Posted by: joshjasper | September 9, 2011

Gay love…or lack thereof

The Savanna chief of police called today to inform me that some residents are not pleased with Riverview Center’s new billboard campaign.  His department has taken calls from people expressing their dismay about the fact that we are promoting a “gay-friendly community.”  One caller asked “what’s next, are they going to have a gay pride parade here?”

Memories of speaking at the vigil just weeks ago for Marcellus Andrews, the young man who was brutally beaten by individuals that screamed homophobic slurs while taking his life, washed over me.  People were upset that Riverview Center is working towards creating a gay-friendly community?  Upset enough to call the police department?  Really?

I shared with the chief that our vision of a community free of violence involves ending violence towards EVERYONE in our community, not just the straight folks.  I appreciated the fact that he was looking for more information to share with his community.  The objective of our new marketing campaign is simple.  We have partnered with the Midwest Give ’em Hope Project, intending to provide hope to the gay community while empowering allies to step forward and speak out against homophobia, harassment, and violence towards gay individuals.  I wanted to give him as much information as possible so that he could help educate the people he is entrusted to protect and serve.

To the residents of Savanna and anyone else that may see our billboards throughout the tri-state area and disagree with our message, I ask that you give serious thought to what you are disputing.  Put aside your hate and discontent, and commit to ending violence against all members of your community, not just the ones you like.

The work of ending violence results in ending homophobia, racism, and sexism.  During every one of my presentations I remind the attendees that 24 employees and 52 volunteers at Riverview Center cannot do this work alone.  It would be impossible to think otherwise.  The entire community must be involved and positively engaged to effectively realize our vision.  You cannot hate certain people who are different from you and still claim to be supportive of our work.  There is no gray area here.  You need to pick a side.



  1. I always thought we should have a gay-pride parade!

  2. Provo! Well said.

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