The AFTAH Anti-Gay-Rights Academy: A Protester’s Perspective

Andrea Crain devotes a lot of her free time to achieving full LGBTQ equality with Join The Impact Chicago. When she heard that the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was holding a three-day “Truth Academy” in order to train the next generation of anti-gay-rights activists, she wanted to be a voice of dissent. So she joined a group protesting the event on Thursday night (the first day of the Academy) and wrote up her thoughts for this site. Her full account is below, as are several of her pictures.

Additional photos (watermarked) are reprinted with permission of Amy Harkness. You can see Amy’s full gallery of AFTAH protest pictures here.

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be posting what took place inside the Academy, from the perspective of a couple of the attendees who — unbeknownst to AFTAH — were there on my behalf.

“…Then there wouldn’t be any more morality,” said an authoritative male voice from behind me. It was Thursday evening in Arlington Heights, IL, temporary home of the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality academy, and I was prepared for such talk — but not quite yet, and not in the Panera Bread. I snuck a glance behind me. A couple of men in formal clothes, easily recognizable by the AFTAH conference badges around their necks, were finishing up their dinners.

I felt like a secret agent — they had no idea that an LGBTQ rights activist (and atheist) was listening in. As I ordered my food, I noticed many more of the AFTAH people talking about who was going to go first with the cameras to film the counter-protesters. About eight of them were standing around, blocking the exit. Food and drinks in hand, my partner and I decided we’d better make our escape if we were going to greet them when they got to the school. “Excuse us, pardon us,” I said as we walked through the towering clump of guys to the door. Once we were outside, I continued privately, “We don’t want to be late to protest you…”

As regular readers of this blog probably know, AFTAH is run by Peter LaBarbera, an anti-gay activist who’s worked for the Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and most recently the Illinois Family Institute, before leaving to form AFTAH, and who is known by some gay activists as “Porno Pete” for his unusually detailed firsthand research into gay male S&M events and extremely hardcore, fringe pornography. He organized the not-so-aptly named “Truth Academy” to teach people as young as 14 how to follow in his footsteps.

Peter LaBarbera

We got to the Christian Liberty Academy, the school playing host to the event, right around 7:30 p.m., and there were already a lot of demonstrators:

The protest was co-sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network (GLN), DuPage NOW, Woodstock/McHenry County PFLAG, La Voz de los de Abajo, and the group I belong to, Join the Impact Chicago (JTIC). There were NOW folks and others on the corner, displaying signs to those driving by on Euclid Ave. There were GLN, PFLAG and Standing On The Side of Love folks with huge banners, lots of people with homemade signs like my own, and Andy Thayer of the GLN with his portable sound system leading a picket line up and down the sidewalk, chanting against homophobia and for equal rights.

Andrea Crain with her sign



Andy Thayer

About ten police officers were monitoring the situation, and some school staff hung out, watching us, from the steps leading to the entrance.

Within a few minutes, the picket line became a knot around a few people at the end of the sidewalk. Peter LaBarbera and a couple of other AFTAH people, including a person with a big television-style camera, were on the sidewalk among us. They were allowing themselves to be surrounded; there were plenty of police keeping a clear path to the entrance when other AFTAH people wanted to enter and leave.

I rushed over to where they were. Peter seemed delighted to have us there. I felt he just wanted to catch some excellent footage for use in portraying our movement for justice as the real haters. We were, of course, angry at him not because he privately thinks we’re sinners, but because of his attempts to enforce his religious opinions on everyone else and to fill the minds of young people with hateful lies about us. We had noticed the school’s sign had been set up with a special message for us: “Truth is not hate except for those who hate truth.” Rubber and glue, AFTAH, rubber and glue.

