Groups with different messages on homosexuality converge in Charlotte
The annual Human Rights Campaign Gala of the Carolinas takes place in Charlotte tomorrow on the same day a religious conservative group holds a conference on turning to faith to shed homosexuality. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest gay and lesbian advocate in the US. Religious conservatives say it's purely coincidental that their event is taking place on the same day as the gala. The conservative Focus on the Family's message is that people determine their sexual orientation, therefore homosexuals can decide to stop being homosexual. But gay rights groups vehemently oppose the notion. In protest, local gay advocates brought in author and activist Wayne Besen. "They distort what it's like to be a gay and lesbian person and on top of it what they do is give a lot of guilt to parents and gay and lesbian kids. The message I think creates a message of intolerance within society," he says. Besen wrote the book "Anything But Straight: Unmasking Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth." Melissa Fryrear, Focus on the Family's director of gender issues, will host the conference and lead classes. She says, "As a former homosexual gays and lesbians are asking me to be tolerant of them, which I am. And yet they seem to be intolerant of me as a former homosexual or as a Christian." Fryrear says she expects close to one thousand people will attend the "Love Won Out" conference. Activists plan silent protests outside the conference throughout the day.