Hours of Pride Comments, But No Change

By April L. Bogle

Mayor Bradley Bean announced at last night’s City Commission meeting that the June 10 Fernandina Beach Pride parade and festival in Central Park will proceed as planned, despite requests from Citizens Defending Freedom-Nassau (CDF-Nassau), a conservative political organization, to rescind the permit or move the festival to another venue.

“This permit has already been approved. I will support staff’s decision to approve it,” Bean said, prompting cheers from citizens gathered in the auditorium and from Pride supporters listening to the proceedings via speakers outside the building.

“There is not going to be a kid zone,” Bean added, then stated, “Here in Fernandina Beach we take our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly very seriously.”

Even though Pride festivities were not on the meeting agenda, more than 200 city and county citizens showed up to support or oppose the events. Dozens lined the sidewalks in front of the building and across the street, waving signs and flags, with pro-Pride supporters far outnumbering those against it.

Inside the auditorium, 48 people spoke for three minutes each during the public comment period, with two-thirds sharing their reasons for supporting the planned Pride events, and one-third saying why they thought the events should be changed. Those in support spoke about love and acceptance and denounced how hate is dividing the community. Those against said the events violated city and state laws, even though City Attorney Tammi Bach has stated they do not.

There were notions of common ground, including the importance of continuing to be a welcoming community, encouraging diversity and respecting freedom of speech, but the actual approaches couldn’t have been further apart – especially when they discussed how children should be kept safe.

Michael Miller asked the commission to withdraw approval of the festivities because he believes they will be used to “groom” children to change their sexual orientation. “The vast majority of (Central) Park consists of the playground, ballfields and picnic areas that are populated with children and families. This is no place to conduct sexual indoctrination or promotion. I say this because it’s a widespread thing that’s happening locally throughout the state, throughout the country. Explicit sexual books including how to perform anal intercourse are being removed from school libraries and schools throughout the country. There are schoolteachers that are moving kids toward alternative lifestyles and they don’t have to reveal that to the parents. So there’s a lot of efforts that are going on towards grooming. I believe it is unethical, possibly criminal, to promote alternative sexuality to children. It’s known as grooming and laws are being passed at state and local levels to prevent this from happening,” he said.

Jamie Wilkinson, a 12-year resident of Fernandina Beach, believes that Pride events are what children need, and she fought back tears as she told the story of her son. “When he was 11 years old, he came out to me that he was gay. We attended the Pride festival and he shone with such joy and pride that he almost burst with it, and I was so proud to be a citizen of Fernandina Beach that day. And then when he was 13, he came out as trans, and I was terrified because I know that 82% of trans teens think about suicide and 40% of trans teens attempt suicide, and that is something that no mother wants their child to go through. But knowing that we had this community of support and love and respect where he could be treated with dignity and acceptance, it made me feel a little bit better. And we went to the festival last year and there was nothing there but love and support. There was no indecency. It was a place where my child who’s grown up here could be seen and heard and know that they weren’t alone. And they need that.”

Pediatrician Jill Bolstad’s comments substantiated the importance of community support in the health of LGBTQ children. “It’s been suggested that we should cancel future pride events to protect our children … the opposite is actually true,” Bolstad said that an Academy of Pediatrics study released less than two years ago showed that the risk of suicide in LGBTQ children is more than double, and occurs in younger ages, than their heterosexual peers. Suicide, the study revealed, is directly related to depression caused by discrimination, bullying and isolation. The study’s recommendation for decreasing the risk of suicide is access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces in homes, schools and communities.

“The Pride parade and events are this – they’re an LGBTQ-affirming space in our community. This is exactly the type of community support these children need and we need to give them to protect them,” Bolstad said.

CDF-Nassau Executive Director Jack Knocke, whose disapproval of Pride events has been widely covered by local news media, said, “What this turned into was a massive amount of hatred toward me. And I hear the speakers saying they’re all about love and don’t want any hatred, and I’m amazed because I’ve been labeled homophobic, transphobic, racist, hate monger, false prophet, election denier, bigot, misogynistic and a Nazi. That’s not what I’m about, that’s not what I’m trying to do here,” he said, prompting boos from the crowd listening outside. “What we’re trying to do is maintain certain protected zones for children. If you look at our City Charter you’ll see children should be protected in churches, schools and parks. As I looked at the Fernandina Beach Pride event from last year, I looked at the vendors, I looked at the tables, and I looked at the participants as well, and yes there was a drag queen there … I’m not saying don’t have the festival, I’m just saying don’t have it at Central Park.”

Even though the speakers seemed to be talking at each other rather than listening to one another, some expressed hope for positive future discussions, including Paul Lore. “I think everybody’s looking at this evening as a time of divide, and I tell you it will actually be a time that will make our city and community … stronger,” he said.