He and the men with him talked to members of our crowd for a few minutes, filming the whole time. I was only a few feet away but I could not hear a word any of them said, because people from our side had bucket drums, Andy Thayer led a round of chanting “Peter LaBigot,” and there was a lot of general yelling. They filmed an extensive conversation between a young man and one of the AFTAH folks. I just held up my sign for the camera to see and hoped that young man was good at debating. When I asked someone else who got close enough to talk to the AFTAH people what they’d said, he just shook his head and said it was like talking to a wall.

Once Peter’s entourage got inside, we went back to picketing and holding up signs. I went over to talk to the Standing On The Side of Love group. This is a social justice campaign that was initiated by the Unitarian Universalists. I have seen their distinctive yellow signs at a bunch of rallies and marches, and I was interested to talk to them. These folks were from the Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine.

Their minister, Hilary Krivchenia, said the members of her church who’d come out this evening “believed that the United States can do better than fomenting hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons.” I asked her what she’d say if she could talk one-on-one with the kids attending the Academy. She said she’d tell them to get to know the people behind the slogans, rather than falling for the very narrow interpretations of Christian teachings on offer at the Academy.

She added: “If Jesus were here, he’d be standing with us.”

One of the members, Jane Matthews, told me that they were part of a program at their church called Living the Welcoming Congregation and that they “make explicit efforts to welcome and include LGBT people in the life of the congregation.” What would she say to the “Truth Academy” attendees? She hoped they would reach out and get to know some LGBT youth so they could learn to appreciate each other. “I don’t think lectures work, and I sure hope this doesn’t work,” she said, gesturing to the school.

Jane’s husband, Jim Booth, said he’d come to the protest because he’d always believed in equal rights. He said he was 79-years-old and he’d known and liked gay people for a long time, even forty or fifty years ago. “They have such a difficulty,” he said, “with all the bigotry they’re faced with, so I just have always wanted to support them.” When I asked him what he’d say to the kids, he said he’d tell them to study all sides and come to their own conclusion. “I would not insist that they see my own way of thinking or believing, I don’t think that’s right, but I think the important thing is that they do their own research.” Jim is a member of the Unitarian congregation and also an atheist. I asked him if he felt accepted at the church as an atheist, and he said he’d helped start up an agnosticism, humanism and atheism discussion group there about three years ago and it was still quite active. Laughing, he said, “Atheism is alive and well within Unitarianism.”

After I left the folks from the Unitarian Universalists Church, my partner, wearing our rainbow flag like a superhero cape, went to stand with the NOW and PFLAG folks. I wandered around taking pictures of some of the great signs people had made.







Then we noticed that the window on an upper floor had opened, and a couple of AFTAH people were filming the crowd from above.

I held up my sign to face the camera. A young lesbian next to me started jumping up and down to get their attention. She had heard one of the AFTAH people told one of our people that we must have been molested to cause our homosexual behaviors. “I’ve never been molested,” the young woman yelled up at the cameraman. “No one abused me! No one’s ever touched me without my consent! I’m gay because I like it and because I can’t change!”

Some of the other JTIC members who were there came up to me and told me that we were offered a chance to speak, and that they thought I should do it. I agreed without thinking and then realized I didn’t have anything prepared. I frantically tried to figure out what I should say.

Pretty soon we gathered into a circle to start our rally. Hilary Krivchenia started us off with a prayer that as we speak, we would increase the light and love in the world and transcend barriers of hatred, fear, and misunderstanding in order to create bonds of love.

Then a number of activists spoke. A former teacher from Palatine talked about how bigotry at school can wear down a kid’s self esteem and dignity. A younger activist talked about not being afraid of who you are, referencing the school’s sign about the “real meaning” of truth. A PFLAG mom talked about how disgusted she was at the idea of teaching kids to hate. “Teaching that my son is less-than or a sinner is child abuse!… God loves my son, and I love my son exactly as God made him.”

When my turn came, hoping the sound system was loud enough that people inside could hear us, I decided to address the kids directly. I said I was willing to bet a lot of kids who would sign up for such an academy did so because they were struggling with being gay themselves. I told them there was a whole world outside their sect, that there were Christians and agnostics and atheists like myself out here who are good people and who wanted to support them. I asked them to do their own research, follow their own hearts, and listen to their own feelings.

