City of Orlando buying Pulse nightclub

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In this photo from the Orlando Sentinel, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lays a bouquet of roses at the makeshift memorial to the Pulse victim, shortly after the shooting.

The city of Orlando has reached a deal to buy the Pulse nightclub and will turn the site into a permanent memorial to the 49 people killed and 53 injured when a gunman walked into the club in the early morning hours of June 12 and opened fire with a semiautomatic, assault-style rifle.

The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting committed by one person in U.S. history. The gunman was killed by police.

The city has agreed to pay $2.25 million for the club, and Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel the city won’t be rushing to change the club, which has become a gathering place for mourners — both locals and visitors.

“There are lots of people that are making a visit to the site part of their trip, part of their experience of Orlando, so I think 12 to 18 months of leaving it as-is would be appropriate,” Dyer told the newspaper.

Many of those who have visited the site since the shooting have left behind photos, notes, stuffed animals and more. The Orange County Regional History Center has collected many of the items to preserve them. A black chain-link fence had surrounded the club since right after the shooting. The city removed that fence in September, replacing it with a new barrier placed further back from the road and wrapped in a screen featuring images created by local artists.

The mayor also said city officials will be asking the community for ideas on what form the memorial should take, and that they haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving at least some part of the site intact — for instance, the roadside sign bearing the “now-iconic” Pulse logo.

Dyer said the ultimate goal is to “create something to honor the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”

The sales contract with the city was signed Friday by Rosario Poma, who owns the club with his wife, Barbara. Orlando’s City Council, which has the final say on the deal, will weigh in on it next week. Barbara Pomo opened in the bar in 2004 and named it Pulse in honor of her brother, John, who died of AIDS in 1991.

Below is video from the city of Orlando website of Mayor Buddy Dyer explaining the decision to buy the site:

—  Tammye Nash

Anti-gay pastor kicked out of Botswana for hate speech

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Homophobic asshole Steven Anderson

Last week Brent Paxton wrote this story for Dallas Voice about the government of South Africa banning LGBT-hating so-called “pastor” Steven Anderson from entering their country because of his nasty anti-LGBT “sermons” and hate speech.

Now officials with the government of Botswana have announced that they have deported Anderson from that country. Botswana President Ian Khama of Botswana on Tuesday, Sept. 20, told Reuters he had ordered that Anderson be arrested and deported.

Khama told Reuters he had ordered Anderson’s immediate arrest and deportation after the pastor said in an interview with a local radio station in the capital Gabarone on that morning that gays and lesbians should be killed.

That kinds of hatefulness is par for the course for Anderson, “pastor” at Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, who applauded the June 12 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, saying after the shooting that “there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world.”

During the radio interview Tuesday, Anderson said that the government should kill lesbians and gays, said the victims at Pulse were “disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says were worthy of death” and called for pedophiles and adulterers to be killed and said the Bible barred women from preaching in church.

Botswana immigration officers were reportedly with Anderson when he left the radio station, but he has denied being deported, saying instead that he left voluntarily.

According to the Washington Blade, a spokesperson for the organization Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana said that group was told Anderson assaulted someone who attended his church service in Botswana on Monday, Sept. 19, claiming on the LGBB blog that Anderson called the person “a fag, a homosexual … with a mouth full of AIDS” before having the man forcibly removed.

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana had called on their government last week to follow South Africa’s lead and bar Anderson from the country, the Blade reports, and this week applauded the government’s decision to deport him, “in the process defend[ing] its citizens.”

—  Tammye Nash

Man who survived Pulse shooting found dead at party

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After surviving the shooting at the Pulse nightclub, Chris Brodman got a tattoo over his heart in memory of the 49 victims. Brodman was found dead last Sunday at a party in Tampa.

A man who made it safely out of the Pulse nightclub after the shooting started in the early morning hours of June 12 was found dead at a birthday party last weekend, according to reports by The Advocate.

Chris Brodman, 34, was at a birthday party in Tampa early Sunday morning, when someone found his body in the backyard of a residence on Garden Lake Circle. Paramedics who reported to the scene at 1:17 a.m. attempted to resuscitate Brodman, but he was declared dead shortly afterward.

