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Letter to the Editor: Come Show Your Support for the Defiance Pride Parade on June 24

letter to the editor

Letter submitted to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

Last year, I participated in Defiance’s pride parade — a first for me. I came of age in the Evangelical church, attended an Evangelical college in the 1970s, married an Evangelical preacher’s daughter, and pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years. I was virulently homophobic. Not that I knew any LGBTQ people — I didn’t. I would later learn that several of the people who called me pastor were, in fact, gay. Children, at the time, they were forced to endure attacks on their persons, complete with quoted Bible verses and a pulpit-pounding “thus saith the Lord.”

In the mid-90s, I met a gay man in the course of my work for a restaurant in Zanesville. We offered free drinks to mall employees. All they had to do is bring their refillable cup to the store and we would refill it. I vividly remember the first time this man handed me his cup to fill. I thought, “does he have AIDS? Could I get it?” Over time, I got to know him — a delightful human being. I wish meeting him put an end to my homophobia, but it didn’t. It was, however, a first step towards where I am today — an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ people.

What caused the transformation in my life? Certainly, leaving Evangelicalism helped, but the biggest influence was actually meeting and befriending LGBTQ people. Having a widely read blog helped too. This exposed me to people different from me. Sadly, many of the locals who angrily oppose LGBTQ people on social media and on the editorial page of the Crescent-News, live in religious monocultures, safely protected from icky gay people. One local Baptist preacher preached numerous sermons on the evil “transgenders.” No LGBTQ people attend his church, but much like the Jim Crow preachers of yesteryear, he wants his congregation to know who the real enemies are.

On Saturday, June 24, there will be another pride parade in Defiance. Hundreds of people attended the first one, and I hope even more will attend this one. Opposition to the parade is organizing, promising to picket the event. Some of these followers of Jesus are even encouraging people to “open carry,” subtly threatening violence toward peaceful parade participants.

I hope people will ignore the protesters, choosing instead to show their support for the LGBTQ community. It’s time for all of us to come out of the closet.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    Bruce, you have made remarkable changes in your beliefs. Your experience shows how important it is for people to get outside their bubble or monoculture and genuinely interact with others.

  2. Avatar
    MJ LIsbeth

    Roy–Heterosexuals who love each other are supported every day. Why does it bother you to dedicate a month to men who love other men or women who love other women–or, for that matter, any person who doesn’t identify within the gender binary loving, or being loved by, anybody?

    Bruce–I admire your courage.

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