1st Protest over Gay Kiss at LDS Plaza

Tonight the first of 4 (scheduled) protests took place at the LDS-owned Main Street Plaza over the controversy of a gay kiss. Earlier this week a gay couple were asked to leave the LDS owned plaza due to a kiss, which LDS Church officials claimed was not allowed on their property. When the couple refused to leave until the currently-kissing straight couples were also asked to leave, the police were called and the couple were cited for trespassing.

The first protest over this abusive treatment was organized very quickly by local U of U student Alec Gherke, who himself is straight. His group of about 15 people donned pink armbands and triangles, hand-cuffed themselves and marched into the plaza singing LDS hymns and primary songs including “Love One Another” and “I am a Child of God.”

After about 2 circuits around the plaza, 7 LDS secret-service imitating security guards (complete with ear-wigs) told the group that they were to leave immedietely or “we will be forced to arrest you.” Many in the group, including one active LDS member made passionate pleas that the LDS Church’s current stance and hypocritical rules are not in standing with the teachings of their own prophets nor the teachings of God.

Below are some of the highlight clips. Please forgive the poor video and sound quality as all I had with me was my handheld camera. There will be continuous postings of videos as fast as I can upload them, so keep checking back!

This one is mid-protest as the marchers sing through the plaza.

This one is the big highlight, main confrontation with security.

LDS couple kissing on the plaza as security was escorting us off the property. Isn’t this the same “bad behavior” that the gay couple was cited for?




8 responses to this post.

  1. How do I find out about stuff like this? Seriously, I’d love to join in on one of these protests and show my feeling about gay rights in Utah. Say Monday?


  2. Posted by Jenni Lou on July 11, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    The security guys had cameras – why? For what purpose were they documenting this peaceful event? That concerns me. I’m creeped out.


    • Posted by ethingtoneric on July 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm

      To Jenni; I think it was in case something happened in court, they can prove what did or didn’t happen.


  3. Posted by eseta on July 11, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Wow. Good stuff. LOL. Well, I love how the organizers got into this fast as soonest as news got out about this discrimination against gays on LDS grounds. I loved how during the confrontation with the security, one young men likened this discrimination against gays to other civil rights issues in the past of the Mormon church such as blacks being denied to hold the priesthood until later. The security guy acted defensive and asked how that had to do with this issue. LOL. Good job guys! 🙂


    • Posted by sheepmachine on July 12, 2009 at 2:37 am

      That was me, ahahaha.

      1) it’s Gehrke, not Gherke, and if I remember rightly Alec would actually categorize himself as bi rather than gay, but small, small points. (There were also straight people in the group, as well as current, in-good-standing church members — I don’t know which is which or the overlap, I didn’t get much opportunity to talk to people.
      2) The couple (Aune and Jones) were cited for a kiss on the cheek, so not even as much as what’s going on with the passer-by straight couple here.
      3) Previous “how do I get involved poster”: There is as much information as I have about protests on my site (sheepmachine.com, please do read it, I think what I said is an important suggestion: don’t be obscene in their sacred space. That makes us commit what’s been perpetrated upon us. It makes more sense in context of the post); so far with tonight, there are six scheduled. There is a kiss-in organized by The Love Machine tomorrow at 9 at t-square (mentioned), a protest/rally organized by myself and a friend of mine monday night for family home evening, a secret project, another protest or kiss-off or something Sunday the 19th at noon, and I myself am doing a concert I’ve thought about for a long time, spurred by this event, called Cold Wall, Stone Shouldered, comprised of cover songs “about normal subjects from an abnormal perspective” — everything that means. I want to close the concert with the song Drumming by Florence + the Machine, being about this protesting experience. (“There’s a drumming noise inside my head that starts when you’re around, I swear that you should hear it, it makes such an almighty sound — louder than sirens, louder than bells, sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell”, “run to the river and dive straight in, I pray that the water will drown out the din but as the water fills my mouth it couldn’t wash the echoes out … I’m empty as that beating drum but the sound has just begun”)

      As I was first walking through the Plaza looking for Alec and his group, I lit up a cigarette directly outside the private property (I happened to need a cigarette directly as I happened to need to walk across the plaza) — as I was walking, there was a closed sidewalk and when I turned around there was a security guard shadowing me. I texted my friend (who’s organizing the Family Home Evening protest) and said “Honor my memory.”

      I felt targeted for smoking. I felt targeted for wearing a patterned neckerchief and a shirt that read “xxpatriate”. I honestly did feel targeted for looking and behaving differently. I know what I felt was not necessarily correlational to what was going on (I did light up adjacent to a sign that read “please no smoking”), but I did, to my bones, to my blood, feel afraid to walk through the Main Street Plaza being the person I am.

      Where is this? The Bible belt in the 60s? Nazi Germany? I thought we were smarter than this.


  4. I hope those protesters that openly acknowledged their church membership don’t get punished for their involvement. I think it is great that you guys did it.


  5. Posted by Kate on July 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this. It’s really too bad. What gets me is they tell the member who spoke up she can’t come back and also that picture of the straight couple. What jerks to rub it it.
    Thanks for posting Eric!


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