Officials with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office told the Advocate in an email that the body showed no signs of violence and that the “final conclusion of the official cause of death is pending additional forensics and toxicology examination.”

Brodman had said that he was smoking a cigarette that night at Pulse nightclub when he heard the first gunshots ring out. He thought at first it was just the beat of the music, but when he saw the bloodied bodies began falling, he took cover under a table until he was able to run to safety across the street, according to the Advocate.

Brodman said later that surviving the shooting had given him a “new lease on life,” and that he intended to go back to school, travel abroad and live his life to the fullest. He had even gotten a tattoo over his heart to commemorate the victims at Pulse.

—  Tammye Nash

Pulse hero to be honored by AMPA

 Imran Yousuf

Imran Yousuf

Imran Yousuf will be honored with the 2016 AMPA Community Hero Award at the inaugural American Military Partner Association West Coast Gala on Saturday, Sept. 17 in San Diego.

Yousuf, a recent Marine Corps veteran, is widely credited with having saved more than 70 lives during the June 12 Pulse massacre in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in modern United States history.
Yousef worked as a bouncer at the club.

“Imran represents the best of America and the best of America’s military community, as evidenced by his quick and heroic actions amid the chaos and carnage of the tragedy in Orlando,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “While he humbly may not consider himself a hero, his courageous actions in the face of mortal danger that saved the lives of more than 70 of our LGBT brothers and sisters say otherwise. He is certainly a hero to our community and to all of America, and we are proud to honor Imran with our 2016 Community Hero Award at the inaugural AMPA West Coast Gala in San Diego.”

Since the shooting, Yousuf has only made one other public appearance — when he served as honorary grand marshal of the Houston Pride Parade in June.

Yousef served as an engineer equipment electrical systems technician in the Marine Corps from 2010-2016, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

—  David Taffet

S. Florida man threatens to attack to ‘exterminate’ gay men

jungwirthSouth Florida’s LGBT community — and law enforcement — are on high alert this week after a local man posted numerous threats against LGBT people on Instagram, claiming that what he is “planning for Labor Day” will be worse than the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The shooting at Pulse left 49 victims and the shooter dead, and another 53 people wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Impulse South Florida, the local chapter of the national volunteer HIV/AIDS education and advocacy organization, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, posted screen captures of Craig Jungwirth’s posts on Instagram from that same day, along with a photo of Jungwirth himself (see above) and a warning to be on the look out for him.

In the posts, which appear to be part of a conversation with a man named David Herbert, Jungwirth says, “My events are selling out cause you faggots are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.”

When Herbert replies that Jungwirth is “fucking crazy” and that he is calling police, Jungwirth continues, “You can never catch a genius from MIT and since you faggots are dying from AIDS anymore, I have a better solution to exterminate you losers. …

“I’m gonna be killing you fags faster than cops kill niggers. It’s time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”

In posting the screen caps to the Impulse South Florida Facebook page, representatives of the organization said Jungwirth has made other “extreme posts” on Instagram, and that he “has been known to be in Wilton Manors and Orlando.” Wilton Manors is located just north of Fort Lauderdale.

In a statement to Dallas Voice on Wednesday, Aug. 31, via Impulse Dallas representative Erik Vasquez, Impulse United Vice President and Impulse South Florida representative A.J. Alegria said, “All local law enforcement has been notified and are working on [Jungwirth]. Our close friend is the captain of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. He has been communicating with use. We have been directing everyone to law enforcement. The FBI has also been notified.”

LGBT media in the South Florida area earlier this year — including Peacock Panache and South Florida Gay News — outed Jungwirth as a scam artist, noting that he had taken over the Beach Bear Weekend event in Florida and used it to scam money from the LGBT community. As Tim Peacock with Peacock Panache reported, “What began as a story of his harassment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence exploded after information surfaced that not only were the events listed for his Beach Bear Weekend event fake but also all hotel bookings through the event website didn’t actually reserve local hotels.”

Peacock said that after he published stories about that situation, Jungwirth “embarked on a harassment campaign” against Peacock Panache and its writers, sent harassing text messages, left “vaguely threatening voice mails,” left spam and threats on the Peacock Panache’s social media pages and comments sections and “even attempted to hack our server several times to access the articles written about him.”

