Lakeland recognizes June as Pride Month, leaving a handful unhappy

A small group of people at Lakeland’s city commission meeting on Monday morning waited an hour after a proclamation from Mayor Bill Mutz, who recognized June as ‘LGBTQ Pride Month’, so they could express their opposition to what many have called “an abomination” and “sexual perversion.”

“Lakeland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, students, employees and business owners contribute to this vibrant and innovative culturally inclusive community and its diversity,” Mutz read. “Members of LGBTQ communities face discrimination based on their innate status, which sometimes results in human tragedy, loss of life, community isolation or abuse, and while PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ) of Polk County envisions a community where diversity and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed, including their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression…”

Read the full proclamation here or at the end of this article.

Mutz later said he made the proclamation in his own name, not that of the city commission.

Tim Sizemore, Pastor of Beacon Hill Scholarshipa Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church, which claims to be welcoming to all, accepted the proclamation on behalf of Pride Polk, an LGBTQ rights group. The church hosted a Pride of Faith Service Saturday and participated in Polk Pride’s Pride in the Park event over the weekend.

“As a pastor in this community. I think this is very important and I commend your work in ensuring that we have an inclusive community for all for all of our fellow citizens,” Sizemore said. “If you were out last Saturday in the park – in Munn Park – and you saw the crowds there, then it’s not only good for our fellow citizens, it’s also good for business to be warm and welcoming. So, thank you for this proclamation.

Beacon Hill Fellowship Pastor Tim Sizemore, right, accepts the proclamation from Mayor Bill Mutz.

There was no teasing, no boos, no shouting, no signs. We just had to wait until the time of the committee’s agenda was available for public comment.


Then Jon Friedt, pastor of Lakeland Community of Believerstold Mutz and the commissioners that “there are incredible risks associated with LGBTQ practices,” including an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and high rates of promiscuity.

“I couldn’t disagree more with this pastor,” Friedt said of Sizemore. “There is a direct link between homosexuality and pedophilia and although most homosexuals are not involved in pedophilia, there is a disproportionate number of homosexuals among pedophiles and the pressure to make pedophilia acceptable.”

According, a website dedicated to ending all types of child abuse, “misinformation and hysteria around this topic threatens to further stigmatize LGBTQI+ people and fail to protect children.” The website states that “most child sex offenders consider themselves heterosexual” and gives convicted child rapists as examples. jerry sandusky and Jared Fogel – the two married heterosexuals who fathered children.

“Researchers have investigated the issue of gay men being more likely to sexually abuse children, as well as the issue of gay men being sexually attracted to boys,” the website says. “During a one-year period in a large child abuse treatment center, less than 1% of identified abusers were in a same-sex relationship.”

But Friedt said “the LGBTQ plus agenda is being pushed across the country, saturating television, the internet, advertising, etc.… To sit as a citizen, having love and concern for all , I want to urge our city leaders and residents to avoid promoting these unhealthy lifestyles, but instead promote monogamous and healthy relationships within the bounds of marriage.

Friedt said the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men is eight to 20 years lower than that of heterosexuals and that there are dramatically high rates of psychiatric illnesses such as depression, suicide attempts and substance abuse.

But the website states that “negative attitudes and cultural stigma put LGBTQIA+ youth at higher risk of bullying, teasing and physical violence than their heterosexual peers… In 2019, approximately 23 percent of LGB youth have attempted suicide compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.

Paul Armes, a priest at St. John the Evangelist Church, a Western Orthodox Christian church, also addressed the commissioners, saying there is one law in the universe – “the law of God, called the moral law “. He said it is God’s purpose for a man and a woman to marry and bring forth children conceived in that union.

“LGBTQ plus culture is a culture of loneliness and lies,” Armes said. “A proclamation in support of this is not one of freedom but of slavery and death, again contrary to the good wishes of the Creator of mankind.”

He ended his remarks with “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Mutz and Commissioners Stephanie Madden and Sara Roberts McCarley all replied “Amen.”

