Pray The Hate Away
No group of LGBTQs and heathens that large would escape the notice of a diligent street preacher, (witness the French Quarter at Mardi Gras or the Southern Decadence Festival), and the start of today’s activities was no exception, especially given the likely sizeable contingent of preachers on hand for the day’s activities. The wiry fellow was clearly flushed with Red Bull as well as the holy spirit, his carotid arteries straining visibly through his scruffy neck whiskers.
The little guy persisted and followed the group around the block to the main staging area for the rest of the demonstration near the gate entrance into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. He was soon made inaudible and even less significant when the Master of Ceremonies, a burly, part-time rap artist began introducing the speakers. A total of about 12 people spoke for 3-5 minutes each, a group that included professors, lawyers, student LGBT activists, a young Muslim woman, a city councilwoman from Grambling, La., Jessie Nieblas with the New Orleans Abortion Fund, and an aspiring youthful poet.
Halfway through the talks, a small army of pro-lifers approached the PMAC in their own march. I am not sure, but I suspect this group was put together after Response organizers realized there would be a protest. I would be misrepresenting the facts if I said it wasn’t a lot of people: there were at least as many as in our gathering. Barricades separated us from the oncoming group, which was then directed toward the ramps that enter the Assembly Center. A few chose to linger, either scowling or trying to stare down our wickedness, and one wannabe masochist-for-Christ got down on his knees on the rough asphalt and waved a crucifix at us for about 20 minutes.
At the conclusion of the panel discussion, four small workshop groups concluded the day. I attended one on social media, the remaining NOSHAN listened to one on grassroots organizing.