(Photo: Screengrab/Voice of the Voiceless)
The first-ever "Ex-Gay Pride Month" reception, scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. on July 31, has been postponed until September following multiple security threats directed toward members of the ex-gay community and the Family Research Council, where a reception celebrating ex-gay leaders and supporters was planned to be held.
Christopher Doyle, the co-founder of Voice of the Voiceless (VoV), told The Christian Post on Tuesday that VoV and Equality and Justice for All have decided to continue to hold some Ex-Gay Pride events in the nation's capital at the end of the month, which will be posted on the VoV website later this week, but the reception at the FRC building has been postponed and moved to an undisclosed location to ensure the safety of speakers and guests at the event.
"When we announced that this event was going to happen at FRC about two weeks ago, we received – as did FRC – a lot of attention, which was good, but we also received a lot of negative attention," Doyle explained. "Some liberal news organizations, like the Huffington Post, started saying things about this event that weren't true, like it was being sponsored and run by FRC just because FRC was the venue. And that wasn't true at all. So that riled up a lot of people who don't like FRC, because FRC takes a very traditional stance on marriage, and they're considered, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to be one of those anti-gay hate groups."
According to Doyle, the comments made against the Ex-Gay Pride month led to him and others receiving hate-filled emails and harassment over the phone. "And there started to be a lot of online chatter about trying to disrupt this event," he added, "trying to demonstrate against it, trying to protest it. Basically, after experiencing all of that hate and harassment toward us online and also directed at FRC, we just started to take a second look at this event."
Doyle added that after receiving threatening messages from anti-ex-gay extremists, he and other organizers were concerned about a repeat of the violence in Seattle, Wash., where Christians were recently attacked for opposing homosexuality. He said they were also concerned about the safety and security at the FRC, which was a "target of hate in August 2012 by Floyd Corkins, the gunman who shot a security guard" at the conservative nonprofit organization.
"Corkins acknowledged in a plea agreement that he wanted to kill as many people as possible and smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces. It was later determined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Corkins was inspired by the SPLC," Doyle said.
When asked by CP whether the SPLC is fueling the attacks against the Ex-Gay Pride month, Doyle said that what he believes is that SPLC is targeting ex-gay organizations through their hate campaign.
"They are actively engaged in the hate campaign, and I believe they are responsible for some of this ill sentiment," he said. "They're saying a lot of half-truths, they're lying, and they're basically not telling the whole story. And they're really spreading a lot of hate against people like me, the organization and the people that we represent."
Doyle added that the SPLC is targeting ex-gay organizations by using an interactive map on their website, which he believes threatens organizations like VoV with "potential violence at the hands of extremists who are intolerant of opposing viewpoints on homosexuality."
He continued, "So there's just a lot of hatred and ill sentiment going on out there right now. And we feel like we didn't want this event to be dominated by these extremists coming and protesting and surrounding the building, and intimidating people as they were trying to come in. We wanted this to be a very positive event."
The postponement of the Ex-Gay Pride lobbying efforts and reception have led Doyle and VoV to expand the initiative to celebrate September as being Ex-Gay Awareness month, despite recent threats against July's Ex-Gay Pride events, which he says are a reminder that many are intolerant of the ex-gay community.
In addition to ongoing plans for the remaining Ex-Gay Pride events later this month, Doyle said September's Ex-Gay Awareness initiative will be used to increase awareness and educate college and secondary students about discrimination and intolerance in schools toward members of the ex-gay community.
"Ex-gays are being discriminated against, and the LGBT population is not the only one experiencing that type of rejection and harassment," Doyle added.
Even though the new venue location for September's reception has yet to be determined, Doyle has confirmed with CP that Matthew Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, will be one of the keynote speakers and will be the recipient of the first Ex-Gay Pride Freedom Award.