June is LGBT Pride Month, a time when people celebrate and raise awareness about the community, but Erie City Hall’s symbols of support is evoking mixed reactions.
The City of Erie is flying the LGBT pride flag at City Hall, which Mayor Joe Schember called a visible symbol of support and inclusivity for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer and their allies.
The rainbow is also painted on a crosswalk between City Hall and Perry Square at the intersection of State Street and South Park Row.
As workers from Sam Catania Painting put a fresh coat of paint on the street on Tuesday, Mary Anne Haeseker of Erie said, “It’s a great idea. I support diversity in all of America.”
Erie resident Heather Cash agreed. “I think it’s really nice. I like that it reminds us that everyone should be equal and that we should all be friends.”
When Scott Beatman looked at the pride flag, he saw something different.
“What the enemy tries to do is take the symbol that God had put and tries to defile it and be a symbol of sin,” he said.
Millcreek Township Resident man calls himself a “street preacher.” He plans to evangelize at Saturday’s Pridefest. “Spiritually, people are drowning in their sin, and so we go out to events such like this to introduce people to the lifeguard that can save them, and that lifeguard’s name is Jesus Christ.”
The message won’t float with everyone, but Beatman said it is one that residents and City Hall should hear.
“If they want things to get better in the City of Erie, then they need to turn to God and honor him in office, as well.”
Schember was aware that there was some dissent to the administration’s visible support, but he is standing with the LGBTQ+ community. He said a lot of the responses have been positive.
“I think we need to respect each other. We need to value our diversity,” he said. “The more diversity we have–people with different perspectives, different strengths–we can do much more.”
Sherwin-Williams donated paint and materials for the crosswalk painting, and Sam Catania Painting donated the labor.