CHARDON, Ohio — A letter sent to city leaders in Chardon has a lot of people talking. The note surrounds the city's first-ever gay pride celebration in the town square.
Wayne Sanders is among the 18 people, many of them pastors, who signed the letter voicing their concerns.
Sanders is the pastor of Chardon Christian Fellowship.
“We did not ask it to be canceled. As a matter of fact, the letter itself was a private letter that we sent to the mayor and to the council,” said Sanders. “It wasn't meant to go out for publication. It was simply us voicing our opinion that we didn't think it was a healthy thing for our community."
News 5 was told a drag show is planned during the celebration/ Some say the event goes against their Christian beliefs and while everyone can have their own views, they believe children shouldn't see it.
“It’s more adult-themed, at least from everything I've ever seen about a drag show,” said Sanders. “We didn't think it was something that children should be exposed to. "
“I haven't been to any drag shows, so I don't know,” said Kyle Boone, pastor of Hambden Congregational Church. “I kind of have only in my mind what I think happens at a drag show. But we're thinking about kids walking around in a public square, anything, whether it's heterosexual or homosexual. We need to have those mature things sidelined."
Jess Peacock's church, The Community Church of Chesterland, is sponsoring the celebration.
“We've gone to great lengths to make sure it's family-friendly. People can have their opinions about what they think of drag. It is a culturally, artistically diverse form of expression,” said Peacock.
City leaders still plan to allow the celebration, but Peacock says he wasn't surprised by the public outrage and that's why he believes the event is needed.
“We want to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, which I am a part of as well,” said Peacock. “We want to celebrate, we want to have fun. We want to send a message to the wider community that there are LGBTQ+ people in your midst."
The Chardon mayor released the following statement:
The City of Chardon’s Square is a public space that is open to all regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, or any other social or personal beliefs. Groups may gather and openly practice their first amendment rights and are protected by our constitution. Whenever a planned gathering of any kind comes to the City Square, City staff works with organizers to ensure the event runs smoothly and safely. We continue to follow this process with every event. Permits to gather on the square are not required unless items or services are being sold by the organizers or their representatives. No illegal activities will be allowed. To be clear, we cannot regulate use of the City Square based on the message or content of the people who want to use the public space.
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