CNN Belief Blog

“I thought that in this part of the United States, LGBT and crosses don’t go together?”

My church was not the only one in attendance - far from it. Naturally, there was also the expected fire-and-brimstone group gathered at the edge of the festival ground. One man with a sandwich-board sign and a portable microphone, citing hellfire scripture in a terrifyingly calm voice. Most people ignored him. As the day progressed, more of his sort joined, providing him with a step ladder and bearing more garish, bright yellow signs. Another man displayed pictures of aborted fetuses. By this point, a crowd of festival goers had also gathered around. Some yelled in protest of the inflammatory words, only to be met by targeted invective from microphone man—hurling insults in that same, calm voice.

I myself am from around Morehead, Kentucky, in Rowan County, also known as Kim Davis Town. Late summer 2015 I got a lot of experience with that sort of fire-and-brimstone. Such demonstration was reminiscent of the Westboro Baptist Church, but not a single, “God hates ‘F**s’” sign. They came from all over the country, gathered outside the Rowan County courthouse, outside the neighboring Carter County’s jail when Davis was finally arrested. It remains one of the strangest moments of my life—standing with my mother and some kids in rainbows from the local college, across the street from people who hated us, who would see us dead, and to do nothing. I know how hatred looks. But there will always be love—from my church, other religious institutions, secular institutions, and individuals of all stripes. There will always be love. To those who claim to promote humanity and kindness through division and hate speech, I'm here to say: Humanity is not a guy with a microphone a step ladder, informing everybody that they’re going to Hell.

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