NBC 6 News out of Miami reports that Jungwirth “has a lengthy criminal history which includes stalking charges,” and “a handful of restraining orders” against him. The TV station also said Facebook has deleted Jungwirth’s profile.

Dallas Voice has contacted police departments in both Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale for information and we are awaiting their responses. But NBC 6 says police departments in the area — and the LGBT community — are taking the threats seriously. You can watch NBC 6’s report below.

—  Tammye Nash

VIDEO: Drag Star Divas for Pulse

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Last month — on Sunday, July 17 — 22 of the top drag performers in North Texas and beyond gathered for a marathon drag show at The Rose Room in Station 4, that raised nearly $10,000 for the LGBT Center of Central Florida, in honor of the 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the June 12 mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse.

Here’s video of the show, and some of the performers talking about what it meant to them to participate.

—  Tammye Nash

Clinton pays unexpected visit to Pulse, meets with victims, families

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Tweet by NPR’s Tamara Keith showing Hillary Clinton talking to first responders outside Pulse nightclub during an unannounced visit to Orlando Friday, July 22.

With the start of the Democratic National Convention just a few days away — and with just about the whole country anxiously waiting for her to announce her choice of a running mate — presumptive Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton instead chose to make an unannounced visit Friday, July 22, to Orlando where she met privately with survivors and families of victims of the June 12 mass shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse, according to The New Civil Rights Movement and other sources.

Clinton also held a roundtable discussion with the victims and family members and community leaders, before visiting the site of the nightclub to pay her respects and meet with first responders.

According to a tweet by NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, staff a Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn went into a meeting at 3 p.m. expecting to hear who the candidate had chosen as VP, but were told they have to wait until “an undisclosed time” to find out that info.

Jennifer King with Associated Press Radio tweeted that after meeting with victims, families and community leaders, Clinton “is saying we need to stand united against bigotry.” BuzzFeedNews political reporter Ruby Cramer tweeted that the candidate said, “It’s still dangerous to be LGBT in America…an unfortunate fact but one that needs to be said.” And Bloomberg Politics reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted that Clinton told those in Orlando, “I really am here to listen to what your experiences have been and wha twe do need to do together.”

—  Tammye Nash

Drag Star Divas brings in big bucks for Orlando victims

Drag Stars Diva Logo

Drag Star Divas for Orlando, a show held Sunday night, July 17, at The Rose Room in S4, raised $8,500 in about two hours to benefit the victims of the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The event featured more than 30 performers, including Rose Room regulars, RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, Mr. Gay USofA winner and even Alyssa Edwards’ Beyond Belief dance team.

Below are photos taken by Dallas Voice’s Chad Mantooth, and even a brief video snippet of a performance by Kennedy Davenport. Watch for more photos in the Scene section of the Friday, July 22 issue of Dallas Voice.

—  Tammye Nash

Rev. Stephen Sprinkle: The power of lament and fierce love

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School, flanked by other ministers, ended the protest with prayer. Other ministers attending included Chaplain Aaron Burk, the Rev. Mark Weathers of University Christian Church, the Rev. Heather Dunham of Universal Life Church, and the Rev. Russell Dalton with Brite Divinity School.

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School, flanked by other ministers, ended the protest with prayer. Other ministers attending included Chaplain Aaron Burk, the Rev. Mark Weathers of University Christian Church, the Rev. Heather Dunham of Universal Life Church, and the Rev. Russell Dalton with Brite Divinity School.

The following are remarks delivered by the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle during the rally outside Stedfast Baptist Church Sunday morning, June 26, as part of a demonstration to confront hate speech by Stedfast’s pastor, Donnie Romero.

Lament, Discover, and Repair
A message for the I AM DONE Stedfast Baptist Church Protest
Sansom Park, Texas, June 26, 2016
Stephen V. Sprinkle
Brite Divinity School

The Orlando massacre has forced America to stare into the abyss of our broken society. We have recoiled from what we have seen: not only the brutality of fear and loathing that took so many lives at the Pulse nightclub that night, but also the sickening complicity of a national culture that has set up the conditions for the slaughter of our people for generations.

