Butting heads

Stop the Hate Matthew Shepard Concert and training to compete with anti-gay leaders, speakers at Christian conference

CHARLOTTE — Come Friday, Nov. 7, the City of Charlotte will play host to two large-scale events diametrically opposed to each other.

On one side of town, Hickory Grove Baptist Church will kick off their National Conference on Christian Apologetics featuring some of the most infamous anti-gay leaders in the nation. Speakers like Focus on the Family president James Dobson and commentator Chuck Colson will take the stage to discuss a variety of issues, including “the Christian worldview,” homosexuality and marriage, “sexual abstinence” and more.

Just north of the church, LGBT and gay-friendly people will come together to remember the life and legacy of Matthew Shepard, the openly gay, 21-year-old University of Wyoming student killed after a brutal anti-gay attack in October 1998. Through the weekend, students and campus leaders across the Southeast will join in a Stop the Hate program training.

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Scheduled to speak at Hickory Grove on Friday night, Dobson will likely address a multitude of issues, including those for which he is most despised in the LGBT community. The radical right leader and host of a conservative radio talk show has for years promoted lies and hate toward gay people, according to gay activists.

Dobson has said that being gay is an “identity crisis that occurs too early to remember.”

He also said he doesn’t think LGBT people truly want marriage equality. “I don’t believe homosexuals really want to marry, most of them,” he once said. “Homosexuals can be committed to each other and they have freedom to behave in the ways they desire but they cannot be a family and they cannot be married.”

He’s also said that “homosexuals are not committed for life” and used debunked research to say that gay people “have as many as 300 to 1000 partners in a lifetime.”

Other infamous, anti-gay Dobson statements include “I think [gays] want to destroy marriage and then recreate it according to their own interpretation with all the benefits but none of the commitments that mean so much to children,” and “How about group marriage? A marriage between daddies and little girls and a man and his donkeys? Anything that can be linked to civil rights will be doable.”

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In Q-Notes’ Sept. 20 issue, local gay leader Phil Hargett said Dobson’s tactics have the unintended effect of causing more people to support LGBT equality.

“It’s my opinion that when James Dobson and those aligned with him use their rigid interpretation of Christianity to deny the very authenticity of people who are gay, he and his ilk unwittingly help the cause of gay equality,” Hargett said. “They end up motivating the majority of fair-minded Americans to stand up and say ‘enough’ to the use of one group’s religious beliefs to deny another group their basic authenticity and equality.”

The Stop the Hate Concert remembering Matthew Shepard’s memory and legacy will take place on the campus of UNC-Charlotte. This issue’s cover story has more details on the benefit and its performers.

Q-Notes was not given media credentials for the National Christian Apologetics Conference, despite requesting such more than two weeks before the event. Further updates regarding the conference and Matthew Shepard Concert, including pictures, will be available at Q-Notes Online, www.q-notes.com.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.