Very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel from Charlotte up to Newton, N.C., for the protest of Providence Baptist Church (Maiden, N.C.) Pastor Charles Worley and to also report from the scene for QNotes

Over 1,000 gather in Newton to protest anti-gay preacher’s comments
Peaceful protest draws raucous counter protesters

Protesters and anti-LGBT counter protesters engaged in heated debate at Sunday’s event. Photo Credit: QNotes/Matt Comer.

Newton, N.C. — Over 1,000 people gathered in this small town about an hour outside Charlotte on Sunday to protest what they called messages of hate by Maiden, N.C. Pastor Charles Worley, whose comments at Providence Road Baptist Church during a sermon on May 13 made headlines last week.

Worley said he had “figured a way out – a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

“Build a great big, large fence — 50 or a 100 miles long — and put all the lesbians in there,” Worley told his congregants. “Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals — and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Comments from a 1978 sermon by Worley also raised eyebrows. Posted by the church, the old sermon included comments from Worley that “Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree!”

Organizers had told media they were expecting 2,000-5,000 protesters, which prompted them to move from their original protest location at Worley’s church to the Catawba County Government and Justice Center. Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told qnotes that he estimated attendance at anywhere from 1,400-1,600. He said every spot in the government center parking lot had at one time been filled. The lot holds 675 cars, Reid said, noting that many vehicles had come with at least two passengers.

Read the rest of the story and view photos and video at goqnotes.com…

Yet another update on the Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church, whose pastor, Charles “Concentration Camp” Worley, has come under scrutiny for his proposal to send LGBT people to Nazi-like concentration camps and his 1978 sermon blessing the hanging of gays.

A mutual friend on Facebook posted a screenshot of a review of the church he found on the church’s overview on Google. The review reads almost too outlandish to believe.

It it legit? Is it a satire? My first impression was the latter, but I’m concerned it could be real for several reasons.

I’ll explain. First, the review (my emphasis added):

TheRodofGod – today – 5 stars
I started attending this church a few months ago and believe me when I say it is absolutely a blessing. It is so nice to be among like minded individuals who praise the time honored traditions of racial and sexual purity. Pastor Worley speaks an abundance of truth and realizes the need for a final solution to our country’s troubled present. He preaches the truth that modern day Zionist media refuses to acknowledge. Providence isn’t some bobble-head ditto chamber either, we all agree that the good days are behind us and only torment await if we continue to travel the road we’re one. I will continue to pray for days when the racially impure do the menial tasks us deserving and god-chosen southerners are breaking our backs at. The dandies should stop choosing sin and the ladies would be much happier if they could just embrace their dependence on the masculine men in society.

Crazy, right? When I first read it, I thought so too. “There’s no way,” I told myself, “that anyone believes this.” And, the username — “TheRodofGod” — just has to be a joke. Plus, the user has only one activity on Google’s network — this one comment — according to the public profile.

Yet, stopping to consider the source, a church whose pastor has preached murder of LGBT people for at least 40 years, and one might be cautious before ignoring these new comments outright. 

Continue reading this post…

Peter St. Onge

The Charlotte Observer last week noted their slate of 36 different awards and honors from the N.C. Press Association. Among them was columnist Peter St. Onge, who was honored with awards for three columns on LGBT issues — two in the serious columns category and one in the lighter columns category.

The first serious column honor included one on his gay brother and his impending marriage in New York. A snippet:

This week, N.C. legislators dug in harder on keeping the wedding day away from gays, approving a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual marriage that will go before voters next May. Our state already has a law against gay marriage, of course, but a consititutional amendment is harder to change than a simple law. Gay marriage opponents know it’s their best chance at defending an institution they believe is under attack.

That’s a word – attack – that sneaks often into this gay marriage debate. And also this word: agenda. It’s how those who fear homosexuality separate gays from the rest of us, by painting them as “others,” as an occupying force that wants to diminish the things we hold important.

