On Friday night, police in riot gear had to rush to the Castro District to protect a group of Christianists seeking to convert gays.
In San Francisco’s Castro District, people on both sides of the same-sex marriage controversy confronted each other on Friday night, as police tried to keep the peace. Proposition 8 passed in a close vote and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. Members of the gay community said that almost every Friday night, a Christian group meets at the corner of Castro and 18th Streets. They try to convert gays and lesbians into a straight lifestyle.
This Friday night, the message didn’t go over well. Some gays and lesbians reacted by trying to chase the group out of the Castro. “Their rights were respected,” said Joe Schmitz, an opponent of Prop 8. “They got a chance to go ahead and pray on the sidewalk and I had the opportunity to express my freedom of speech which is telling them to get out of my neighborhood.” San Francisco Police officers in riot gear formed a line and escorted the religious group into a van to safely get them out of the area.
The Justice House of Prayer posted the above video on YouTube under their username “IntolerantPeople” with claims that gay men kicked and sexually assaulted them during the melee.
It was the first time we’d been back in the Castro to do our normal outreach since California Proposition 8, which defined marriage as “one man with one woman” was passed. We played the guitar and sang together and worshiped the Lord. After just singing and worshiping God for a while, Roger decided that we should all hold hands in a circle and continue singing. So we did. Someone (Actually a person who came up and hugged and kissed some of us who he knew from the past) convinced some people that we were there to protest against the no on 8 campaign.
Then some guy who was dressed up like one of the sisters (The sisters of perpetual indulgence is a group of men who dress up like nuns and call themselves the spiritual authority of the Castro.) took a curtain-type thing (Which I think they use to curse people) and wrapped it around us. Then a crowd started gathering. We began to sing “Amazing Grace”, and basically sang that song the whole night. (At some points we also sang “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” and “Oh the Blood of Jesus”.)
At first, they just shouted at us, using crude, rude, and foul language and calling us names like “haters” and “bigots”. Since it was a long night, I can’t even begin to remember all of the things that were shouted and/or chanted at us. Then, they started throwing hot coffee, soda and alcohol on us and spitting (and maybe even peeing) on us. Then, a group of guys surrounded us with whistles, and blasted them inches away from our ears continually. Then, they started getting violent and started shoving us.
At one point a man tried to steal one of our Bibles. Chrisdene noticed, so she walked up to him and said “Hey, that’s not yours, can you please give it back?”. He responded by hitting her on the head with the Bible, shoving her to the ground, and kicking her. I called the cops, and when they got there, they pulled her out of the circle and asked her if she wanted to press charges. She said “No, tell him I forgive him.” Afterwards, she didn’t rejoin us in the circle, but she made friends with one of the people in the crowd, and really connected heart to heart.
Roger got death threats. As the leader of our group, people looked him in the eyes and said “I am going to kill you.”, and they were serious. A cop heard one of them, and confronted him. (This part is kinda graphic, so you should skip the paragraph if you don’t want to be offended.) It wasn’t long before the violence turned to perversion. They were touching and grabbing me, and trying to shove things in my butt, and even trying to take off my pants – basically trying to molest me. I used one hand to hold my pants up, while I used the other arm to hold one of the girls. The guys huddled around all the girls, and protected them.
Soon after, the cops came and stood between us and the mob. When it was getting more heated, the cops were like “You guys should leave.” and Roger said “We want to stay.” Someone tried to steal my backpack, but I tapped a cop on the shoulder, and said “Hey, that’s my bag.” and he got it from him and gave it to me. Others weren’t so lucky. Probably half our team got their jackets stolen.
Eventually, as the crowd was getting more and more uncontrollable, the cops were afraid for our lives, so they escorted us to our van. (The cops were very nice to us from start to finish.) Our van was parked pretty far because it was hard to find parking that day. As the cops escorted us, the mob followed us, until the cops formed a line, and held off the people so we could drive away. We took the long way home, just in case anyone tried to follow us.
When we got home, we prayed and sang more, and then prayed over each-other. Please know my heart. All of what we do is for the Love of Jesus Christ, and the love for those in the Castro. The Bible says to love God, and then love people. We can only love because He loved us first. We can’t hate the people because they are just broken and blinded by the spirit of this age. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities and Powers. It’s not a political thing, we just love the people.
Over the weekend the story got major play on right-wing and Christianist blogs as another example (like in Palm Springs) of how inherently violent and intolerant gay people supposedly are. I’m not at ALL buying that things went like the Justice House people claim, but these confrontations are definitely escalating. Ugly and uglier.
I’m really worried about where this is heading. Somebody is going to get killed and we’re all going to lose. I’m pissed, we’re all fucking pissed, but this is going to a bad place. And I say that knowing that if I had been in the Castro on Friday night, I probably would have been right there in it. We’ve got the moral upper hand in this fight and every day more and more people see that. But we have GOT to keep these things peaceful. Yell, fuck yeah, YELL. But don’t touch. Don’t hit. Don’t throw. Please.