Yesterday was Philadelphia’s Pride Festival. Donna and I attempted to brave the heat for awhile – it really was unpleasant in the city. With an actual high of 94 degrees and a heat index in the city of close to 100, we knew we were in for a long day. Still, we slathered on the sunblock and managed to get in and out of the city with very little trouble. Since last year’s Pride, Donna has taken public transport into the city with me on several occasions, so she seems to have gotten used to it. We headed back to the judging stand area this year, which is directly in front of the Independence Center – good choice, as we were able to briefly escape into the air conditioning at the Independence Center.

The parade was amusing, as usual – it’s nice to be in the middle of the city with a bunch of people who don’t look at you funny for holding hands. There were lots of families in attendance too – more young children this year than I remember seeing previously. And more high school kids, too – there was one particularly excited group of young kids, probably sophomores or juniors, who were very excited to be part of the Pride celebration. And the floats were similar to last years – dykes on bikes, the Flaggots (which is a queer colorguard), the gay family associations, community services organizations, etc. Probably most touching for me was the man who walked alone, with no official affiliation. He carried a handmade sign that read “Gay Vet” – and beneath that some text about how he contributed to the fight for gay rights. He got some pretty loud applause.

And, as always, RepentAmerica joined in the fun too. You might recall my Pride recap from last year, which included a few pictures of the fun. It seems that RepentAmerica brought the same signs and megaphone system (and the same tee shirts!) back with them this year. They started up around 11:50, and continued spewing their anti-gay rhetoric until the parade came within earshot, at which point they disbanded – once again, their handheld megaphone was no match for the judging stand’s electronic PA system. But during their discourse, they made pointed comments toward specific individuals, which was unlike last year – seems they’re getting a little more aggressive. One of their crew, who spent the majority of his time on the megaphone, shared that he is an ex-gay, and that the love of Jesus Christ saved him from his homosexual lifestyle. And it can save us, too. This drew a huge amount of laughter from the crowd, of course.

And there were some good distractions from RepentAmerica – for instance, the gentleman wearing a “Hope For Homosexuals” tee shirt (which featured an arrow pointing toward his crotch) who danced, gyrated, and simulated all sorts of sexual acts directly in front of the RA folks, to the delight of the crowd. Even the ex-gay on the megaphone was laughing – he just couldn’t help himself.

So it got me thinking: RepentAmerica spends a lot of time attempting to convey the gospel of Christ to people at queer pride events all over the country. Because they’re Philadelphia based, however, they are at every Philly Pride event, including the June Pride events and the October OutFest events. Considering their history at Philly Pride events, which they document publicly, it’s fairly clear that the organizers of the Philadelphia Pride Festival and the OutFest don’t want RepentAmerica to attend anymore. And judging by the reaction of the Pride-goers on Sunday, a large majority of them also don’t want RepentAmerica to attend events anymore. So why do they keep coming back?

The easiest answer, of course, is that they feel it’s their “duty” to continue to evangelize, to save all fallen gays from their horrible, horrible fate of burning in Hell for all eternity. But this is something I just really don’t understand about debates in general, and Christians in particular: people hold opinions and beliefs, and arguing / bashing / standing on the sidewalk with a megaphone to loudly declare those beliefs is not going to change another person’s mind. So why do they keep falling back on the same methods? Why do they continue to use abrasive, offensive and hostile language and actions to attract attention? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial – and likely more effective – to reach out with kindness and compassion, rather than to shout from the street corners? Yes, there’s a whole contingent of Christians who believe that fire-and-brimstone preaching is the way to scare the Christ into people, but I would anticipate it’s a lot less effective than those organizations who seek to find some common foundation. And I know that these two factions of Christianity will take turns pointing at each other, shouting about how the other doesn’t truly belong to the body of Christ’s churches.

But this kind of stone-throwing ‘evangelism’ basically leads me to believe that the throwers of said stones aren’t actually looking to convert anyone. After all, it’s pretty clear that nobody likes a lecture, and most often lectures aren’t the best way to get a person to change his or her ways – especially if you’re looking for change without resentment (says the mother of a 5-year-old). So what is it they’re looking for, really?

After perusing the RepentAmerica photo galleries for awhile, I came to my own conclusion. See if you can guess what it is, based on these photos, all taken from the RepentAmerica collection:

If you guessed that I think the folks at RepentAmerica have a thing for good looking boys in short shorts and drag queens, you’re right! You win! And your prize: the status of Honorary Lesbian for a Day (if you’re actually a lesbian, well, then, good for you!).

Do I actually think it’s that simple? No. Not really. But I do wonder why they insist on:

I don’t go to Vacation Bible Schools and Christian music festivals looking to convert their teenagers to The Homosexual Lifestyle using The Homosexual Agenda. I wish they would stay home on Pride Days.

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