What I said will probably be used in AFTAH propaganda as evidence that we came to recruit, but all I wanted was to encourage and strengthen any kid in there who was like Amanda.

Amanda is a young, Christian, bisexual woman who had been expelled from the very school that was hosting the Academy. What she said was very moving. “This school terrified me. I think every time I went to this school I had an anxiety attack. It was so terrifying to be myself,” she began. Please watch the video of Amanda’s full speech.

There was also some political talk. A young man reminded us about the boycott of Target. Some meetings were advertised and Eric Broad, who lives in the same town as Peter LaBarbera and helped organize the protest, wanted to deliver the message that their community does not tolerate bigotry.

Andy Thayer of GLN reminded us that a large movement with activists out in the street has always been needed for any social change and invited everyone to get involved in creating the sort of climate where lawmakers and bigots and the Supreme Court justices, who will eventually rule on whether to uphold the amazing Prop 8 victory that had come out the previous day, know that the people will not stand for anything less than full equality.

At its peak, our side had over a hundred people standing on the side of love, freedom from fear, and justice under the law. I hope next time hate comes to your town, you will be standing there as well.



Incidentally, AFTAH wrote about the protest here.


  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Whoa. AFTAH really knows how to twist reality. Their ‘coverage’ of this event is just ridiculous.

  • Heidi

    I’m getting really tired of these pro-hate groups using words like “truth,” “family,” and “concern” to peddle their bullshit.

    Thanks for sharing this positive side of the day.

  • Claudia

    It may not be too relevant to the subject, but the picture of the two dads with their daughters is just ridiculously cute. I have to stand in awe of the cognitive dissonance of people who claim to want to protect children but then relentlessly attack these children and their parents. I can only imagine how hurtful it must be for a child to have grown-ups on tv saying that your daddies are bad and want to hurt kids and you shouldn’t be with them. Here’s hoping that by the time these girls are old enough to be aware, those voices will be entirely overwhelmed by supportive ones.

    I also really feel for the gay and lesbian kids of fundamentalists, who are taught to hate themselves and fear discovery. It’s these sorts of things that give rise to the Ted Haggards, Larry Craig’s and George Rekers (and a long etc.) of the world. I think that if protests can make it so one or two of these kids realizes that there is an option to self-hatred and lifelong deception then it’s all worth it.

  • JohnFrost

    Wow. Just read the AFTAH “version” of events. Now I want to vomit.

  • Stan

    A tag reading “This website may contain information not suitable for children” over an article about teaching children that homosexuals are sinners. Fuck them.

  • Tom H from Cleveland

    How’s this for truth in advertising. The AFTAH website includes this warning: “CAUTION: This website contains information not suitable for children.”

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com/ ObSciGuy (Paul)

    Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be posting what took place inside the Academy, from the perspective of a couple of the attendees who — unbeknownst to AFTAH — were there on my behalf.

    A W E S O M E :)

  • Bryan Elliott

    “It’s truly a blessing to have total freaking idiots as your opponents”

    Reminds me of Voltaire’s prayer:

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

  • http://www.jointheimpactchicago.com Andrea

    Thanks for the chance to do this guest post. So if you had spies, and Wayne Besen had spies, were there any actual sincere attendees? :D

  • Samiimas

    Whoa. AFTAH really knows how to twist reality. Their ‘coverage’ of this event is just ridiculous.

    On a message board this morning I made a very simple topic.

    Agree/Disagree: Anyone who opposes gay marriage hates gay people

    And I only had one condition: Anyone who disagreed must explain why me wanting to make it illegal for Blacks, Jews, Christians, interracial couples, Germans or Libertarians to marry wouldn’t mean I hate those people.

