November 6th held a day of Controversy between the LGBT Community and The Focus on the Family’s ‘Love Won Out’ conference at Peoples Church.
Depending on where you sought information about the conference, you would have received mixed messages. Fresno Bee reported the upcoming event as having information on Homosexuality. Peoples Church’s website reported that the event would be focusing on those affected by homosexuality. If you were to inquire about the conference at the Love Won Out website you would receive the following information;
Focus on the Family is promoting the truth that homosexuality is preventable and treatable a message routinely silenced today. We want people to know that individuals don’t have to be gay. That’s why we’ve developed a one-day conference for those looking for answers on this often-divisive issue. Whether an educator, parent, concerned citizen or even a gay activist, Love Won Out will inform, inspire and offer hope.
Organizer Robin McGehee along with many other members, both from the LGBT community and the straight community came together to create the “Love Welcomes All” Committee which will be holding a conference in April of 2005 at Wesley United Methodist Church. The conference will focus on offering community members an alternative to on what the Bible says about homosexuality. Robin met with Baltimore Gonzalez, Fresno Chapter CO-Leader of Marriage Equality California briefly about her ideas in regard to the “Love Welcomes All” committee as well as a conference. I said “GREAT IDEA”! In the days to come there were e-mails exchanged back and forth from a few members of the LGBT community that felt that protesting a church might be perceived as disrespectful to the right to religious beliefs. I as well as Robin had to explain to many people of the community that we were not protesting the church, rather we were protesting the conference that was being held at the church. None of the signs said anything about Peoples Church. Had the conference have been held at the Piccadilly Inn, or anywhere else we would have protested as well. I had to explain to the ex-gays and people that came out to offer a passing “God bless You” that the Love Won Out conference in and of itself promoted Spiritual Hate, Spiritual Violence, and hate crimes. These were the three focuses that McGhee insisted upon and the group as a whole agreed. As I sit on the board of S.O.S., Survivors of suicide and am a survivor myself, I had to explain to many people that this conference should be taken seriously, for we have no idea what state of mind an individual is in when entering this conference that supposedly offers hope to the LGBT community and their family members, that we can somehow be changed. My concern was someone taking their lives after attending such a conference. Seems dramatic to some! The reality is that it happens all the time.
Over 100 protesters celebrating UNITY and Pride stood outside Peoples Church from 7:00a.m. until 7:00p.m. Many of whom brought bottled water, food, coffee, hot cocoa, sandwiches, signs of their own, and most of all their willingness to stand up for something they believed in! It was one of the most beautiful gatherings of the Gay Community that I have ever had the experience of being a part of. We look forward to the upcoming conference. A special thank you to everyone involved! Just to name a few; Robin for her guidance and comfort to all throughout this emotionally draining day; Leslie for providing the Krispy Kreme donuts, coffee, and hot chocolate; Becki and Brandi for providing us with sandwiches & chips for lunch; Ron Willis for providing us with goodies, loved the candies; Jason Scott, www.gayfresno.com and his husband who spent their 5th Anniversary protesting with us; Sarah for providing us with beautiful shirts; Ome and GSA for assisting with the sign making and allowing us to use their space; and most of all again, to all of the supporters who joined us and spent their Saturday with us, we love you all!
-Respectfully submitted: Baltimore Gonzalez