Our feelings of remorse and loss are real and sharply painful; our burning anger is hot and real, as well.

But we cannot allow the abyss of race hatred, misogyny and heterosexist privilege to paralyze us with fear or anger — not again!

If others must continue the endless finger-pointing, let them. Not us, not again, not now!

We have a gaping hole in the American character to fix, and it will take all of us to do it, queer folk of faith, faith-free queer folk and allies alike. The spiritual resources that belong to American LGBTQ people are at hand, and we must discover how to use them to heal our broken hearts, our troubled minds, and to repair the ruins that yawn up at us from the abyss that bears so many names:

  • Orlando
  • Mother Emanuel A.M.E.
  • Sandy Hook Elementary
  • The Upstairs Lounge Inferno
  • Wisconsin Sikh Temple
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
  • Aurora, Colorado, and
  • Virginia Tech, and more.

We must act according to the sources of our power, no matter what makes us afraid. The practice of lament clears the spiritual space that makes effective action possible.

Sadness can empower our souls as well as dis-empower them. We can erect shrines that tie us to the past, or we can discover the power to lament as a people until hope takes the place of despair.

Phyllis Trible, the ground-breaking author of Texts of Terror who told the stories of the wrong done to biblical women, has said that mourning alone changes little. But true change comes from insight, a change that can inspire individuals and even a whole generation to repentance.

She writes: “In other words, sad stories may yield new beginnings.”

God knows, we have sad stories, and plenty of them. What we must find is the courage to cry out in public acts of lament that change despair into hope.

Rabbi Denise Eger, lesbian and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, shows us how to turn sorrow into a new kind of power for good:

Sister that I never held near,
Brother that I never embraced, our memory is almost lost:
The one we don’t talk about.
The loving one who never married.
The one for whom no Kaddish was said.
Your loneliness calls out to me:
I know of your struggles, we are not strangers,
And if my path is easier, I will not forget who walked it first.
We call you to mind, but did you not sometimes think of us,
Your children, lovers across the years,
Those who would follow and would think of you and bless your memory
And call you to mind?
With David and Jonathan, we will not forget you,
With Ruth and Naomi, we will not forget you,
In the name of God you are our sisters and our brothers, and we ask that you be remembered for peace.

When we cry out to God from the depths of our collective sorrow, as my friend, Dean Joretta Marshall, of Brite Divinity School says, we begin to discover new possibilities for memory, compassion, empathy, and vision.

As we collaborate publicly in acts of lament when we are overwhelmed, we discover new ways to collaborate together in “life-giving hope.”

Protests are important, but they do not capture the spiritual power of crying out together so that our despair may turn into hope, and inspiration gives our activism fresh ideas to address the venom the LGBTQ community faces, much of it inflicted in the name of religion.

Sorrow is not a destination. We need movements, not monuments or shrines, movements of “life-giving hope.” So, together, before all the world, with our enemies included, we cry out until despair begins to transform into something new.

We remember before God the tens of thousands of our LGBTQ family martyred in years gone by. We remember those who died in the Inquisition, the Middle Passage, the Witch Craze, the Holocaust, and the struggle for civil rights.

We refuse to forget those, driven to despair by a world that hated them and who they loved, who took their own lives rather than face any longer the intolerable.

And we cannot forget those who lived out their days lonely, repressed, and afraid to reach out for affection and comfort, too hurt to give or receive the love they craved.

To us, in the memories we share in our seasons of lament, they have all become the martyrs of God, signs that we must make the world better than they found it. In the name of love, we pray, “O God, remember the sacrifices of these martyrs, and help us to bring and end to hate and oppression of every kind!”

We say and we believe that “Love Wins!” But in the struggle to repair the world, we have learned that love must be ferocious to win the new world we seek for ourselves, our children, and for everyone.

The story of the struggle for our human rights has lessons to teach, and one of the undeniable lessons of our history is that LGBTQ people have never been “given” anything. The heterosexist society in which we live never surrenders its power willingly. Our freedom has had to be won.

If our great theme is LOVE, from the right to love the one we choose, or the love of country that inspired us to defy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to the love of human life itself because we are a people who are represented everywhere — in every group and race, and in every known social demographic from the beginning of recorded history — then we know from our own collective experience that love must be fierce in order for it to survive.