    I’ve gotten tons of denies but not a single person has even acknowledged the question except for one lying through his teeth and claiming Christians, that same group that claims they’re being oppressed by me having equal rights, wouldn’t care if they lost rights.

    Amazing how the bigots lie and simply ignore reality when it doesn’t suit them.

  • Claudia

    @Samiimas, the people on your board are not only ignorant, they must be poor debaters. Even I, who wholeheartedly support GLBT equality, could come up for an answer to your challenge. There are two ways to do it off the top of my head; argue that such unions are not consensual or argue that such unions are harmful to society. If you were totally batshit you could try to make the argument that homosexuality is a mental illness grave enough so that the ability of homosexuals to consent to marriage is questionable. Of course, that’s probably too nuts even for the Tony Perkins of the world. A more “reasonable” (ejem) tactic would be to argue that homosexual unions are inherently harmful to society in a way that all the other unions are not. Much like you can prohibit drugs because of supposed harm to society without hating drug users, you could do the same for gays, assuming you were able to demonstrate harm to society by gay marriages. Of course, when pressed they will be unable to produce a single shred of evidence that such harm takes place, but I’m surprised that they didn’t even try to do it.

  • Jennifer

    This guy has found a way to make a living from anti-gay rhetoric. This is simply another profit center for him. He and those like him along with pastors, priests and other clergy are nothing more than modern day snake oil salespeople. As in times past, the simple minded in society will flock to him. I’m not sure there’s anything we can do to change it. Protests like that only fire up the base and make fools supporters more willing to support the leaders of these organizations.

  • Samiimas

    Except that avoids the whole point all together, if I was arguing that libertarians shouldn’t be allowed to marry other libertarians because libertarianism is harmful to society would anyone really believe I didn’t hate libertarians?

  • littlejohn

    I cringe when the people I agree with misspell things on their signs. In the United States, there is only one “e” in “judgmental.”

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Oh wow, I attended Christian Liberty Academy for 6 years… I have never been so mortified. I knew they were loons but hosting this sick crap? Well I suppose they would be so proud to know their alumnus is on both sides of a fence that irritates them so.

    What I don’t get is the absolute virulent hate toward homosexuals. What is it that can make people care so passionately about what others do privately?

  • http://logofveritas.blogspot.com Veritas

    I just want to say the picture of the two men holding those gorgeous little girls (and I am assuming the men are together and adopted the girls) is utterly beautiful. To see smiles of pure happiness on a day where people were trying to spread wicked hate…brings tears to my eyes.

  • beckster

    Can’t wait for the inside scoop!

  • http://www.skepticalseeker.com Mikel

    Christian Liberty Academy? LOL That is where I got my homeschooling materials from for high school, though I never went to the building in IL. Not proud of that though, and I’m glad I’m on the other side now.

  • http://theehtheist.blogspot.com/ The “Eh”theist

    1) More props to the photographer on the photo of the men and little girl-amazing composition and vibrancy-I’m sure if it was put up on a stock site that it would see lots of usage.

    2) @Samiimas the prop 8 ruling provides an answer to your challenge when it states that the view of marriage as a regulating/supporting influence for sexual activity and any births that may happen as a result would justify limiting marriage to those whose sexual activity might produce such births-then the ruling then goes on to clearly state that this is no longer the view of marriage in California and given that fact, any sort of restriction is discrimination against people’s right to marriage.

    So you may want to consider tightening up your proposition a bit since I believe most people would disagree with the statement that “wanting to make it illegal for brothers and sisters to marry means one hates brothers and sisters”.

    In this case people do want to discriminate (for reasons of health) but it isn’t a matter of hate, so you may want to talk about discrimination instead to avoid someone taking this line of argument. By using discrimination instead of hate, the onus is on the person claiming a basis for discrimination against same-sex couples and the prop 8 ruling and Ted Olsen have closed all those loopholes.

  • gstar

    i’d like to laugh at how manipulative and deceitful this organization is, especially after reading their side of the story, but this is just too serious for that. but still, they are ridiculous.