St. Onge was also honored for his serious column on the Mecklenburg County Commission’s inadequate response to Commissioner Bill James’ “sexual predator” comments. The kicker:

What did politeness accomplish Tuesday night? We got a thoughtfully worded resolution that opposed, in principle, speech that could hurt others. We also saw several members of Charlotte’s gay community speak eloquently on the issue and remind everyone, with their presence, that there’s pain at the other end of the arrows people fling.

Lastly, St. Onge’s lighter column on Wells Fargo’s rainbow lights show on its Uptown Duke Energy Building on National Coming Out Day in October 2010 also received a nod. In it, St. Onge recounted Wells Fargo’s fumbling over questions about who requested and decided to “light the Southern city’s evening sky with a 48-story stamp of approval for a gay and lesbian event.”

Congratulations, Peter! And, thank you. Charlotte is much better place because of your outspokenness and word wizardry.

Update (May 29, 2011, 3 p.m.): The Charlotte Observer has updated their story and replaced the phrase “civil disobedience” with “disorderly conduct.”
————

“One person was killed and another wounded in an incident apparently related to a night of civil disobedience by large numbers of people in Charlotte’s uptown,” writer Steve Lyttle originally reported for The Charlotte Observer on Sunday, May 29.

Lyttle’s story on the unrest following the last night of Speed Street in Uptown Charlotte reveals disorder, mayhem, rioting and violence. Four actions that rarely go hand-in-hand with concepts of civil disobedience.

But Lyttle and The Charlotte Observer need to know, just in case they don’t already: Gang-related rioting and murder is not the same as civil disobedience, a concept so intricately and almost exclusively linked to ideas of non-violent resistance and grassroots protest and peaceable assembly that Lyttle’s use of the phrase here is dead wrong — it’s also telling of a city and its social, media and government establishment that has time and time again shown itself averse to progressive political change on race, socioeconomic issues and LGBT equality.

It is disappointing that The Observer chooses to link concepts of social justice with gang-related violence. The paper’s report comes just one day after a true show of civil disobedience in Moscow, where LGBT activists marched and were arrested in defiance of a mayor and government establishment that had prohibited yet again a Pride parade and festival in Russia’s capital. There, several activists peacefully faced down Moscow police and neo-Nazi protesters in order to simply take part in what is already inherently theirs: the right to peacefully assemble, protest and petition their government for a redress of grievances. In this instance and in nearly all instances of civil disobedience it was the peaceful protesters who were at the receiving end, and not the perpetrators, of violence.

Unfortunately, Charlotte residents who read our daily newspaper of record will now link in their minds the peaceful concepts and actions of civil disobedience and non-violent resistance with gun-fighting, gang rioting and murder. The two are not the same, have never been the same and will never be the same.

The media has great power and with it comes great responsibility — to report news fairly, to report news accurately and to shy away from implications in their reporting that will result in the further abasement of already vulnerable minorities, people who historically have used civil disobedience as a peaceful means to achieve lasting and meaningful social change.

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CLT: Project LIFT goals are model for all

From The Charlotte Observer, regarding a new, privately-funded $55 million project to aid low-income and low-performing students in West Charlotte.

Project LIFT’s goals sound like an awfully good plan for all schools, nationwide.

From the story:

The project’s backers plan to help CMS recruit and retain high-performing educators for the schools, and will push for longer school days, summer programs and early-childhood education programs. It will also provide technology for students and help families better support their children’s education.

Longer school days are just common sense: Parents work to make money to put food on the table for eight-nine hours each day; why shouldn’t students be required to work for the same amount of time each day to gain knowledge to make a better life for themselves? Parents work all year-round. So should students.

We need a cultural and societal shift in values. Continue reading this post…

Some jobs aren’t fabulous. Many don’t get praise or recognition. Folks who work in these jobs are often given nary a passing thought by most people whose lives would be dramatically different if not for the services these workers provide.