There is something divine in love like that, a divine imperative that will not be forestalled any longer, or postponed, or sidetracked. From the days of our forebears in the 19th century, we began to network across the boundaries of nations, to count the ever growing number of ourselves, and to realize that we were a powerful people united by a new sense of the possibilities of love.

Today, we are strengthened by amazing allies from every walk of life who understand that their future and ours are bound up with us in a contest to determine whether diversity and pluralism will prevail in our world, or whether patriarchal fear of immigrants, gender non-conformity, non-Caucasian people, and non-Judeo-Christian faiths — fears intensified by the rejection of the leadership gifts of women — will drag us backward.

Our most powerful ally in LGBTQ history, President Barack Obama, has shown us what a love with real backbone looks like. Like many of our allies, the president had to evolve in this thinking about what justice and equality for LGBTQ people called him to do. Once he got there, to the place of true equality and justice, he became our full-throated advocate.

His spiritual mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., taught him to face challenges with “the fierce urgency of now.” We LGBTQ people found that vision to resonate powerfully with our experiences of struggle beyond any counted cost, and, inspired by President Obama, we have recast Dr. King’s idea in our own way. We serve a vision inspired by “the fierce urgency of love.”

“The fierce urgency of love”:

  • Love that refuses to be anemic in the face of hard times.
  • Love that has a spine, and bows before no opponent.
  • Love that will not back down, and will not back up.
  • Love that knows how and when to get loud and be proud.
  • A love where Everybody is Somebody, and nobody is a nobody.

Our activism at its best is motivated by the fierce urgency of a love that will not permit churches, synagogues, and mosques to remain silent on the sidelines of the struggle for justice, for silence in the face of injustice is its own form of spiritual violence.

The fierce urgency of love compels us to give no free passes when religious leaders of any stripe breathe out venom and hatred toward marginalized people. That is why we oppose religious intolerance to the same degree we oppose political and economic harms done to LGBTQ people in North Texas and anywhere else.

We have learned the lessons of ferocious love: that hate speech from any pulpit or from any rostrum in a governmental chamber is the ammunition that kills and maims real people, as surely as any bullet. We cannot permit any leader to hijack religion and force it into the service of oppression of any kind any longer without our calling out such an outrage.

As Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders, the pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church near Harvard Yard, a proud gay man says:

“For LGBTQ people, the mechanisms of oppression have nearly always been waged first against our souls. But it never ends there. This spiritual violence has led to innumerable suicides, hate crime violence beyond what we know through the collected statistics, and the marginalization of LGBTQ people in the very institutions they should feel most at home: their families, their churches, and their communities.”

Sanders calls for spiritual reparations for the harm done to the souls of LGBTQ people, a fierce love of God and neighbor that seeks to heal the hurt and repair the broken world. Like Sanders, in the name of love, we must fiercely call for real and practical actions:

  • For LGBTQ homeless youth in our cities,
  • For effective ways to prevent LGBTQ suicides,
  • For funding for LGBTQ seminarians so that they can become faith leaders throughout America,
  • For the recruitment of qualified LGBTQ candidates to run for public office,
  • For literacy in LGBTQ life and history, and engagement between established cisgender and straight clergy with queer leaders in their communities, and especially
  • For churches and religion-based non-profits to stand up to their denominations and parent organizations when they participate in anti-LGBTQ discrimination by thought, deed, or silence.

Sanders concludes with the forthright demand of a community that knows how to stand tall and true, and has the courage to repair a broken world even in the face of spiritual opposition:

“Churches owe LGBTQ people a spiritual debt,” he says, “for the decades upon decades of violence against our souls. It’s time to start paying up.”

The Hebrew prophets sounded like that, didn’t they? That is an important dimension of the spiritual heritage of the LGBTQ human rights movement that was first born and nurtured in churches and synagogues in the pre-Stonewall era, and right up until this very day.