  • http://deviatehulk.blogspot.com Keith

    From the AFTAH “coverage”: “GLN and company had better keep fresh batteries in their bullhorns. Protesting God’s truth may become a full time job.”

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but really, that’s a job I’d be willing to do. I do it for free as it is; I’d love to get paid for it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    @ Claudia: Actually, homosexuality used to be in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). It wasn’t removed until 1973, so it used to actually be considered akin to mental illness. :(

    And those two guys with the children–definitely a much needed snapshot of happiness after reading about AFTAH’s asshattery.

  • JulietEcho

    I feel weird about people using children on the “right” side of the issue though. I always cringe when I see the poor kids trotted out by the Westboro protestors, for instance. If a kid is old enough to hold and articulate an opinion about an issue (I’d guess 8-9 at the very youngest) then absolutely – let them experience the process of free speech.

    If they’re younger, however, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of having them at protests and rallies and such. I mean, even if it’s absolutely unintentional, they serve as props and scenery for the event. Worse still, some parents dress them up with slogans and labels on their little clothes. If you really can’t find a babysitter and a rally is important to you, then fine. If you’re purposely using your young kid to stir up emotions, then I don’t think I’m cool with it.

  • http://www.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    How’s this for truth in advertising. The AFTAH website includes this warning: “CAUTION: This website contains information not suitable for children.”

    It should read “CAUTION: This website contains information not suitable for anyone.”

  • Siamang

    Juliet Echo,

    I’m a parent, and for me the primary concern is the appropriateness of the venue for the child. What is THEIR experience of it.

    I wouldn’t want my six-year old at that event, because of some of the issues of putting too much on her about the negativity of people.

    However, when my child was a baby, she attended a family wedding, which happened to be in San Francisco, at City Hall, during Mayor Newsome’s civil disobedient gay marriages. And yes there were protesters there. And yes, my baby was on CNN, because her grandmothers were getting married.

    As a parent, my concern wasn’t that my child was a prop, because my child WAS NEVER a prop. This was a family wedding that was partially political, but mostly family.

    My child was no more a prop than our whole family was, being together for a wedding and not looking like… what criminals? Sex deviants? Whatever bigots imagine families with gay relatives must look like.

    Anyway, these men and their kids out and being a family is exactly what the bigots need to see. It’s exactly the opposite of what their view is.

    This isn’t like dragging your kids out to hold up pictures of aborted fetuses or slaughtered animals. We know that anti-abortion activists can have children. Showing the children doesn’t send any message.

    But these people want our families hidden. They want to deny that happily married gay people can be fit parents. They want those kids to be invisible and denyable.

    As a parent, the choice is down to “will this be a safe and positive experience for my child.”

    As I see it, a protest here and there before they can read the hate as hate, means LESS actual hate these kids will suffer come school-age.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I’m with Siamang. These people are being told by bigots that their families are not real families. Bringing the kids along is a perfectly valid way of saying “yes, we are.”

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com krissthesexyatheist

    My favorite sign is (non) Judgment Day is Near. Great work once again you peeps. Keep it up.

    Kriss

  • Anna

    I grew up with two lesbian moms, but my parents were rather apolitical, so I never went to marches or rallies or anything like that as a young child. My personal view is that it’s okay to bring children to these kinds of events as long as it’s a calm environment. I wouldn’t bring children into a hostile atmosphere with lots of screaming and shouting protestors, or to a place where there are graphic or disturbing signs being displayed. So taking kids to a candlelight vigil or an upbeat pride march? Totally fine. Taking kids to protest Fred Phelps or do battle at an abortion clinic? Too stressful with too many potentially upsetting sights and sounds.

  • muggle

    Mostly cudos and way to go but for two small quibbles.

