A video uploaded Tuesday to Reddit begins with a shaky view of a man standing in front of downtown Minneapolis' Target store. He’s wearing a red and white checked shirt and a cowboy hat; he’s holding a Bible in one hand. He’s also yelling loud enough to be heard above the traffic noise.
“Jesus Christ is going to come back with flaming fire,” the man in the cowboy hat shouts. “You can call it ‘global warming.’”
It might seem like an offhand attempt at some humor, but he goes on to assure, very earnestly, that Christ would return to “take vengeance” upon “them who do not know God.” And who are they, you might ask? Well, we’re getting there.
“If you say you’re a Christian and you don’t read your Bible, you don’t follow your Bible, you say homosexuality is not sin, you’re a stranger, my friend, to God’s kingdom,” the cowboy barks, adding that the Bible “talks about transgender” in Deuteronomy 22:5: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
For the record: That’s not really what being trans means, and Deuteronomy was very likely written before pants were even invented, so take that for what you will. In any case, the cowboy continues, stating that we live in a “perverted” nation full of sin.
“It can be premarital sex. It can be pornography. It can be pride," he explains. "That says, ‘I don’t need God.’”
One Reddit commenter, who self-identified as trans, says it's fairly common to bump into this guy downtown. The cowboy allegedly harassed the commenter and “other queer folk” by directing his shouting their way and following them around in circles.
“I expected the straight pride parade to be more than just one guy,” another commenter quips.
Reddit users, for the most part, were nonplussed by this diatribe. Hell, it’s not even the first homophobic rant they’ve seen outside of this Target. The fact is, the queer community has been dealing with a shifting tide of street preachers berating them about their identities for... well, pretty much forever.
For example, there was Jason Lee Cooley of the Old Paths Baptist Church in Northfield. He allegedly stationed his crew on the western edge of Loring Park during Pride in 2015 and shouted about “sodomites” and “filthy, disgusting homosexuals” and “transgenders” for anyone who could hear.
There was also Brother Jed Smock. Back in 2012, he made his name yelling at University of Minnesota students about homosexuality – and also bikinis, masturbation, and feminism. He welcomed students that year with a sign that read “You deserve hell.”
And then there was Bradlee Dean. On the eve of a 2011 vote that would have banned gay marriage, he led what was supposed to be a nondenominational prayer before Minnesota legislators. Dean claimed the country had lost its way since 1776 and turned its back on God. It should be noted that this was coming from a man who also claimed homosexuality was a federal crime, that gays somehow caused the holocaust, and that the average homosexual has molested approximately 117 people.
The occasional berating voice in the crowd is a reminder that there are still people out there who believe there is no reason to be proud of being queer, let alone have a designated month for celebrating it. But the years roll on, the Pride festivals keep coming, and people keep walking right by. Or, in their own small ways, fighting back.
“I have, on more than one occasion, blown smoke in his face,” the commenter identifying as trans said. “It was effective.”