I work alongside lesbian, gay, and straight colleagues of courage at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, who like Cody Sanders, want to transform the world in which we live. So, with the whole Cloud of Witnesses, from the time of the Hebrew Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Prophet Muhammad, to the millions of LGBTQ people and our allies right here and right now, together with the Prophet Isaiah, we say:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

Our greatest asset as a Queer/LGBT community, you see, lies in far more than our numbers, our economic strength, and our political allies. It lies in our spirituality of collaborating hope, hope forged in the furnace of our tests and trials, made powerful by the vision of a better world than we have ever known.

Our enemies are real. Their guns and their words spit fire and death. They misunderstand, sometimes with lethal consequences, who we are and what we contribute to the common world in which we all dwell.

But we know wherein our power truly lies, for as our Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde, taught us, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Rise up, then!

We LGBTQ people were never meant to settle into paralysis, depression and despair on the far side of the pit our adversaries dug for us. It is time to build a bridge across the abyss that swallowed up our Orlando sisters and brothers. Bring your energies, your tools, and your resolve. We have at hand the resources of a rich spirituality, and a fierce, divine love.

There is a world to repair.

 

—  Tammye Nash

#IAmDone stages rally against pastor’s hate speech in Fort Worth

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About 50 people organized by #IAmDone, a new direct action group created in the wake of the June 12 murders at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, staged a peaceful protest across the street from Steadfast Baptist Church in Sansom City on Sunday morning, June 26, speaking out against hateful comments made by the pastor of the church.

The main goal of Sunday’s protest, said organizer Karen McCronklin, was “to make a peaceful response to a hateful statement.”

On Thursday, June 16 — just five days after a gunman armed with an assault rifle murdered 49 men and women at Pulse, and injured more than 50 others — Steadfast Baptist Pastor Donnie Romero posted a video on YouTube, in which he defended hate speech by another homophobic preacher, Roger Jimenez of Sacramento, Calif., and said that the men and women killed in Orlando deserved to die.
“These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles,” Romero sad in his video. “They’re the scum of the earth and the earth is a better place now and I’ll take it a step further. … I’ll pray to God like I did this morning, and I will again tonight, that God will finish the job that that man started.”

That kind of hatefulness, said McCrocklin and others at the rally, cannot go unchallenged anymore.”When this kind of hate speech happens, we’re going to take a stand against it,” organizer Steve Atkinson said.

After #IAmDone first announced plans to protest outside Romero’s church, the pastor said publicly that he and others in his congregations carry guns and would not hesitate to use them to defend their church. That put the #IAmDone organizers, already on high alert for violence in the wake of Orlando, in an even more protective stance, and even more determined to meet Romero’s hate with peace.

Protest organizers worked with police in Fort Worth and Sansom Park to make sure the protest was as peaceful and safe as possible. The group then gathered in a parking lot about a block away from the church and marched with a police escort to a spot just across the Jacksoboro highway from the church.

Protestors sang “Jesus Loves Me” as they waved a rainbow flag and a transgender Pride flag, along with posters bearing messages of pride and love.

One poster bore photos of iconic Dallas couple Jack Evans and George Harris, and the words “This is what love looks like.” Evans and Harris were together more than 50s years, and were the first same-sex couple legally married in Dallas County last year. Evans died Friday after a lengthy illness.

In addition to chants and singing, McCrocklin read aloud the names of those killed in Orlando and the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle with Brite Divinity School at TCU led the group in prayer.

Among those attending the protest were Dale Blackwood and Clint Nelson, Sansom Park residents who have been together 17 years. The owners of the dry cleaners they use — Morenos — brought a flat of water for protestors, as did the owners of River Oaks Café. Alan Small, another Sansom Park resident, brought his three children to join the protest.

Another man, who identified himself as a former Baptist minister who is now an atheist, said he hadn’t known about the planned protest when he decided to come and protest Romero’s remarks. “I was really surprised to see all these people here,” he said. “I expected to be here by myself. But I am glad everyone came out.”

#IAmDone was created to be able to organize quickly to answer hate with peaceful direct action. Organizers said they expect to stay busy once the Texas Legislature convenes in January. Most of those involved — McCrocklin and her partner, Marla Custard, Atkinson and his husband, Ted Kincaid, spouses Patti Fink and Erin Moore, and others — are longtime activists in the LGBT community.

Check the #IAmDone Facebook page for information.

See photos of the rally below.

—  Tammye Nash