The three-year anniversary of the Pulse mass shooting this past week served as a stark reminder: Persistence cannot take a break. Just a few miles from the site where 49 people lost their lives at the LGBTQ+ nightclub, and in the same week as the memorial tributes flowed, the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando was preparing a three-day “Make America Straight Again” event this weekend. Pastor Patrick Boyle told The Orlando Sentinel, “This isn’t a normal lifestyle and we are adamantly opposed to that.” He went on to say that the church wasn’t looking to “pick a fight,” which is exactly the message of such an event. It is essentially a cruel lashing out at the LGBTQ+ community during a week of reflection with many members of the city still mourning.
Resistance is strong, though, as noted in the response to Boyle’s event:
· The Lake County Sheriff’s Office denied a request from Boyle to hire off-duty deputies to work security at the church event. In a statement, the Sheriff's spokesperson said, "First, it appears as though the organization disparages homosexuals and will be targeting them during the group's conference this week. … Furthermore, the fact that the timing of this conference coincides with the three-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in nearby Orlando did not go unnoticed by our staff. We felt as though the timing of the conference is in poor taste and we chose not to allow the group to hire our deputies.”
· A Facebook notice of a protest planned against the event has dozens of people confirming their plans to stand outside the church “in a firm (yet loving) opposition to blatant discrimination and intolerance.”
"We need to send a message out that in this city — of all times, of all cities, of all time periods — we need to put a message out that love is greater and love is better," C.K. Blackwood, who is organizing a protest, told TV stations in Orlando.
The pushback by local officials and the resilience of LGBTQ+ people and allies illustrates how the compassionate response to the Pulse mass shooting lives on in the community. It takes work to sustain the love, but, as our efforts at VideoOut reveal every day, it’s worth it.