There’s lots of examples. The garbage man (and woman) is one. Honestly, how many people think about the people who collect your trash on a weekly basis — the shit (figuratively and literally) they have to deal with as they weave their mammoth trucks through small neighborhood side streets picking up your untouchables?

Another example might be those who work for your municipality’s sewage and water treatment system or those who work for portable toilet services. That hot dog you ate at the county fair was mighty tasty, but you drop it off at the portable toilet and you’re on your way happily ever after. Tell me, have you ever paused to think what a Porta-John employee’s work day is like, cleaning up after your bodily waste? I doubt most people have.

Unfortunately, journalists get a similar type of treatment. Though journalists are far from ignored — because they’re regular targets of public disdain and contempt — they do live in a world where their jobs are largely underpaid, under-appreciated and under-utilized (especially as traditional, print news-media companies continue to languish in a lack of innovation under the ever-continuing move to online news and entertainment).

Ultimately, public disdain for journalism emanates, I believe, from a collective, public ignorance that neither understands nor really much cares about the types of real, meaningful and important services journalists actually provide their local communities, states and nation.

Such is the case with a recent example from The Charlotte Observer. Continue reading this post…

If you don’t live in Charlotte, Cleveland, Minneapolis or St. Louis, or if you aren’t a politics/news junky, or if you aren’t in someway involved in Democratic politics, you’ve likely not heard that Charlotte is in the running to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

But, if you do already know that have you yet heard all the discussion surrounding Charlotte’s current treatment of LGBT people and issues? Fear not, and find a comprehensive round-up of all the discussions below…

How do potential DNC 2012 host cities compare on LGBT equality?
July 13. InterstateQ.com
see also: Pam’s House Blend, DemConWatch

A reality check for my own enthusiasm for Charlotte Hosting the DNC2012.
July 13. Mark Wisniewski

Open letter to the DNC: LGBT Charlotteans need the 2012 Democratic Convention.
July 27. InterstateQ.com
see also: Pam’s House Blend, DemConWatch

DNC 2012 as Therapy for Local Gays.
July 27. Meck Deck

Interesting Open Letter* by Matt Comer.
July 27. Mark Wisniewski

City failing on DNC platform issue: treatment of gays, lesbians.
Aug. 15. Charlotte Observer
see also: Mark Wisniewski’s longer, original commentary

Wisniewski on the Keith Larson Show.
Aug. 17. QNotes

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Charlotte O’s social media conference

You know the media world has definitively changed when the local daily newspaper announces its hosting a social media conference.

The Charlotte Observer will host their day-long conference on Jan. 23 at Queens University:

Throughout the day, you’ll hear from some of the most forward-thinking social media gurus in the region, including Jeff Elder, Lisa Hoffman, Crystal Dempsey, Scott Hepburn and Jason Silverstein. Observer Editor Rick Thames will deliver the keynote address. Capping it all off will be a panel discussion on “The Next Hot Thing in Social Networking.”

The event is only $30, but there are only 200 spaces open. If you want to go, you’d better register quick. Get more info and register at ObserverSocialMedia.com.

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A gay Christmas and a Mary in drag

Not that we really had any control over it here in the U.S. or anything, but I bet this comes back to haunt us sometime, some how:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands Amsterdam hosted a Christmas celebration for its gay community on Sunday featuring a nativity tableau with a male Mary in drag that church organizations denounced as an affront to traditional values.

Organizers said the event was meant to raise Amsterdam’s profile as a gay capital at a time when homosexuals feel threatened.

Christians for Truth, an independent religious group, had asked the city council to cancel the “Pink Christmas,” event, saying it made a mockery of Christian tenets. The city did not comment.

A male entertainer known as Wendy Mills posed as Mary in a blonde wig and high-heeled black boots and holding a plastic doll. Another man played Joseph in black leather trunks and a silver shawl.

Read the rest…