Carolyn Broderick told Mutz that he had overstepped his bounds as mayor and asked if Mutz would then be celebrating ‘Beastology’ month for people who have sex with animals, or Sexual Predator month for people who have sex with animals. rapists, or adultery month for people who cheat on their spouses or fornication month for people who want to celebrate sex with anyone.

“I propose today that you rescind this because you are proclaiming acceptance (sic) of sexual or chosen sexual behavior,” Broderick said. “You shouldn’t make any decisions about anything sexual. This is not your place and this is my opinion.

Mildred Paga’n asked if every June would be declared Pride Month and said the LGBTQ community was not discriminated against. Instead, Christians are.

“You took God out of school, you took the Ten Commandments out of the square, you took God’s book out of school, and you bring trash to school,” Pagan said. “And you bring dirt to the middle of the street where I don’t even want to go downtown…I have a cousin who just passed away. He probably went to hell because he lived that way. And he was a lawyer. He lived in the greatest thing – and there was nothing holding him back – he could be whatever he wanted to be, but he didn’t want to change what God called an abomination.

Two members of the audience, who were there on other business, then stood up and spoke.

Bobby Shields, who works for Lakeland Electric as an engineer, said he was proud of the city for everyone’s public acceptance.

“For the people behind me, this religion is not applicable to everyone. Their thoughts do not apply to everyone. Whatever your perception of life or love or whatever it is, it’s your business. And the fact that they don’t feel like, that they shouldn’t be accepting of others is disgusting,” Shields said. “And I just want to say that they’re They’re just the loudest minority, but they’re the minority.

Shields went on to say that her sisters, who grew up in Lakeland, were “horribly bullied” at school for being different.

“I just want to thank you for your proclamation for their community, showing that they are allowed to be different,” Shields said. “It’s not a Pride month celebration – it’s to show they have a right to be who they are. They don’t have to hide from people like you. They have a right to be who they are. to be who they want to be.

MeLynda Rene Rinker got emotional talking about loving people no matter who and what they are. And then she shared a detail about one of the most painful moments of her life.

“As a child, I was abused by a person in the church. And then the pastor told me… if I didn’t forgive that person, I would go to hell too. So, so be it “Rinker said. “Show some love for the people who need you. I don’t go to church because of people like that, who are hateful and cruel and mean to people who are different because they choose a different way of life.

Mutz then took the floor to explain that anyone can ask the city to issue a proclamation. If it’s a law-abiding subject, the city will move on.

“I respect the strong position in relation to the biblical vision that you wanted to provide and I do not compromise and within that vision, a Judeo-Christian ethic or responsibilities, unconditionally loving and honoring others,” Mutz said. “Each of us has the opportunity to decide how to put these values ​​and how to apply them to the world in which we live. And we, as a nation, have made same-sex marriage an option, and it’s in the justice system. And we, as a committee, must defend the rights of these citizens. It doesn’t mean that we violate what might not personally be our own set of values ​​and the choices we make as individuals, but it does mean that we honor everyone with respect to legally granted rights.

The Lakeland proclamation came a week after The ledger reported that Lake Wales Town Commissioners refused to issue a proclamation declaring June Pride Month, as it had done every year since 2018, except for 2020 during the pandemic.

The Ledger also reported that Lake Wales does not have a written policy on the declaration of proclamations, nor does Lakeland.

Mutz said the process is very simple: people who want to read a proclamation, depending on many factors, make a request to recognize people, achievements or conditions that exist. The most recent declared June 19 as Juneteenth to recognize the day slaves were freed after the Civil War.

“There is no proclamation read that I have not reviewed,” Mutz told the commissioners. “So it’s extremely important to me that what these statements represent, what these proclamations say, is either uncompromising truth or uncompromising with respect to the position of the commission…our view on the proclamation is: that are we doing to honor everyone within the framework of the civil rights that exist in our nation?

James C. Tibbs