    I agree with JulietEcho on the kids things. Kids don’t belong at protests. Protests are a very grown up thing. Siamung makes a point about atmosphere but bringing a kid to a family wedding even when nutters are protesting said wedding is hardly the same thing as bringing them to the march. Yes, that family is beautiful but, no, I’m sorry but it does not reflect well on their parenting skills that they dragged their daughters along to a protest that did (it shouldn’t but it did) have a possibility of violence and a surety of hateful viterol. I hate, hate, hate when either side brings kids.

    Other quibble is the exclusion of Atheists yet again with another Goddamned prayer. What the hell is the deal with praying at the start of protests recently? It sends me a message loud and clear that you don’t want my support. If some theists want to pray before marching, they should get together in some separate forum and do so instead of being exclusive while protesting other people being exclusive. Frankly, it seems rather self-defeating to me to bring god into protesting homophobia given that god is the excuse for it.

  • muggle

    Good points, Anna.

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you for this excellent report, Hemant. I know it involved a lot of time, effort and care. I wish I could have been there. Protesting this is very important and necessary. There has to be a cost to everyone who participates in or supports such bigotry. They must not be able to blithely come and go to a hate school as if they were attending a class on flower arranging, without being confronted with how ugly their behavior is.

    We must not relent. We are gaining ground. Every year, fewer young people accept this poisonous teaching. That is why they’re trying to hold such “classes.” It is an act of desperation, the thrashing of a dinosaur as it goes extinct. Good riddance.

  • http://www.jointheimpactchicago.com Andrea

    I have been to many, many LGBTQ rights protests and not one has turned violent.

    Anyway, I did not see either the little girl the photographer brought, nor the two children with the daddies, the whole time I was there, so I am assuming they kept the kids away from the thicker part of the crowd, and especially away from where the AFTAH guys were allowing themselves to be surrounded. I have one pic that caught the little girl the photographer brought, and she was way over by the PFLAG people, on the less-intense side of the lawn.

    Even on the more intense side of the lawn, when the AFTAH guys were allowing themselves to be surrounded, nothing physical was going to happen. Groups like that want footage of themselves smiling beatifically while being screamed at by our side, but they certainly don’t want fisticuffs, and there were lots of cops around to prevent or stop any fights.

    So, in conclusion, those kids were safe. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to have them over on the intense side of the lawn, with all the drumming and yelling and cacaphony, but they were not in danger.

    As for whether atheists were excluded, no, we were NOT excluded. I didn’t post the video of myself speaking because the person filming had their finger over the mic and the sound is cruddy, but I did specifically say that I was representing as an atheist in my speech and I got huge applause for that.

    The minister who prayed was a Unitarian, too. If every theist in America were a Unitarian, there would be no need for an organized atheist movement, because there would be no science denialism, attempts to enact religious opinions into law, or proselytizing. That is just not how Unitarians roll. The Unitarian god (or gods or lack of god) is not the excuse for homophobia.

    Anyway, I totally support non-fundamentalist Christians and other liberal religious people taking back their share of the public image of “Christians” and “Religious People” and “People of Faith”. That’s much better than ceding those titles entirely to the crazies. It can only help to erode the perception that prominent faith-based haters and bigots are speaking for all theists. And the perception that they speak for everyone who believes in God is what gives them the power to screw up the lives of people who don’t even belong to their religion.

    Plus, those Unitarians were just ridiculously nice.

  • Mak

    This is lovely, but I hate that “Jesus would be on our side!” line that everyone uses. He probably wouldn’t have been. And that is not even a valid argument. Ah well. Yay for cute pictures!

  • http://vancouvermoose.livejournal.com/ VancouverMoose

    “If Jesus were here, he’d be standing with us.”

    I’m sure that the christianists would find a way to discredit even Him.

  • JulietEcho

    Siaming and Anna – some good points. I agree that there are situations that *can* turn political or quasi-political (weddings being one of them) where it’s fine to bring your kids.

