By George Miller
Fernandina Beach, 6-11-22
LGBTQQIP2SAA advocates staged the 2nd Annual Fernandina Beach Pride Parade and Festival on 6-11-22, sponsored by Fernandina Beach Pride. The avowed purpose stated by several attendees and leadership was to provide visibility and support to the movement and stand up for their rights.
First, there was a parade, followed by a festival, with dozens of booths and food trucks, music and a spirited keynote speech by Jacksonville movement civil rights attorney-activist Jimmy Midyette.
Fernandina Beach Pride staged the event. It’s headed by local F.B. City Commission candidate Genece Minshew- President, Reanna Boudrow- Vice President and five others.
Dr. Zachary Henry of AHF/HIV Care, VyStar Credit Union, Nikki Fried for Governor, UF Health, TD Bank, Jaguar Foundation, Smith, Gambrell Russell and the Dept. of Consumer Affairs, Democratic Club of Amelia Island and Democratic Executive Committee were some of the major financial sponsors.
Led by county emergency vehicles, The parade commenced promptly at 10 AM, staging in Central Park, heading into downtown via backstreets and returning on Centre Street and Atlantic Avenue, which were lined with hundreds of people- bystanders and supporters. There were a couple of dozen vehicles and groups, which took 5 minutes to pass the starting point.
The audience seemed to consist of LGBTQQIP2SAA people, but even more so, just supporters. We based this on a quick informal poll of people passed by or observed along the parade route and at the park. Two churches, Memorial United Methodist Church and New Vision Congregational Church had a high profile presence there which was very supportive, beyond just tolerance.
We observed no overt hostility during the event- most seemed sympathetic and some bystanders viewed it impassively.
However, we spotted only three people with signs that weren’t aligned with the event message. One was merely “Jesus Saves”, leaving one to wonder specifically what he was advocating related to this event. The other two were more definitive (see sign pic here) So, we conducted an impromptu interview of regular local religious protesters Michael Alford and Darnell Robinson, who are opposed to the LGBTQQIP2SAA lifestyle, which they told me was at odds with the scriptures. When I asked what he thought about the event and its advocacy, Alford replied that “the Bible makes it obvious… I don’t see how people could conclude anything else.” He invoked Romans 1 to support that. Of course, that is reiterated in other passages too, but the Bible also instructs us to love everyone, even those regarded as sinners and to let the Lord judge.
When asked if people have given him trouble for his advocacy, he replied that in the past, he had been shouted and cursed at, spit on and assaulted. “They hated me first, but they’re really mad at God,” he concluded.
The mood was festive and upbeat, with some flamboyant decorations, signs and costumes on display. We estimated that about 700+ people were in the Festival Area in Central Park at about 11 AM, some of whom came in from the parade route. Allowing for all coming and going along the way, there might have been 1500 or more involved in all phases of the event, although it’s hard to say, with all of that movement.
There was lots of networking going on among attendees, organizers and exhibitors. They delighted in comparing outlandish costumes and signs. We noted a high percentage of health care-related services and some products, with an emphasis on mental health and addiction treatment, which is just a subset of the former.
We spoke to at least ten people about why they were there and what they hoped to accomplish in doing so. All were there “in support.” Most who would disclose it said that they are straight, but support LBGT people. Some said that they have friends/relatives who are.
Everything at the event was well organized- parade out and back on schedule, music and speech right on schedule, sound was excellent, facilities, food trucks good.
Tell Us Your Story
Gaye Foote of the United Methodist Church and also the “Tell US Your Story” group told me that they fully support the LGBT’s. She would not venture anything about them being “sinners” per biblical verses. She was part of the sign display on Center Street and their Memorial United Methodist Church and was also at the story-telling pavilion, which she stressed is NOT connected with the church.
6-14-22 update- We had a conversation this week with Rev. Carrie Yoder, Associate Pastor, Memorial United Methodist Church. She gave us this statement for publication:
“For 200 years, Memorial United Methodist Church has been a presence in our community seeking to remind people that God loves each and every one of us. Our church members are encouraged to embody and reflect the love of God to each and every person they meet. As a church family, we have heard a call from God to ensure that love shows up for our neighbors, throughout our community and world, not just with words, but with actions.
We also acknowledge and grieve that many of our neighbors have felt shut out or harmed by churches in their past. Hurtful words and actions are not of God. God is love.
One of our values at Memorial is to represent God’s welcome by creating a space for everyone to grow in their faith and connect deeply to God. We invite all people to experience authentic Christian community with us.” – Rev. Carrie Yoder
The purpose of “Tell Us Your Story”, I was informed, is to enable LGBT’s to tell their story in a loving environment that they do not otherwise feel they have- an opportunity to unburden themselves. In addition, they were handing out “A Love Letter From God.” It is a two page collection of biblical verses which describe God’s boundless love for humanity and contains dozens of citations to allow you to trace them back to the scriptures.
But there is a warning contained on page three, where the editor states: “So what? You now have a choice to consider. You can choose to live your own life, go your own way, and do your own thing apart from God. You have that freedom. Unfortunately, that’s a path that leads to a lonely separation from God…..” (etc.)
