Anti-maskers in Central Pennsylvania who posted a sign laced with homophobic and anti-science rhetoric were met with an intersectional rainbow coalition of hundreds of LGBTQ folks and allies who joined forces on July 26 to send a message of inclusivity to the rural community.
It all started when a sign was placed on the front door at Wenger’s Grocery Outlet in Mifflinburg earlier this month. The sign chareged that COVID safety measures could be part of a political effort to squash President Donald Trump’s re-election efforts, cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks, and hurled homophobic language.
“There are people who got COVID19 and not all the others living in the same house got it,” the sign said. “This proves that COVID19 is NOT AS CONTAGIOUS AS THE NEWS MEDIA AND MANY OTHERS HAVE BLOWN IT UP TO BE. A lot of these same people support LGBTQ. This life style is sin in God’s eyes and spreads deadly diseases and sickness. Are they really concerned about people’s health???”
Gay City News contacted Wenger’s Grocery to seek comment about the sign that drew outrage in the community. When asked about the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-mask statements, a spokesperson only said, “I have no comment, thank you.”
The I Am Alliance, a local organization launched a few months ago by a straight ally in support of the LGBTQ community, mobilized locals to fight back with a colorful display of solidarity. Individuals spread out across Mifflinburg’s Chestnut Street, representing different colors depending on which part of the street they were on, to create a large human Rainbow Flag, according to the local ABC affiliate.
If Not Us, Then Who, a group that has led local Black Lives Matter protests, joined in on the effort. In a Facebook post ahead of the demonstration, If Not Us, Then Who wrote, “We will not be quiet. We will not allow Mifflinburg elected officials to oppress us. We tried all avenues and they did not work with us whatsoever. They will be held accountable.”
Trump-supporting counterprotesters showed up with a collection of Confederate flags and Blue Lives Matter flags, but appeared to be drowned out by the overwhelming support for inclusivity that was on display.
Now, the I Am Alliance is stepping up and joining If Not Us, Then Who in that group’s demonstration slated for August 2 in Williamsport.
“Our brothers stood with us on Sunday in Mifflinburg. Now it’s our turn to stand with them; and we will be stronger in unity than we could ever be on our own,” the I Am Alliance stated in a Facebook post. “Join us this Sunday in Williamsport and make your voice heard.”
The I Am Alliance did not immediately respond to requests for comment on July 28.
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