A historically queer-friendly Fresno theater and the conservative church trying to buy it are under fire after a tribute to recently dead hatemonger Rush Limbaugh was posted on the marquee this week.
“Thank you Rush for teaching us,” the marquee on the theater read, “You will be missed very much. But never forgotten. R.I.P.” This message drew ire from locals who remember Limbaugh mainly as a hateful man who mocked gay and trans people and celebrated the deaths of those who died from AIDS.
“Don’t talk to me about how welcoming Adventure Church is to the LGBTQ community when they allow (place?) this up on the marquee next to their church name,” Fresno local Heather Parish tweeted, “The man mocked gay deaths during the AIDS crisis. Thanks for saying the quiet part out loud, ACC.”
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Adventure Church’s attempted purchase of the historic theater in the Tower District of Fresno. The theater is located in an area traditionally known as the queer center of the city. The building hosted Fresno's Reel Pride Film Festival for over 30 years and is where the local Pride parade ends.
Adventure Church insists that it is “welcoming” to LGBTQ+ people, but many locals feel unsure about that and have been protesting the sale.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk out there, how we feel about the LGBTQ community,” Pastor Anthony Flores said at a recent community meeting. “We love you. We love God and we love people. And everybody always says, well, do you affirm them and will you affirm them? We love you and you are welcome to any of the church services we have and we welcome you.” Notice how he didn’t answer his own question about affirming same-sex relationships?
The message of thanks and love for Limbaugh has only made locals feel more wary of the church’s views on LGBTQ+ people.
Earlier this month, comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted about the theatre’s sale. “So an anti-LGBT church called Adventure church is trying to by The Tower theater in the most lgbt friendly area of fresno (the arts distric, obvs),” she tweeted, “So… it’s for sale if someone wants to scoop them.” She tagged celebs like Chelsea Handler, Ellen Degeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris in her tweet and also suggested a Gofundme.
As of right now, there is no confirmation that it was the church that put up the marquee and not the building’s current owner, Laurence Abbate. Neither has commented on the issue as of yet.
Protests have been going on in front of the theater for the last six weeks, and The Save the Tower Theatre Demonstration Committee says it’s going to demonstrate again this Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon.