CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A local church long known for its LGBT inclusion was vandalized with anti-gay slurs overnight. The spray-painted graffiti, on the church’s doors and sign, were discovered by staff on Thursday.
Among the damage at Wedgewood Church in Charlotte’s Madison Park neighborhood were two lines marking out the words “LGBT Equality” on the church sign’s marque. Additionally, vandals spray-painted the words “Fags are pedos” across the church’s front doors.
Pastor Chris Ayers was taken aback when he saw the sign and doors.
“Heart-piercing was the thing that came to my mind,” Ayers told qnotes Thursday afternoon. “I really didn’t think about the church. I thought about the LGBT friends that I have. As a pastor, you hear all of these horrible stories for all these years. Everything is put in the context of these personal rejections that I know people have faced and this is just one more.”
Ayers said the church sign was able to be cleaned, for the most part. A few smudges remain and the glass might have to be replaced. The doors will need to be repainted.
“We tried cleaning the doors. It didn’t put a dent in it,” Ayers said.
The church is thinking about holding a “Paint the Doors” gathering, he said, allowing church members to come together to process their reactions to the vandalism, which Ayers said the church reported to police on Thursday.
This is the second time the church has faced anti-gay vandalism. Seven years ago, someone broke into the church’s marque and rearranged the letters to read “A lesbo church.” With this second vandalism, Ayers said the church is “seriously considering” security cameras.
Ayers doesn’t know why the vandals struck this week. The “LGBT Equality” sign had been out front for a month. He didn’t want to speculate but guessed inflamed emotions could have come as a result of increased coverage on LGBT issues locally, especially after last weekend’s Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade.
“Pride was off the charts wonderful and it got such great coverage,” Ayers said. “I could very well see somebody wanting to strike out against that.”
Ultimately, Ayers says the vandalism shouldn’t overshadow the people he and his church serve, and that’s where he wants to keep his focus. Doors and glass are can be repaired or replaced, he said. And he’s keeping his eye on the positive movement the LGBT community has seen in recent months and years.
“The good news is there’s been such a good news over the past year. This is serious, but it seems like a bump in the road,” Ayers said. “The momentum is so good, this is just a bump in the road, just one day in a long journey.”
— Photos provided by Chris Ayers.