As if to underline the Tell US Your Story message, right outside of the pavilion, we ran into New Jersey expatriate and admitted “binary” Jim Lee, who relocated to the Island. He told us about a long time good friend who died at 70, never revealing to him his darkest secret hidden in the closet. Jim described his deep sadness upon finally learning that his friend could never bring himself to tell him and carried that burden to his death.
Group from Camden County
We stopped a group of high school and college age young people- male and female, black and white, to ask them their thoughts. We decided not to publish their great group pic or mention names because some of them are minors. Some were wearing LBGT regalia.
In summary, they were there and eager to support the movement, said that they are straight, but have “lots of friends” who aren’t. They lament that said friends are “not allowed to love.” When I asked for more info, they told me that “people should be equal”. They said that parents, community, schools and government are preventing it.
I suppose this sounds like news, since governments and schools appear to be bending over backwards with total acceptance and promotion of the lifestyle. No, more than one said. They said parents strongly discourage it, that one of their high schools refused to allow a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) chapter, and another had heard that one state wanted separate marriage licenses for straight and not-straight couples.
Festival Keynote Speech by Jimmy Midyette
Keynote speeches normally embody the intellectual heart and soul of an event/movement, as did this one. Attorney Jimmy Midyette is known for his advocacy of LGBTQQIP2SAA rights via civic action and litigating perceived injustices. Evidently, the courts have agreed with him on multiple occasions where his causes have prevailed, including… (we’re waiting for him to send his speech and cases, which we will add later)
He described Fernandina Beach as “The heart of the reanimation of Pride” and reminded us that this is Pride month, just in case we hadn’t noticed it 24/7 all over the media for weeks. He took a quick voice poll which suggested that about 2/3 participating were local, about 20% from Jacksonville and south, with the remainder from “Georgia and north.”
He sadly reminisced about the police brutality against “gay, transgender and bi’s”, which triggered the 5 day NYC Stonewall Inn Uprising (“gay” bar), also described as riots, starting on June 28, 1969. This is often described as the start of the “Pride” movement.
He asked if people were “here to protest and raise hell” and received light applause. He then cited the more recent attack on the Orlando, Florida LGBT Pulse Nightclub where 49 were killed. This worst ever mass shooting to date then in the USA was done by an alleged islamic extremist.
Midyette then claimed that there were “two-spirit, intersex” Timucuan residents here a thousand years ago who were celebrated in their society.
But, he said, society is now dangerous to the LBGT community … and that community is dangerous to the “power structure.”
He then went on to attack the Florida House Bill (HB) 1557, Parental Rights in Education, which he described as the “don’t say gay” bill, in lockstep with the Democratic Party’s incorrect narrative. Midyette claimed that it tells schoolchildren that something is wrong with a different sexual orientation, which he says is “under attack”. Our reading is that it merely blocks teaching sex to kindergarten through 3rd grade students and others where it is in violation of age-appropriate Florida laws. Read it yourself and see.
He also said that “trans girls are not allowed to play sports”. Of course, people may play in leagues with members of their their own sex. Women’s athletic participation and victories are now being ruined by much stronger “trans” competitors and they are furious about it. Legislators and courts will attempt to sort this out.
Midyette said he is “not apolitical” and that cause issues should be addressed at the ballot box. He said the movement is under attack by Governor Ronald DeSantis, who he said is the worst one in the history of Florida and that his Republican friends agree. He called upon people to “liberate us from his hateful agenda which would push us back in the closet.”
He wrapped up by urging the crowd to vote when the ballots come out in August (primary) and November (general election). He warned “our lives are at risk… by political machinations… by these monsters in Tallahassee.”
Local Pastor Comments
Most local religious leaders do not wish to condemn people who are trying to find a way. Local Senior Pastor Zach Terry of First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach agrees and has always counseled congregants to love everyone, and he does mean EVERYONE. He offered the following statement:
“Sex was God’s idea and beside salvation, it was the best one He ever had. As Christians we believe sex and gender are wonderful gifts that should be enjoyed and celebrated. As with any gift, if we use it improperly it can be dangerous, even devastating. Fire within a fireplace can warm a home, if it leaves the fireplace it can destroy a home.
The Bible teaches that sexual immorality of any kind, outside the bonds of a heterosexual marriage, should be repented of and forsaken, not celebrated. Simultaneously, scripture teaches that those who take part in the LGBTQ+ community are not our enemies. We love them, we want the best for them. We do not seek to persecute or harm them in any way. We cannot, however, celebrate something that we believe to be destructive to their souls.
Personally, I have enjoyed conversations with people from the LGBTQ+ community. I have learned much about how they think philosophically, morally and politically. Each of these conversations have led to a measure of mutual respect and even some common ground.
While I am not able to celebrate the lifestyle they have chosen, I can celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ died for their sin just as He did for mine.”
– Senior Pastor Zach Terry, First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach, FL
Other Media Reports on This Event
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive and manufacturing management professional