At least two television news crews covered the event, including News4Jax, which incorrectly reported that “as of 9 p.m., no decision about the future of the parade has been made by officials.”

When asked if he would read the proclamation marking June as Pride Month at the opening of the June 10 Pride festival, as has been done by previous mayors, Bean said, “I’m not sure. I may be out of town.”

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TABBY
TABBY (@guest_69051)
1 year ago

Too funny that Bean “may be out of town”.

John Findlay
John Findlay(@jfindlay)
1 year ago
Reply to  TABBY

Did sound too convenient! Probably does not want his picture taken supporting Pride for his future political aspirations!

Sheila
Sheila(@srcocchi)
1 year ago
Reply to  John Findlay

Convenient? Or by design? Bean has, on 3 occasions now, stated that the permit will remain in place ” as long as there’s no kid zone”.

His comments support the illogical and irrational fears of the conservative talking points.

sandy
sandy(@tc59)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

Bean must be a white nationalist too!!! He’s just so conservative!!!

Jason Collins
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
1 year ago
Reply to  TABBY

If people want to use public spaces and are properly dressed (nothing obscene as we see in Key West and San Francisco) then it’s a free country and they should be allowed to do so. But I don’t agree with the demand that public services should be provided, tax dollars for extra police shifts, traffic stopped, pride flag being flown at City Hall etc. The LGBTQ community is making this a political issue, not a social issue. Not everyone thinks that the Pride Parade is a good thing for the community and if politicians don’t agree with supporting the parade that doesn’t mean they choose to discriminate or are bad people either. Matter of fact despite the numbers of supporters for this parade who showed up at City Hall, most people in Nassau County do not support this. It’s one thing to be free to live your life not being discriminated against but another to flaunt your sexuality and lifestyle in public and then demand it be accepted or else lash out at good people calling them haters. I support Mayor Bradley Bean and his choice to not be involved if he chooses not to be.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_69088)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

Most people that live here are open minded. Perhaps Knocke and his sponsored group might let it be rather than push their subjective agenda in our faces.

Sheila
Sheila(@srcocchi)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

When organizations apply for permits, they pay for the permit fees. Events often require ore request additional off duty officers for security and do so at the rate of $35/hr, per officer, usually with a 3 or 4 hour minimum. The cost does not come from the tax payers.

Your assessment that the LGBTQ community is making this a political issue. The Christian Conservatives are. Is freedom political? The right to assemble?

Please explain how limiting one group’s rights isn’t discrimination? Are bigots bad people? Or can bigots be good people?

Please explain your basis of saying most people in Nassau County do not support this. By this do you mean the parade? LGBTQIA+ people? Please clarify and provide some data.

“It’s one thing to be free and to live your life not being discriminated against but another to flaunt your sexuality and lifestyle in public and demand it be excepted”

So would it be fair to say that when you are out celebrating with your wife you are flaunting your sexuality and lifestyle in public? How dare you be so flagrant. Or are your thinly veiling your disapproval of a lifestyle different than yours?

I know you know a lot of people in this town. Surely you are aware of the large number of “swinging” couples on this island. I know some of them to be your friends. Many of them seemingly conservative christian heterosexual folks. But I bet you wouldn’t question them at a parade.

You’re perfectly free to feel how ever you like about others their lifestyle. And the rest of us have that right too. Just don’t be surprised when what they see is your bigotry.

sandy
sandy(@tc59)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

more ridiculous comments from sweet Sheila

TABBY
TABBY (@guest_69098)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

Such ugly thoughts from someone that I presume lives on this wonderful island. I am dumbfounded by the vitriol of people. So sad:(
I bet you go to St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas parades that require public services. Hmmmmm

King
King (@guest_69105)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Collins
Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 year ago

I talked for about half an hour last night with many of those opposed to the parade going by Central Park. I did not get the impression they were there to protect children, as they proposed, but rather to protect their self-admittedly narrow (and in my view, ignorant) opinions of homosexuality and the development of children. A recurrent theme in our conversations were their conflations of love and romance with fornication. They just couldn’t get over two men or two women having sex. Despite claiming to be about love, I found no love there at all. And no one I talked to seem to be able to get the point that their right to religious freedom should get applied to other people. I spent another half hour wandering among the crowd of the Pride event supporters, and now, there was love, tolerance for diversity, and acceptance!

Mary
Mary (@guest_69055)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Well stated- sad that people can’t communicate – won’t listen or try to understand, We all must try… harder.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_69053)
1 year ago

An open community – not a closed, medieval community based on fear, prejudice, and sponsored propaganda.

