Homophobia in Sacramento is unacceptable during Pride Month


Reverend Matthew Woodward, Cathedral Dean of Trinity Cathedral, holds the burnt remains of one of the LGBTQ rainbow flags from his church on Saturday morning, June 5, 2021, in downtown Sacramento .

Pride Month is meant to be a celebration – a time when communities recognize LGBTQ culture, honor those who have passed, and deepen our commitment to gay rights. Yet in the past two weeks, Sacramento has seen at least two hateful homophobia protests that targeted not only individuals, but an entire community.

On June 5, Reverend Matthew Woodward, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Midtown, woke up to find that his church’s pride flag had been burned. Bigots desecrated an episcopal church with roots in Sacramento dating back to the gold rush. The Sacramento Police Department is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.

“God created everyone, God loves everyone,” Woodward told The Bee. “There are people who have a hard time hearing, and it made me sad that someone wanted to remove what we consider to be a sign of love.”

In A declaration, Bishop Megan Traquair of the Northern California Episcopal Diocese condemned “the act of hatred.”

“The pride flag is a symbol of love, struggle, sacrifice, by generations of our brothers and sisters,” Traquair wrote.

Over Memorial Day weekend, a woman at the Kimpton Sawyer hotel “asked a female couple to stop kissing in a public swimming pool because her children were present,” according to photographer Art Kaligos who recorded the viral video of the meeting.

In the video, several women in her group are humiliated by other guests as they leave the pool. Upon their release, the women who opposed the gay couple responded to shame with profanity and vulgar gestures. One of the women asked if they had children.

The question is rooted in bigotry. This suggests that children would be hurt when they saw a gay couple expressing affection. Children are not born fanatics – they learn bigotry from their parents. Would these women have complained if the couple were straight?

Unfortunately, we cannot view these heinous acts as isolated incidents. In 2020, at least 12 homophobic incidents and two separate transphobic incidents were reported to Sacramento police, according to an annual crime report. It is probably also an undercoverage. Experts say that many acts of homophobia and transphobia are not reported – which means we don’t know for sure how many of our LGBTQ neighbors have been victimized.

In one of the alleged hate crimes last September, the victim, who is gay, got into a car with the suspect who offered to drive him, police said.

“On the way, the suspect stopped the vehicle, got the victim out of the car, kicked him in the head, then left the victim on the street,” according to the report. “The suspect said, ‘This is what happens if you’re gay and you run into me.”

Last year’s report on hate crimes in Sacramento also shows several separate cases of Sacramento residents using homophobic slurs against their LGBTQ neighbors. The details are disturbing and show how people are treated by executioners devoid of humanity. In one incident, a suspect told a transgender person he hated trans people and then punched them in the face. Another transgender person overheard a neighbor “talk about hurting her because of her lifestyle choices and is afraid the neighbor will hurt her.”

Condemning these cases of homophobia and violence is not enough. The solidarity that we show towards the targeted racial groups must also be extended to the LGBTQ community. Many cities, including Sacramento, have displayed pride flags on government buildings and made efforts to uplift leaders who have long been fighting in the shadows. Many others, like Roseville, Fresno and Gilroy, finally recognize their LGBTQ communities and wave pride flags for the first time.

The Sacramento Pride Walk and Festival were canceled this year, but a host of virtual events and small in-person gatherings are underway. In the aftermath of these incidents, support for the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, which produces the city’s Pride events, is essential.

Six years after the Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans, Sacramento still has a long way to go to create a city where no one is abused because of who they love. The response from the general public, however, showed that these hateful people do not represent the large majority who stand alongside LGBTQ residents.

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