E. Winter Tashlin

Thoughts on the Boy Protesting Outside an LGBT Affirming Church

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | April 03, 2013 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: anti-gay, bigotry, Brian Cranford, church protest, Nolan Cranford

There's been a lot of coverage in the LGBT media in the last several days of a pretty horrifying youtube video published a few days ago. In it, a young boy stands outside an LGBT-welcoming church on Easter Sunday shouting terrible religiously-oriented abuse at parishioners because of the church's position on LGBT acceptance.
I have felt more than a bit uncomfortable about this video since I first saw it, and my discomfort was reinforced by this excellent post that provides more background on the boy in the video, as well as his family and social/religious indoctrination.

Don't get me wrong, I was outraged by the video, as I imagine most people would be. And I completely understand why it was an important story to cover. As issues like marriage equality and trans* rights get debated in courts and state legislatures in sterilized language revolving around procedural issues and legal technicalities, it's important to remind ourselves and the world at large that we are still the targets of very real hate because of our gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

With a common narrative today that we must simply be patient; that opposition to our equality is the purview of the aging and socially rigid, hearing that sort of hate from the mouth of a young boy provides a rude wakeup that is sorely needed.

All that said, even without the information provided in Rob's post, it didn't take a lot of imagination to conclude that this was a boy who had been indoctrinated into hate and bigotry all his life. I believe that compassion requires us to look past the animus his words inspire.

As I've pointed out before, the internet is a globe spanning elephant: it never forgets. This video has been spread far and wide, and seen by more than 65,000 people so far. For better or worse, tens of thousands of people have formed an opinion about this boy, and this legacy of hatred (or as Rob argues: desire to please his father) will follow him for a long time.

Because of this, I couldn't help feeling a bit guilty watching the video (disclaimer: I couldn't make it all the way through). I believe that what we see there constitutes a form of abuse, and viewing it made me feel like an accomplice to that abuse. I know there's an argument on the other side too. Our opponents often argue that we indoctrinate our children to accept our "lifestyle," making people like this boy's parents simply the other side of the coin from LGBT parents. I don't have a great rejoinder to that position, at least not one that would stand a chance of persuading the people who hold it.

It's funny, as much as I desperately hope that the boy in the video will someday change his perspective and regret his actions, a small part of me hopes that he never does. Like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose tactics this child's family seek to emulate, who have left the family and their "church," if he ever rejects hatred and bigotry, this young man will have a pretty big burden to carry with him. And thanks to the web, that's a burden that may well follow him whether he wants to acknowledge it or not.

A final note: in every discussion about this video, save one on a Fox website, commenters have pointed to this incedent as "proof" of the inherently destructive nature of religion and religious faith. I know that my perspective as an LGBT person of faith (though not a Christian) is not a terribly popular one, and I've been referred to as "a religion apologist" right here on Bilerico. That said, I think it's important to recognize that on what is arguably the holiest day in the Christian calendar, this boy was protesting outside a church due to its acceptance and advocacy for LGBT people as a matter of faith.

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