Ursula Muñoz Schaefer/ Contributing Writer
Religious values should not be an excuse for intolerance and bigotry. This is hardly a revolutionary statement and yet I find myself having to repeat it constantly.
Last weekend, Miami Beach’s annual Pride event took place. A celebration of everything LGBTQ+, the event held a two-day festival, as well as a parade on April 7.
As usual, FIU was there to support its LGBTQ+ community. Student Affairs held a booth giving away free snacks and trinkets to sweaty festival goers and staff and students formed a part of the parade, wearing brightly colored shirts to resemble the rainbow flag.
While I sadly was not able to get a ticket to that second event, I was glad to volunteer at the Student Affairs booth the day before. What I saw was a wonderful celebration of love and freedom.
The homophobic Christian group shouting nonsense over a megaphone for hours only undercut this to a short extent for most people.
Unfortunately for me however, I arrived to volunteer at around the same time they planted themselves right near our booth to spew hatred. Their stay outlasted my shift.
These fundamental weirdos have become a staple of most Pride events by now. You know the kind; they yell about how they are merely trying to “save” us whilst holding hideously designed banners and apparently have no sense of self awareness about how unwelcome they are and how ridiculous they look.
They also don’t represent all Christians or any other religious group, but that is not to say that I haven’t heard the same rhetoric from less “extreme” individuals in the past.
You see, these people look and act like you and me. The creepy middle-aged man who yelled over the megaphone for the first 45-minutes or so may have come off as a joke, but the handsome younger guy who sported cool shades and took over after him could have blended in with the parade itself.
Just like that, I have had great conversations with people who seem tolerant until they very calmly and matter-of-factly say things like, “I don’t have anything against gays, I just think homosexuality is a sin.”
Then they go on to compare it to things like robbery and child molestation, but claim that they were “taught” by God to love all sinners equally—as if these acts were anywhere near the same.
The oddballs at Miami Beach Pride tried making it clear that they were well-meaning and free speech laws gave them every right to be there. They didn’t want us to “burn in hell” and they were merely trying to show us all “salvation.”
What they will never understand is that the love or identity of two people is not sinful. To claim that it is, is a disgusting practice deep-rooted in fear and hatred.
Anyone who claims anything similar is following the same path, even if they don’t sport fanny packs and receding hairlines to shout at strangers in public.
From getting twerked on to having their voices drowned out by toy whistles, the crazy fundamentalists endured a lot of pushback at Pride.
What stayed with me the most was a chant somebody started, which quickly gained a lot of traction: “God. Made. Us.”
Towards the end of my shift, I told one of the gay organizers at my booth that I was sorry he had to endure this hate for the entire time we’d been there.
“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You get used to it after a while.”
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Photo retrieved from FIU Flickr