interest in passing on a message to anyone. They were there because they're homophobes who enjoy upsetting people for fun.
For instance, when this guy walked past, the dude with the beard shouted, "Your mother is ashamed of you" at him.
This clearly struck a nerve, and the guy immediately flew into a rage. He started trying to hop the barriers to fight them, screaming, "DON'T BRING MY MOTHER INTO THIS! SHE WAS A CANCER SURVIVOR YOU PIECE OF SHIT!" At one point, while crying, he had to be held back by the police.
Then beard guy, from the safety of his police-protected protest pen, shouted, "Your mother is burning in hell," while grinning the smuggest, shit-eating-est grin that has ever been grinned. The other antigays around him laughed.
One antigay protester I spoke to said that yelling at gay events is his full-time job thanks to church donations. So maybe traveling for free on other people's dime is their real motivation. I don't know.
Most of the antigays were older, but there were a couple of young people.
These two almost came off as human. They seemed genuinely hurt by the abuse that was being hurled at them. The girl spent most of the day looking like she was on the verge of tears, and occasionally would move over to one side and have reasonable, quiet conversations with the pride marchers.
For a moment I almost empathized with them. Maybe they really were just trying to help people in an extremely misguided way. But then I realized that there are a billion other "sins" out there that they could be objecting to (for instance, women wearing pants and protesting) and they were probably just pretending to be human in a calculated move to manipulate people into feeling bad for them.
I spoke to the girl at one point and she said, "I'm not doing this to hurt people. I have a lot of gay friends and I love them all."
If her gay friends A) actually exist and are B) reading this: What the fuck are you guys doing? Ditch her ASAP. There are like, 7 billion people on Earth. Cut this idiot out of your life.
And that was pretty much everything exciting that happened during the whole six hours we were there. The antigays would take turns talking on the mic and yell a bunch of stuff about HIV and hellfire and Sodom and Gomorrah and blah blah blah.
I felt a bit bad for the guy pictured above. I think he may have been a bit special and had been allowed into their protest because they needed more warm bodies to make up the numbers. When he took the mic, he just sort of stood there shouting out antigay buzzwords like, "HOT! BURN! AIDS! JUDGEMENT! AIDS! HOT! BURN!" It was pretty awkward.
Earlier I mentioned that some people would get sucked in by the antigay camp's trolling and engage with them. But that was maybe like, 0.0001 percent of the people who walked by.
The majority of gays seemed to just view the antigays as a kind of amusing sideshow. They would stop for a second and do a kind of "LOL, these guys!" eye roll before getting on with their day.
It's like when an elderly, senile relative says something racist because Will Smith is on the TV and the whole family just chuckles and says, "Oh, Grandma!" It's more adorably archaic than actually offensive.
Getting a hilairs FB pic of yourself in front of the antigays is fast becoming a pride essential. Like promotional stickers and Rihanna remixes.
Some people even premade their own wacky signs to pose with.
The antigays had absolutely no effect on the actual pride parade itself. Possibly because this is what the protest looked like from the parade route (it's that little black square you see in the distance).
Side note: I'm not sure when it happened, but it seems that gay-pride marches are no longer about celebrating gayness, but rather about marketing to LGBTs. Almost everyone marching in the parade was there to promote something. I saw people marching for department stores and banks and fast-food chains and chips and iPhone apps and TV shows and fucking Transformers the Ride 3D.
Eventually, after spending way too long having to fill time by preaching into the mic, the protesters began to lose steam.
They started just saying whatever random shit came into their heads. Like this guy, who shouted at a group of lesbians that women should start leaving the toilet seat up, rather than expecting men to put it down. Which I feel has probably more to do with something that's happening in his personal life than anything the Bible says.
When the LGBT social security workers marched by, he shouted, "There's no social security in heaven, sickos!"
When a guy drinking a Starbucks iced coffee walked past, he yelled, "Go suck on your green straw, you liberal!"
They weren't even trying anymore.
Then the parade ended, and everyone started heading toward the big party, meaning foot traffic increased past the protest site.
The police moved in to form a human barricade. But it turned out to be unnecessary. People still just laughed at the antigays, flipped them off, or took pictures.
And that was it. The gays all left to go to their big party, and the antigays packed away their giant Bible to move on to the next parade or rally.
Good job guys, you're doing important work.
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