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Gays Urged To Renounce Homosexuality

October 12, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Gay activists hissed, booed and screamed Monday as the Rev. Jerry Falwell lectured via satellite to a group of gays and lesbians about giving up homosexuality.

One member of ACT UP San Francisco threw a blueberry pie at a member of the group that organized Falwell’s speech from Lynchburg, Va., to about 60 people in a building in Golden Gate Park.

``Christian bigots out of our city,″ cried Josh Trenter, who was hauled away by police after allegedly tossing the pie. He and another member of his gay rights group were cited for battery and released.

``God loves you and so do I,″ Falwell told the audience. ``Just as people can come out of the closet, so can people choose to come out against a sinful lifestyle.″

The presentation was designed ``to reach out to the homosexual community in a spirit of love,″ said Allen Wildmon, a spokesman for the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group that sponsored the event with Falwell. Wildmon is the brother of the association’s founder, Donald Wildmon.

Michael Johnston, the pie’s intended target, said he walked away from relationships with men after testing positive for HIV in 1986.

``If we really believe what we say we believe, it would be hateful not to reach out and share the Christian gospel with these people,″ he said. ``If we really hated them, we would leave them alone and let them go on their way.″

The speech was chosen to coincide with National Coming Out Day, an annual event celebrating gay life.

It also came as trial began for one of the men accused of killing gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. Falwell, whom critics have blamed for inciting violence against gays, condemned Shepard’s killing.

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