Features

Taking it to the streets

"Taking it to the streets" Continued...

Issue: "All heart," July 14, 2007

Other divisions included floats from local businesses, strolling representatives from colleges such as Princeton, Yale, Pratt, and NYU, and a grab bag of groups that didn't fit in elsewhere, including Polyamorous NYC and the NYC Gay Men's Chorus. The Chorus, preceded by barely decent men with signs such as "Start spreading the nudes" and "If I can be naked here, I can be naked anywhere," was one of the most popular groups as it sang, block after block, the Frank Sinatra tribute to the city.

The Chorus displayed, as did most of the other marchers, a combination of in-your-face power and singing/dancing celebration. Their message and that of the entire parade was, New York City is ours. Let us rejoice and be glad. And yet, as the parade was beginning, in a Greenwich Village church and perhaps hundreds of others across the city that did not send delegations to the day's festivities, a different song rose up: "Let us love and sing and wonder, let us praise the Savior's name. . . . He has washed us with His blood, He has brought us nigh to God."

Bullhorn battle

From a Fifth Avenue/42nd St. corner the big sign on the opposite corner was clear, although the person who carried it on a pole was back in a pack of parade-watchers. The sign stated, "Homosexuality is sin. Christ can set you free." Good, I thought: It might be better to note that all of us are sinners in various ways, but since this is a gay parade it's right to specify this particular sin, in a way that lays out the positive message of Christ's power. It's good that a lone, gutsy individual was standing there, not ranting at marchers but reminding them of something higher and nobler that they may once have known and since put aside.

But after slowly working my way to the other side, I saw the holder of the big sign yelling at a marcher, "You're going to die, pervert." He had eight companions, two women and six men who took turns yelling at those gaily strolling by, "You're going to hell, sodomite" or "You're an abomination in the sight of God." The companions carried smaller placards in King James English about "anything that defileth" and "whatsoever worketh abomination."

All the men wore long-sleeve shirts, mostly plaid, in contrast with the T-shirted crowd. A short man brandished and sometimes used a bullhorn, but even with it could rarely be heard above the crowd noise. The signs, though, attracted attention. Some marchers walked close to the sidewalk and kissed each other, guy/guy and gal/gal. When the protesters typically responded, "You're going to hell, sodomite," the marchers often responded, "Happy gay pride to homophobes." Some used obscenities.

The NYC Gay Men's Chorus leader yelled, "Make some noise to drown them out," and the crowd did. One onlooker I questioned said that the parade was about "love," yet protesters were showing that "Christianity equals hatred." Another said, "They seem joyless." But one of the protesters said, "Someone's got to stand for the truth." The protesters would not tell me their names or their church affiliations; one said, pointing to the marchers, "I know these people. They've threatened to sodomize my children."

Would a better answer to the Gay Men's Chorus be not bullhorn condemning but alternative choruses in the catacombs of the city? Won't truly joyful music, with God's grace, overcome music that whistles past the graveyard?

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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