Earlier this month loony anti-LGBT activist Flip Benham crashed a meeting of the Charlotte City Council to scream that the streets and schools of the city will soon run with blood over transgender rights. This weekend Benham attempted to disrupt Charlotte Pride by screaming over a loudspeaker from a vehicle parked near one of the stages. Watch below as Benham rants about penises and rectums as a large bodybuilder strides around nearby waving a bible over his head.
Despite Benham’s years-long crusade to stop Charlotte Pride from even taking place, this year’s event brought out record crowds of Christian supporters thanks to the furor over HB2. The Charlotte Observer reports:
Christina Woodruff of Huntersville is only 10 years old, but she learned a very grown-up lesson about bigotry this weekend at the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade in uptown. “I was just standing there and a man told me that I was a child of the Devil,” said Christina, who is parented by a same sex couple. “I wanted to punch him, but my mom stopped me. I cried instead.”
Conservative religious groups have long provided sideline heckling at Charlotte’s annual gay pride celebration, including a group this year that tried to drown out Mayor Jennifer Roberts during the opening ceremony Saturday.
But things were different this year, thanks in part to growing mainstream opposition to N.C. General Assembly’s House Bill 2, a law that nullified a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that extended protections to LGBT residents. Conservative Christian groups still showed up to protest, but their message was overwhelmed by a record number of faith groups that came out in opposition of HB2.
Churches made up more than 10 percent of the 135 contingents in the parade this year, compared to one church that marched in the first parade back in 1994. Some even came with their choirs, driving up parade participation from 2,500 last year to 3,300 this year. Crowds watching the parade were five and six deep in the blocks north of Trade and Tryon streets.
More from Charlotte’s CBS affiliate:
Last year, 120,000 people made it to Uptown for the Pride celebration. This year, organizers estimated closer to 200,000 people went to the Festival and Parade, including more than 3,500 marchers in the Parade. “This is amazing energy. This just brings you up so much,” said David Pable, one of the marchers.
The Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade aren’t just about the attendance records for the LGBT community. Instead, it has become a safe haven for free expression.
“You see all the people out here enjoying Pride and celebrating who they are, and have a chance to truly be who they are,” said Michelle Money, who went to both the Parade and Festival.
Because of the growth of both events, they were declared extraordinary events for the first time ever, meaning a larger police presence was required. There was pushback by Charlotte Pride, but worries were eased after discussions with CMPD.