Paula Mutzel
Paula Mutzel(@paula-m)
1 year ago

Good news…the Pride Parade will go on as planned! Hopefully it will be a fun, positive event for all! As we said in the 60’s… Peace…Love…Flowers!!

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_69057)
1 year ago

I am not confused. I do not hate. I embrace diversity~~~~~on my terms…… not rammed down my throat with banners, parades, proclamations of Pride Day, etc. Just as when I moved to FB 12 plus years ago and had numerous people come to me wanting me to “join” their Church, I believe choice is personal. let’s keep it that way and stop the Grandstanding. You are free to do what you want, where you want and I am free not to have to look at it. Freedom comes with responsibility Folks so have the respect to protect my freedom not to see your way of life in the best interests of my society. Oh, and do not make me pay one cent of my tax money to support your addenda~~~I do not.

C C
C C (@guest_69082)
1 year ago

If you don’t want to look at something it is your responsibility to avert your eyes, not other people’s responsibility to be invisible. People existing and celebrating is not “ramming” anything down your throat. You are not mandated to attend. No one is demanding you participate. Simply stay home. You live in a community where not everyone agrees. You have to figure out how to coexist without demanding others make themselves less to suit your comfort.

Kent Piatt
Kent Piatt (@guest_69100)
1 year ago
Reply to  C C

Good on you, CC! My grandfather used to tell me “if you don’t like what you see, look the other way. Wise advice that’s lost on our self-anointed “morality police.”

Susan raab
Susan raab (@guest_69134)
1 year ago

I don’t mind seeing you, but on my terms, and not on the streets that are funded by my taxes. So could you just stay in your yard?

Pat
Pat(@pat-f-t)
1 year ago

I photographed a group of people getting their protest signs ready on a car with NJ license plates. I asked one gal where they were from. New Jersey. And what did her sign say? “Don’t Californicate My Florida”. But she was from New Jersey!!!!

Taylor
Taylor (@guest_69068)
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat

We live in America. Where are you from?

Diana Herman
Diana Herman(@dianah1229)
1 year ago

Bravo Jamie for speaking out on behalf of your child! I am so impressed with your courageous words!!

Al MacDougall
Al MacDougall (@guest_69061)
1 year ago

Society’s acceptance of fringe behavior is a delicate thing…..enjoy it, but do not abuse it.

Margo Story
Margo Story (@guest_69067)
1 year ago
Reply to  Al MacDougall

Right on, enjoy it but do not abuse it……..

Sheila
Sheila(@srcocchi)
1 year ago
Reply to  Al MacDougall

I agree. The Christian Nationalists fringe is the worst kind.

sandy
sandy(@tc59)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

me too! they’re just soooo icky!

John Rasmussen
John Rasmussen (@guest_69062)
1 year ago

Poor Jack. Always the victim. It must be very difficult,

sandy
sandy(@tc59)
1 year ago
Reply to  John Rasmussen

such a dumb comment

Karen Thompson
Karen Thompson (@guest_69160)
1 year ago
Reply to  John Rasmussen

Ever wonder who’s paying Jack to use culture wars to divide us? Meanwhile their quest for $$$$$ and power continues.

Ari Stotle
Ari Stotle(@ari-stotle)
1 year ago

Jack Knocke and CDF — Proud defenders of freedom of speech (as long as we like the speech in question).

Kent Piatt
Kent Piatt (@guest_69095)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ari Stotle

And always the victims when anyone takes exception to their obsessions. Poor things

Ari Stotle
Ari Stotle(@ari-stotle)
1 year ago
Reply to  Taylor

The 22 countries that oppose sexual education for children are Algeria, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Syria, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Yemen, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Taylor
Taylor (@guest_69071)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ari Stotle

I agree, most with the lowest per capita covid deaths in the world, what do they know that we don’t? Why do they oppose LGBTQ sex ed. in schools?

Ari Stotle
Ari Stotle(@ari-stotle)
1 year ago
Reply to  Taylor

Perhaps you’d like to expatriate to one of them?

Taylor
Taylor (@guest_69084)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ari Stotle

.Empty cans make the most noise.

Alyce Parmer
Alyce Parmer (@guest_69177)
1 year ago
Reply to  Taylor

Are you suggesting that high Covid rates are somehow related to the LGBTQ community? When you throw out a statement like that, it’s the responsible thing to back it up with facts. The US high Covid rates were directly linked to people ignoring facts and had nothing to to with LGBTQ people. Fact check me on that with CDC data..

