To The Pride Protester Who Said My Kids Are Going to Hell

by Kim Hildenbrand
Originally Published: 
Kim Hildenbrand

Hey, man! You showed up! I know your schedule is busy. I heard you recently attended a beer festival fundraiser and used your megaphone to announce to people drinking beer is a sin and even made a special appearance at last year’s Christmas parade to tell families with young kids that they were sinners for believing in Santa Claus. So thanks for taking the time to make it to the pride march in our nice little town.

I can’t pretend I know what you were thinking as you arrived in our little downtown right after the march ended. We marchers were in great moods after the fun of walking through the streets and smiling at everyone and hearing people cheer at the farmer’s market. We loved the excitement, the fun, the colorful costumes and rainbow beads.

But then you showed up. We were in line with a few other families to get our free glitter tattoos from the art store on the corner, and suddenly you materialized with your trusty megaphone and your silent sidekick and your giant professionally printed signs featuring weird and shitty messages like “God hates pride” and “Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (“Where would he BUY those signs?” my 8-year-old asked, and I said I have no idea.)

Maybe you were pissed that you’d missed the march. Is that why you decided to target a group of children?

My 11-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son, and 5-year-old son were wearing their matching “Love Wins” shirts (thank you, Old Navy, for making it easy!). They loved the march. They are firm believers that love is love, that two mommies are great and two daddies are great.

When you started your stream-of-consciousness rambling, I had no idea what to expect. I figured you were a sort of street preacher who would read some Bible verses. So it really surprised me that you would direct your vitriol at a group of kids with ages ranging from around 4 to 13.

Your children will go to hell, you yelled at the parents. Do you want your children to go to hell? Unsurprisingly, we didn’t answer you. You kept at it … shouting and shouting.

At one point, you apparently noticed my kids’ shirts: “You say love wins,” you screamed, “but you don’t even know what love is; all you know is lust.” You rambled on about sodomy and burning in flames for eternity and a whole lot of other weird things that most people wouldn’t typically scream at children.

So why am I thanking you? Let’s just say, you taught my kids some valuable lessons that day.

That adults aren’t always right.

“Some of the best people we know are gay,” my 8-year-old son said. “If hell even exists, which I don’t believe, wouldn’t people like that guy end up there instead of people like us?” Yes, son. You’re right.

That the world can be a very unkind place.

“He’s just mean,” my 11-year-old said. “Mean and sad. I really hope he doesn’t have kids … can you imagine? His poor family.”

That there are still good people out there.

The other families around us rallied to chant happily and drown out the BS emanating from your megaphone. Cars honked angrily at you. A lovely woman quickly scribbled “God is Love” on posterboard and waved it in your face. We were all in it together.

That we should stand up for what we believe in.

In a world that teaches us to respect grown-ups, we need to remember to teach our kids that there are exceptions to every rule. My kids didn’t respect you—and I’m glad.

That people like me are raising our kids right.

With a grown man screaming at them, did my kids melt down? Cry? Freak out? Nope. They talked to me and to each other.

My 11-year focused on feelings … the unkindness, the cruelty, of your statements. My 8-year-old focused on logic—how your arguments made no sense.

My 5-year-old? He hopped up on a fire hydrant in his “Love Wins” shirt and started doing one of his ridiculous dances, gleefully and laughingly and, dare I say, a bit mockingly, right in front of you. He chose love.

See you and your megaphone and your signs at the next community event! We’ll be the ones rolling our eyes at you.

–A proud mom

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