A number of Christian fundamentalists may have claimed that gay revelers in town for Southern Decadence somehow prompted Hurricane Isaac's dangerous weather in New Orleans last week. As it turns out, New Orleans has little tolerance for anti-gay rhetoric, too, as nine preachers were arrested for "suspicion of aggressive solicitation" on Saturday after yelling homophobic epithets during a Southern Decadence demonstration.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune identifies the preachers as Patrick O'Connell, 45, Rolando Igleasias, 31, Cesar Chavez, 22, Daniel Hoogerhuis, 26, Danny Guevera, 20, Larry Craft, 52, Montes Diego, 32 and Gary Brown, 33.
The men were found to be in violation of an ordinance that prohibits "any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise," according to the publication. A police spokesman said the men were previously warned not to use bullhorns, but did not comply.
Justin Craft, 31, was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting an officer and interfering with a law enforcement investigation. The Wisconsin Gazette reports that Craft allegedly punched a police officer who tried to confiscate his bullhorn.
Anti-gay resistance to the annual Southern Decadence celebration -- which the Wisconsin Gazette deems "a mashup of Pride, circuit party and Mardi Gras," and reportedly draws an estimated 120,000 LGBT visitors to the city each year -- are nothing new. Last week, one pastor went as far to suggest that Hurricane Isaac's arrival at the same time as Southern Decadence was "is a sign that God's patience with America's sin is coming to an end."
"The church, city and nation have not repented and the homosexual agenda is far worse than it was in 2005," Defend & Proclaim The Faith's Pastor John McTernan wrote in a blog. "New Orleans is still hosting Southern Decadence with open homosexuality manifesting in the streets of the city. It could be that God is putting an end to this city and its wickedness."
Rev. Grant Storms, known as one of the festival's most vocal opponents, was reportedly convicted of obscenity last month after being caught masturbating at a public park near a children's playground in 2011.