GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – June is known as Pride month for the ‘LGBTQ’ community, but a planned celebration in a local city is causing quite a controversy
It’s billed as the first Pride event in Geauga County history, but some churches are banding together, asking city leaders to stop it from happening.
“There’s going to be music, there’ll be some speakers, we have a drag show,” said Pastor Jess Peacock.
Pastor Peacock is preparing for Geauga Pride, an LGBTQ-friendly event to be held next Saturday, June 18 in Chardon Square. It’s sponsored by the Community Church of Chesterland.
“This is the first Pride event here and so we think it’s just a great event to begin promoting the idea that there are safe spaces in Geauga County for people who might not always feel like they have a place here,” Peacock said.
“As pastors, we’re concerned about the assault that’s been taking place on family in our country. We believe that God created male and female and with what’s going on with the emphasis on homosexual and lesbian relationships and transgender,” said Pastor Doug Browning of Fowlers Mill Christian Church in Munson Township.
Pastor Browning is among 10 ministers who sent an email to Chardon city officials asking them to block the Pride event.
“We’ve had a standard in our country for years, you know, one man for one woman. That was the marital relationship, the definition of marriage, so we just… a public display of this, like, we want to let folks know that we don’t agree with it,” Browning said.
Geauga Pride was a big topic at Thursday night’s Chardon city council meeting, where the law director explained why the city cannot intervene.
“The most hallowed ground in America is the public square. That’s the marketplace of ideas, independent of your religion and your faith. The marketplace of ideas permits people to express themselves,” said Chardon law director Benjamin Chojnacki.
One big concern pastors have is a drag show that’s part of the event.
“Drag is a very culturally and artistically diverse form of artistic expression. It’s going to be basically a dance review, the same that you would see on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or any other kind of venue like that,” said Peacock.
“Just the encouragement of children to see this as not unusual. We think it is. You know, a man dressing up like a woman, that’s not normal,” said Browning.
Rev. Peacock says he expected the push back, but hopes it can open up a dialogue in the community.
“Sometimes it’s a matter of education. Some people don’t fully understand what’s happening,” he said.
Organizers say they do not know how many people will attend the Pride event.
Some pastors say they plan to attend the event, handing out biblical literature.