Gay-rights backers gather for smooch rally

Published August 15, 2009 5:29 pm
Kiss-in » Utah's event was part of a coordinated 50-city show of affection.
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Dozens of couples, gay and straight, gathered at Library Square amphitheater Saturday morning to smooch.

The demonstration of affection was part of a "Great Nationwide Kiss-in" across U.S. and Canadian cities, organized by gay-rights bloggers on the East Coast.

"The seeds have already been planted for the biggest cultural shift GLBT people will have ever experienced," actor and activist Charles Lynn Frost told a crowd of 100 to 150 people.

"And it will largely happen with children who will soon be adults," he said. "Who choose not to hate, frighten or be divisive but choose to see no differences between any human being that makes them worth loving."

Organizer Ash Johnsdottir, a Provo activist, said the demonstration was in response to the detention last month of a gay couple who kissed on the LDS Church's Main Street plaza, and to similar cases in Texas.

It was the third local kiss-in since the detentions. Unlike the second demonstration, no counterprotesters appeared.

"Simple acts of innocent affection, no matter what the gender of the kissers, are a human right and it shows the love that binds us together," Johnsdottir said.

Another kiss-in will be scheduled a year from now to reaffirm the movement, she said.

Frost, the creator of radio character Sister Dottie S. Dixon, a proud Mormon mother of a gay son, introduced his 5-year-old granddaughter as an example of a young mind others can learn from.

He urged the crowd to "keep planting the seeds" by teaching, talking and listening to children, by showing them how to celebrate authenticity, pride, courage and honesty, and by being shining examples of integrity.

Other speakers included Salt Lake City Council candidate Jennifer J. Johnson and KRCL RadioActive Executive Producer Troy Williams. Williams, a self-described Mormon and "queer" said his main message was that "there will never be peace between the Mormons and the gays until the LDS leadership takes responsibility for their actions and seriously begins to address their wrongs against us."

Williams said the burden of change has always been on the gay community. Events like the kiss-in remind people that gay people are not going away and will continue to demand full civil equality, he said.

Amanda Anderson missed the two previous demonstrations and showed up late Saturday. "I wanted to show up to support a fantastic cause," the Westminster student said. "Public affection should not be dominated by heterosexual privilege. It should be something everyone can express."

Joe Pitti and Mark Chambers of Salt Lake City, partners since 1991, said they, too, wanted to support gay rights in Utah. They said they have never had a negative interaction in Utah.

"We don't feel like we harm anybody and would like to be able to hold hands in public," Chambers said. "The more the people are aware that we are your neighbors and your co-workers, the more people will understand and accept us as who we are."

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Utah gay rights kiss-in history

July 8 » Matt Aune and Derek Jones were apprehended by security guards from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the pair was seen "kissing and hugging" on the church's Main Street Plaza. The two were detained by the church security and police were called.

July 12 » About 100 people held a kiss-in demonstration in support of Aune and Jones at Main Street plaza. Church security watched the protesters, and called police when they crossed onto the property, but there were no altercations.

July 19 » Second kiss-in demonstration at the Main Street Plaza. More than 200 people showed up. Counter-protesters showed up to express their views too.

Saturday » A kiss-in is held at Library Square as part of a "Great Nationwide Kiss-in," featuring events in 50 U.S. and Canadian cities.



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