I’m at the Western Academy of Beijing to sit in on a weekly Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) meeting. The students trickle in alone and in pairs, chatting and making themselves comfortable as they start to eat lunch. When GSA organizer and Grade 11 student Elli Hu starts off the meeting, we begin in true new media fashion by watching a YouTube video.
On the projector screen, Reverend Phil Snyder of the Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri is speaking to a panel at a city council meeting. He quotes the Bible as he delivers what appears to be an anti-gay hate speech.
But then, he says: “I’m sorry, I’ve brought the wrong notes with me this evening. I’ve borrowed my argument from the wrong century. It turns out what I’ve been reading to you this whole time are direct quotes from white preachers from the 1950s and the 1960s, all in support of racial segregation.”
In fact, Revered Snyder is a Christian gay rights activist. His speech happened at a time when the city of Springfield was considering whether to add gays and lesbians to a list of protected minorities.
Photo: Dave’s Studio