    I very much understand the urge to bring kids instead of caving to perceived pressure to hide gay families – however, I *do* think that this merits being called out as using kids as political props. I mean, why do you think the anti-gay-marriage crowd is so fond of bringing *their* kids to protests? To show their “healthy” heterosexual families (and the kids whose wellbeing they perceive to be threatened). Both Siaming and MikeTheInfidel admit, in a way, that the kids are props, by saying:

    Anyway, these men and their kids out and being a family is exactly what the bigots need to see.

    and

    These people are being told by bigots that their families are not real families. Bringing the kids along is a perfectly valid way of saying “yes, we are.”

    respectively. Just because I agree with the message doesn’t mean I approve of the particular tactic.

    Showing off families is philosophically pointless anyway, because in the end, individual families are just anecdotes. There are going to be healthy, happy families on both sides of most divides, and there are going to be dysfunctional, unhappy families on both sides as well.

  • Anna

    I very much understand the urge to bring kids instead of caving to perceived pressure to hide gay families – however, I *do* think that this merits being called out as using kids as political props.

    Point taken, although it’s possible to bring children not in order to use them as political props, but rather to teach them about the importance of activism. Depends on the age of the child, though. A baby or toddler is not going to get anything out of going to a protest. An older child might be able to get something out of it, perhaps a sense of purpose or solidarity.

    There were children involved in the civil rights movement, for example, and while there were frequently ugly sentiments expressed in front of those children, I haven’t read accounts by any adults who regretted being part of it. The movement was important to them, and they were proud to stand up and be counted.

    Of course, I’m not talking from personal experience. My moms would never have attended a protest, let alone taken my brother and me to one, but I do know other people of LGBT parents who had far more political childhoods, and I haven’t met anyone (yet) who was upset about their involvement.

  • http://amybethphotography.blogspot.com Amy Beth

    Hi all, Amy the photographer here! I’d like to thank both Hemant and Andrea for allowing the photographs to be seen by a wider audience.

    Just wanted to comment briefly on my niece’s presence at the protest. She’s 11 and originally her mom was going to attend the protest, as well. She wasn’t feeling well, so my niece came along with my mom & me. We talked about the protest ahead of time and while we were there, we thought it was best for her to stick to the side near Euclid, away from the AFTAH folks who came outside, while I stayed over at the louder area. When grandma had to leave, we crossed the street for a bit and held our signs for passing motorists until the AFTAH crew went back inside. At that point, we all circled up and people started speaking. We stayed for a bit and once it started getting dark, I thought it best to take her home. So she was never really exposed to any of the anger stirred up by the AFTAH presence.

    The walk back to the car and the drive home were filled with discussions about civil rights, things she had learned in school about African American civil rights, peaceful demonstration, the right to free speech, religion (we do come from a Christian background), etc. I think it was an amazing learning experience for her. So she definitely wasn’t there as a prop of any sort. None of us are LGBT – we were just there as community residents and LGBT community supporters sick of the hatred being spread in the alleged name of Christianity and infuriated that this was happening in our backyard.

  • muggle

    Prayer at any of these events rather makes me feel excluded and not welcome. Since I can’t participate in the prayer. Just as if I make a speech saying there is no god would exclude people. Leave the god shit out of it!

  • Misty

    Excellent job of twisting a story to meet your needs. I just clicked the send button to sign my oldest daughter up for their school.

  • Kate

    I attended CLA with Amanda. This group has gotten it all wrong about the school. We were taught that God’s original design for marriage is between one man and one woman, but in no way was that the FOCUS of our education (to hate) and in no way was this subject brought up in classes as an elementary school student. Only in the junior high and high school was it addressed…but only like any other subject; i.e. evolution, etc. I have gay family members, lesbian friends, etc. and in NO WAY do I HATE. Jesus said to love, not to judge, and I know he’d much rather hang out with the outcast than the legalistic. The “anti-gay” event was scheduled and put on by the school’s CHURCH, which is attended by very few who actually teach at or attend the school. Get your facts straight before you put an anti-gay label on all associated with the school.