Theresa T Hartz
Theresa T Hartz (@guest_69069)
1 year ago

Saying this parade and festival will indoctrinate children into being gay or trans shows an astonishing level of ignorance. Let parents decide if they want their children to attend. Educating your chid about people who happen to be gay or trans is not the same trying to educate children to BE gay or trans. (As if that could be done!)

JJ Guest
JJ Guest (@guest_69083)
1 year ago

Theresa, exactly, and well said! As the mom of a gay son, I am here to tell you that no one “TURNS” gay. If someone is born gay, that is the way GOD made them! I have two sons, one is straight, the other is gay, and they were born of the same parents, raised exactly the same way. GOD doesn’t make mistakes. Such unbelievable ignorance that gay people are only about sex and wanting to ‘turn’ others. I can’t believe some of the comments here. These are HUMAN BEINGS that deserve to be treated as anyone else, and it is not up to others to decide how they should live. Do you seriously think GOD would be proud of this disgusting, hateful bigotry?

Richard Cain
Richard Cain(@richardcain)
1 year ago

Yippee!! More articles on drag queens, transsexuals, and gay rights!! Really, it is endless. Nothing about the Shrimp Festival. This site is seemingly on a one track agenda.

Sheila
Sheila(@srcocchi)
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Cain

Well, no one is trying to discriminate with the Shrimp Festival. There will be pirating thieves and wenches (also known as prostitlutes) galore. Maybe CDF and the other bigots are too busy with Pride to notice?

sandy
sandy(@tc59)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

another dumb comment from sweet sheila!

Jerry
Jerry (@guest_69093)
1 year ago

Does anyone find it funny that Bean “may not be in town” for the proclamation in June?

So Sad
So Sad (@guest_69103)
1 year ago

I moved to the island 12 years ago because I found it to be a calm, welcoming, beautiful place, free of crazy politics and dare I say hatred. Now here I am stressing because the politics and hatred have invaded my space. I just don’t understand why people cannot be accepting of others. How many historical events does it take to open ones eyes? Discriminations of Jews, Irish, Muslims, Italians, Africans and the list goes on… History repeating itself.

Taylor
Taylor (@guest_69107)
1 year ago
Reply to  So Sad

Island time is slipping away.

King
King (@guest_69104)
1 year ago

You are turning Fernandina into another Province Town, Cape Cod. So Sad. There is no need to parade your gender choice. Just live your life.

Kelly
Kelly(@dune5000)
1 year ago
Reply to  King

Straight people do it every day but just don’t realize it.

Joe
Joe (@guest_69159)
1 year ago

I get it… every thing the LBQabcdefg community has gone through and trying to raise awareness but…. why do you need a parade? A festival? Why do I need your life style choices crammed down my throat. I really don’t care. I imagine the rest of Amaerica truely feels the same way. Who cares what sexual preference you desire who cares what color your skin is. Just be a good human. That’s what matters!

Lord knows if there was a caucasian male Christian parade.. they would be shot in the street! Who cares! Just be kind! I am a Latino immigrant if anyone is curious! So no need to call names. Just be kind.

wba
Noble Member
wba(@wba)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

The concept of a pride festival or parade may seem unnecessary to some people, but it’s important to understand that events like these serve as a way for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their identities and promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusion.

For many people in the LGBTQ+ community, their sexual orientation or gender identity is not a “lifestyle choice” but an intrinsic part of who they are. And unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ individuals still face discrimination and marginalization in society, which is why events like pride festivals are so important.

The message of pride festivals is about love, acceptance, and celebrating diversity. Let’s all see the value in that and let’s promote a more inclusive and accepting society.

PattyM
Active Member
PattyM(@pattym)
1 year ago

Several posters seem to have a problem with LGBTQ+ people celebrating who they are. Do these same posters have problems with Puerto Rican Day parades? St. Patrick’s Day parades? Veteran’s Day parades? or the endless variety of ethnic festivals held all over this country? People like to celebrate who they are — especially people who in the past had to live their lives in the shadows, pretending to be something they are not, just to “fit in” and be accepted by society. I was taught compassion, and I have learned empathy. Can you not learn the same? Put yourself in the shoes of others who perhaps have not led the life you’ve had and have been persecuted for being themselves. For years people were arrested, fired from jobs, bullied, beaten, tortured, and killed because of who they loved. People are not “turned” gay. The “choice” is be yourself and hope you are accepted and not bullied or shamed or attacked and then you feel forced to make the “choice” to hide who you are and who you love. No one wants to live in fear or endure the emotional stress of not being yourself, because you can never be truly happy unless you can truly be yourself.

Kelly
Kelly(@dune5000)
1 year ago

How does a group named “Citizens Defending Freedom” spend so much time trying to limit other people’s freedom? What an oxymoron of a name. It would be funny if it wasn’t so awful.