This Saturday, I will be marching in my first Pride Parade with my home Church, a wonderful and inclusive United Methodist congregation. I have been debating this whole week whether or not I’ll actually march, partly because of all the walking that it will entail, but also because I didn’t want to just flippantly join the crowd on a half-hearted whim.

Enough of that. I have now, as of tonight, firmly decided that I will be marching in the Pride Parade, after finding out that yet another deranged pastor has been preaching for government-sanctioned and perpetuated mass murder of LGBT American citizens.

Pastor Grayson Fritts of All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee has garnered widespread alarm and contempt for recently expressing his view that the government should send police to execute people like me:

“Send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT freaks and arrest them,” Fritts continued. “Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death. Do you understand that? It’s a capital crime to be carried out by our government.”

This is incredibly disturbing, that a self-avowed Christian leader is using his pulpit and position to plea for government-sanctioned genocide of American citizens. It’s mind-boggling knowing that this man sincerely thinks that we ought to be executed, and that this is a pastor we’re talking about.

Even more disgusting is that, based on comments I’ve been reading from what appeared to be members of his congregation on All Scripture Baptist’s Facebook page, this pastor is seducing people into agreeing that people like me should be executed. They eagerly lap up his malice-tinted words and praise them as being based on the Word of God. Have they all seriously forgotten the Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”?

And this isn’t the first time that a pastor has pushed for the genocide of American LGBT citizens. In the aftermath of the Pulse Massacre, there were a few pastors around the country who took to their pulpits the following Sunday to wistfully remark that more of them should have been gunned down. One of these horrid “pastors”, Pastor Donnie Romero, expressed a wish for the victims of the Pulse Massacre to die from their wounds:

“I’ll pray to God that God will finish the job that that man started,” he added, referring to the gunman, Omar Mateen.

This is why we march. We must be the stronger voice. No matter what happens, we can’t let ourselves be ruled by fear of those who hate us, and those who wish with all their might for our deaths. We cannot, will not let these malicious leaders destroy our hope. And no matter what, we must not let them define God, who is unabashedly, unconditionally, eternally Love.

In the unlikely event that any of the aforementioned pastors, or anyone who adheres to their horrific beliefs is reading this, I have some final words for you:

None of you are above the law of this land or God’s law just because we’re LGBTQ and you’re not. To believe for a second that we are somehow acceptable targets for genocide and worse is a mistake that is completely, entirely your faults. Everyone knows that in your hearts, you know that professing that people like me should be executed simply for existing is not what God wants, and that you are not pursuing God’s will. Especially when some of you have blatantly stated that you hate us, I am positive that no matter how much you deny it, you know that what you’re pursuing is incompatible with what God teaches.

And if you are really blind enough to think that God hates me and others like me, you are sorely mistaken. Oh, if only you knew how much God has done to help me be at peace with myself. God has always and will always be my staunchest Ally, and the ultimate reason I ever accepted myself as being gay. I know always that my life, and the lives of His other LGBTQ children are immensely precious to Him, and nothing you do or say will ever change that.

You are just as much in need of God’s mercy as me or the next person. And so, may God have mercy on your hate-filled souls.