Went to a PRIDE Event. Found Groomers There. They were Evangelical Christians.

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Steve Johnson, Unsplash

Went to a PRIDE Event. Found Groomers There. They were Evangelical Christians.

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Steve Johnson, Unsplash

Evangelical Christians invading and harassing a Pride event aren’t rescuers, they’re bullies. They don’t operate out of love they profess but hatred.

Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz

I attended a PRIDE event at a small town here in North Carolina known to be decidedly conservative and extremely slow to embrace LGBTQ equality. (Such an area is not an anomaly here in the South, sadly.)

Given this reality, it was a surprising and glorious site as hundreds and hundreds of people streamed into a huge swath of a local public park that had been transformed into a kaleidoscopic temporary home from queer folks, allies, advocates, and loved ones to celebrate simple existence. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would go out of their way to come to a place like this to oppose such collective joy, but this is America after all.

As I stood on a hillside preparing to share some opening remarks with those present, I caught word of “disrupters” showing up, not only at the perimeter of the event as allowed by local authorities, but inside the gathering as well, standing amid throngs of families with young children, older couples, and beaming teenagers all decked out in rainbow regalia. The uninvited guests loudly and brazenly invaded this designated safe space with the usual religious diatribes about hell and perversion and Sodom, etc.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see police escorting a couple of visibly agitated men to just beyond the festival’s entrance, which was lined with LGBTQ-affirming veterans who created a human shield for guests, standing between them and the dozen or so other white Evangelicals from a local church who had signs accusing attendees (complete strangers to them) of grooming and sexualizing children, and chastising parents walking in with their families.

These Christians were correct in their assessment: child groomers were there onsite alright.

They just didn’t realize they were on the outside of the barrier, not the inside.

Those coming to PRIDE were made to feel welcomed and secure once on the festival grounds but they still had to pass through the human minefield of these self-righteous, sign-waving, sermonizing, self-appointed moral police. And for all their talk of protecting the young, they simply couldn’t resist preying upon them.

After an hour or so and some histrionics from the protestors, the local sheriff instructed them to leave immediately or be fined.


Because, despite law enforcement’s specific and repeated warnings, these supposed Christians continued to directly confront young children as they entered with their families, saying things to seven and eight year-olds like, “Do you know your parents are helping send you to hell?” and “Do you know all these people are dangerous?”

The sickening gall.

It’s not enough that these phobic cultists have to indoctrinate their own children (some of who were present, though looking rather embarrassed) into their hatred, but they simply could not resist badgering someone else’s kids.

I’m certain that completely lost on these self-identified warriors for God, is the staggering irony that several police officers and the local sheriff and dozens of veterans and volunteers were necessary there that day to protect families from them.

That’s how far gone so many of these people are. They have become oblivious to the cognitive dissonance of claiming to love people while those very people require police intervention to keep them safe.

I don’t know much about the church these phobic Christians call home, but I can guarantee without any doubt that they’ve never been physically accosted on a Sunday morning by a group of LGBTQ human beings telling their kids how much danger they’re in and how bad their parents are. That’s the point here: these Christians aren’t rescuers, they’re bullies. They don’t operate out of love but hatred. If that were not the case, they’d have put down their signs and silenced their sermons and actually looked around at the beautiful, diverse celebration all around them. They’d have listened to people’s stories instead of declaring them sick with drive-by damnation. They’d have learned about the churches, nonprofits, and organizations there trying to make people’s lives easier and less painful—not more difficult.

Before they departed, I’d approached the group and asked them if they thought what they were doing was helpful, and assured them it wasn’t. They claimed once again they were there out of love. I replied, “Do you believe large professionally printed signs telling people they were grooming and sexualizing children and shouting Bible verses about judgment day makes anyone feel like having an actual conversation with you, let alone feel loved?”

An elderly woman holding one of the signs paused and looked at me and said, “That’s a good point.” I took that as a microscopic moment of hope.

I believe we need to protect all children from physical, emotional, and mental harm.

I believe that indoctrination of young people is perverse and disgusting.

That’s why I’ll keep showing up at PRIDE events and school board meetings and online, to protect the LGBTQ community and those who support them, from those intent on turning children into hateful adults who would spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon screaming at strangers.

I will not consent to grooming children to hate strangers.

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.

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