Even in some of the bluest, long-standing Democratic states in the nation, anti-LGBTQ hate is still far more common than we might want to believe. One recent example? As covered by local outlet WBZ 4, a marquee outside of a church in Medford, Massachusetts, horrified community members and resulted in peaceful protests. LGBTQ+ allies and advocates marched on one side of the street while some church members stood in front of the church and sang from the Bible.
The sign appears outside of the New England Baptist Church and reads: “MALE AND FEMALE/CREATED HE THEM./GEN 5:2/GENDER IDENTITY SOLVED.” Joseph Hawkins, the pastor of the church, stands by the message and describes it as “God’s truth.” He argues that this sign is a means of trying to “reveal” the “truth” to their community. LGBTQ+ folks are, unsurprisingly, feeling excluded and unsure how safe the neighborhood actually is for them.
First, here’s what people are saying on Twitter, including some clips from the protest.
“The sign itself isn’t being inclusive,” Jonathan Dallas, who is openly nonbinary, told the outlet. “And it’s not the representation of Medford.” Dallas brought up, for example, their concern that someone might follow them and “try something” while they’re just trying to walk down the street like everybody else.
In speaking to Wicked Local, Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, who participated with about 30 or 40 other people in the protest, said they rallied together to show that “Medford is a place where people should feel safe, accepted, and that they belong equally.” Lungo-Koehn added that the message the church is trying to push is unacceptable.
On the flip side, Hawkins insists it’s “almost hypocritical” that nonbinary folks can share their “world view” and the church “can’t.”
“The church is going out of their way to be hateful,” Greg Lane, a nonbinary person who participated in the protest told Wicked Local. “And even though we can’t change their mind, this is just the beginning of youth leadership in Medford.”
In addition to the mayor, Medford City Councilors Nicole Morell and Zac Bears, and mayoral candidate John Falco joined the protest, as reported by Boston.com.
You can check out some video coverage from the protest via YouTube below.