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LGBT supporters confront Lively at vigil

  • About 100 people gathered in front of the North Quabbin Community Coalition on Exchange Street for a “No Place For Hate” vigil this week. Below, more participants at the event. MITCHELL GROSKY photos

  • Scott Lively, a candidate for Massachusetts governor, talks with the crowd at a gathering in support of LGBT rights. Lively has been an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, though he says he’s only against gay marriage and that he does not hate anyone. MITCHELL GROSKY

  • MITCHELL GROSKY  MITCHELL GROSKY

  • MITCHELL GROSKY  MITCHELL GROSKY



Thursday, August 30, 2018

ATHOL — On a hot summer evening this week, a group of about 75 to 100 people gathered peacefully to make a strong statement of support for their neighbors — one of tolerance, acceptance and love.

The event was organized by state Rep. Susannah Whipps.

“Please come out and show your support for our LGBT family members, friends and neighbors,” she asked before the event.

According to organizers and participants, people came out because Scott Lively, candidate for governor of Massachusetts, has been an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights.

“I’m asking you to join me and my friends for a peaceful, non-confrontational vigil to show our support and acceptance of our LGBT friends and loved ones,” said Whipps — and that’s what it was.

The vigil began in front of the North Quabbin Community Coalition, but later participants peacefully walked down the road in front of the American Legion where a group was hosting a dinner to introduce Lively.

After standing quietly for 10 to 15 minutes, Lively came out and began speaking to groups of individuals as he went down the line. He tried to tell people that they were misunderstanding him — that he did not hate anyone — that he was only against gay marriage.

A number of people spoke to Lively, disputing his ideas, according to Mitchell Grosky, who was in attendance and took photographs of the vigil. Those who attended said they felt that hatred of any group because of their sexual preference, or their race, or their color, or their religion, or their ethnicity, or their country of origin is wrong, reprehensible and is not in any way part of what people stand for in the North Quabbin area.

“To see someone like Lively welcomed into our town by a few people made me upset,” said Whipps. “There is nothing our group could have said or done to change (his) opinion on any subject – it was more of a showing for people in this community to know they have friends, they have allies and they have supporters. There is a strong group of people here who are going to stand up to make sure our community is safe for everyone.”

When Lively claimed that he had nothing to do with hate, Grosky, said he told him told him that most of the people in the crowd had friends or family members who were gay or lesbian and that they had a long-term commitment, a strong relationship with another person that was deep and caring and loving, and that the actions that he was taking – and has taken around the world – have seriously hurt, have seriously injured people that they care about and love.

When Lively kept saying that he did not hate anyone, Grosky interjected that even if peaceful protestors took him at his word that he does not hate gays, lesbians and other members of the LGBTQ community, it is still true that his writings and speeches provide a forum for people who do hate gays – and those prejudiced people feed off his words.

Grosky said his point was that when people like Lively rail against gay marriage, against rights for gay men and women, then those who hate are provided a platform to articulate that hate, spread their hate, infecting others with the same hatred for people who are different than they are.

When Lively said he wanted Massachusetts to return to the natural order (of marriage only between members of the opposite sex), Grosky said it was only a hundred years ago that the “natural order” dictated that women should stay in the kitchen, that black girls and boys had to go to separate schools from white girls and boys, that white and black people could not even drink from the same water fountain.

“I suggested that it is fortunate that we have evolved from that time, and that we have evolved in this respect, as well,” said Grosky.

“We need to treat people the way we would like to be treated,” said Grosky. “Just what our moms and dads always told us: be kind to others, be accepting of others, try to make the world a little better, a little kinder, a little gentler.

“That’s what the people at the vigil were saying. There is no room for hatred in the North Quabbin. We will support our neighbors and we will speak out against intolerance and prejudice, against bigotry and discrimination, wherever and whenever we find it. We will all do our part to leave the world – or at least our small part of it – a little better than we found it,” said Grosky.

Whipps said she was grateful to be a part of the group and it “filled” her heart to see the community show up for the event. “We set the tone and it wasn’t combative or confrontational, it was just to show support. If a young person in town is looking and seeing that Lively was being hosted for an event in town, it might give them some discomfort. But for them to see the number of people who came out to support their community, I think that was an important message,” she said.


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