The other shoe fell and it wasn’t that bad, although there sure are some wackos out there.
St. Augustine, Florida (the nation’s oldest city) kicked off its annual gay pride celebration early and somewhat unwillingly, after a federal court ruled the city had to fly rainbow flags downtown and across the 1920s landmark Bridge of Lions. The city flew other flags for various events, the court pointed out, without criteria that would eliminate commemoration of such sentiments as gay pride.
Jason Relph of New York City is a former resident of St. Augustine who flew back here for this event.
“The federal court ruling (on the flags) made news in England, Canada and, for some reason, Iceland,” Relph said. “It’s unusual because this is a Southern, conservative town, and this march says we are not ashamed of who we are. It’s an awakening on some level.”
Jordan Buffaloe of Jacksonville arrived with his partner, Shawn Weiker.
“We want people to look past the rainbow flags and into our expressions,” Buffaloe said. “We want to be recognized as individuals. Look past our sexual orientation.”
The other team (in the Seinfeld sense) was pitifully represented by some scary folks who were mercifully outnumbered.
Anthony Russo, 24, held a sign that said, “I hate queers.”
He said homosexuality was “ungodly and immoral.”
Russo and three friends taunted the marchers.
His father, Doug Russo, held a sign that said homosexuals should “repent or burn.”
Russo said homosexuality has been a crime for 200 years of American history.
“Now all of a sudden, it’s not,” he said. “Sin is a reproach to any nation. I’m trying to prevent them from going to Hell. Is that hate? I think it’s concern.”
Homosexuality, Russo said, is caused by “demon possession.” If homosexuals accepted Jesus, he added, they would be saved.
It’s depressingly obvious concepts like demonic possession can be handed down in families, although there are certainly people who rise above such upbringing. But I wonder what Anthony’s going to be like in middle age.
Doug’s mission from God aside, gay pride organizers promised an even bigger event next year. Instead of closing downtown streets, they will apply to use the city’s special events field. Stay tuned…