We here in the activist community are constantly discussing what is or is not a purposeful or effective action to take against anti-gay bigots. Most protests are essentially rallies where a crowd is educated on a matter, listen to some speakers, perhaps march and carry some signs. The challenge in our multi-media age though, is trying to find something interesting that people might want to show up for.
Students at Minnesota State University, Mankata have been putting up with Rev. John Chisham of the River of Life Alliance Church, visiting their campus and spewing anti-gay rhetoric. Students have described his diatribes as rude and hurtful, especially towards gay people. The students were completely aware that it was Chisham’s First Amendment Right to say whatever he wanted to say, so they never tried to suppress his appearances.
Then Sophomore Tara Mitchell had the idea to visit the preacher’s church and give him a dose of his own medicine. She gathered several students and stood up in front of Chisham’s church service (held at the local YMCA) with posters highlighting the recent gay teen suicides. The protest was a silent and effective one.
Of course Chisham has filed complaints with the school wanting the students and their adviser punished for interrupting his service. The same students who would not ask to have Chisham removed from their campus have not been shown the same First Amendment Rights-respect as they showed this adult preacher.
It should be noted that John Chisham is the same guy who ranted at this year’s Twin Cities Pride events. Check out that story at JoeMyGod.
Congrats to these students for taking the higher road and for creating a peaceful, respectful event that demonstrated we can be creative, inspiring and take part in some incredible activism.