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WSBF-FM Pride Kickoff interrupted by members of Grace Reformed Baptist Church

Mya McKenzie
Clemson students gathered at the amphitheater for WSBF-FM’s Pride Kickoff, which featured sets from Secret Shame, Peach Rings, Newgrounds Death Rugby and Pagan Rage.

Clemson University Police Department was called to remove protesters and members of Grace Reformed Baptist Church who were causing disruptions during Clemson’s second annual Pride Kickoff this past Saturday.

Four police officers arrived at the scene around 7:35 p.m. to confront the protesters, who eventually vacated the premises voluntarily while the crowd encouraged the musicians to continue after being interrupted. As the night progressed, the show continued, featuring bands such as Peach Rings, Newgrounds Death Rugby and Secret Shame.

“They were just there to share the gospel and reach out to a community to that historically, at least when I say historically, it has not been a long history, but the church and them have not tried to reach out and engage with one another so we wanted to go there, and the people that were there were just trying to have conversations. And we actually did.” Ben Gardner, the head pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, said of the protestors.

“Certain ones called the police to get us thrown out, but we had a lot of great conversations, and some doors opened up to try to make some inroads to reach out with one another,” Gardner added.

Early on in the event, attendees of the kickoff were confronted with anti-LGBTQ+ messages criticizing their lifestyles. As singer Page Ragan set up their equipment, flyers started to circulate, reading, “Pride goes before destruction.”

The live music was interrupted for an hour, with protestors attempting to sing louder than the performers during a soundcheck for Newgrounds Death Rugby.

“It made me feel uncomfortable for sure, and it definitely affected my performance — I’m trying to move forward with my transition, and one of the things that’s held me back is bigots like that,” Danny Jorgensen, the lead singer of Newgrounds Death Rugby, said.

“I didn’t know if they were going to be peaceful or not, but I was spending a lot of time mentally preparing for violence, unfortunately. That’s just life as a queer person, especially in the South,” Jorgensen said.

Pride Kickoff is an event sponsored by WSBF-FM and Clemson University’s Sexuality and Gender Engagement Committee. The event features live music, food trucks and tables, along with other LGBTQ+ organizations.

Other pride events will continue for the rest of the week. The complete schedule can be found on the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center website.

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Mya McKenzie, Senior Photographer
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  • C

    Collet BlakeApr 12, 2024 at 3:17 pm

    It looks like the party of “love” and “tolerance” didn’t accept the Christians. What a shame. The LGTBQ community had an opportunity to engage Christians, but chose to get the police involved.

  • K

    Kassidy EnriquezApr 12, 2024 at 1:14 pm

    Super sad that an LGBTQ+ event can’t be held without fear and harassment. More needs to be done to protect these events!

  • P

    ParkerApr 12, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    We didn’t leave voluntarily, it was under threat of arrest. We sang one hymn far away from the stage, but we are glad everyone was able to hear it. We had great conversations about the gospel, and fortunately the only ones yelling and getting angry were the ones attending the event. Christ is King!

  • C

    Colby CallawayApr 12, 2024 at 12:13 pm

    Keep your feet to the blow GRBC! “The Harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”!