LGBTQ+ leaders speak out after incidents of alleged intolerance

Recent displays of intolerance has local LGBTQ+ leaders scratching their heads but unwavering in their efforts at inclusion.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Recent displays of intolerance have local LGBTQ+ leaders scratching their heads but unwavering in their efforts at inclusion.

Unitarian Universalists in Auburn has always been a place for folks from all walks of life.

Formerly known as Ebenezer Baptist Church, the first Black church established in Lee County after the civil war -- it now serves Reverend Chris Rothbauer and the church’s diverse congregation.

According to Rothbauer, the church’s sign was spray painted over the weekend with an Anti-LGBTQ+ message. The Reverend says it’s the seventh time something like that has happened.

“I know for many of my folks, it was very hurtful. It reminded them that they live in a community where not everyone values them or their existence.”, said Rothbauer. “There are still a lot of people in the world who don’t want us to exist, who would much prefer we shut up and sit down and don’t say anything. If the police were to catch who did this. I would hope we could come to a restorative solution where the person’s sentence would be they have to come get to know us.”

It’s a type of intolerance Executive Director of Colgay Pride, Jeremy Hobbs, is no stranger to.

Police in Columbus had to step in at a drag queen story time event over the weekend.

Hobbs said protestors, who did not have a permit from the city to gather, were screaming anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at the Colgay pride group while they were reading to kids. News Leader 9 tried to reach out to the protestors, but because they didn’t apply for a permit to protest there’s no record of the organizers.

“We’re sitting out there trying to teach diversity. Trying to teach love thy neighbor and accept everyone for who they are. It’s ridiculous that people want to go backwards. I’m all about freedom of speech. Absolutely. But at the same time. Please don’t scare our kids.”, said Rothbauer. “You can either be bad and join the team, or you can set an example and move forward.”

Hobbs says interruptions like this are becoming all too common at similar events across the country. However, he and The Reverend Rothbauer are taking a page out of the book of Gandhi and turning the other cheek to intolerance.

Auburn Police are investigating the church vandalism. So far, no info has come out about any arrests or suspects. In the meantime, church leadership says they plan to use cheaper signs as an alternative.