About 20 activists gathered Nov. 18 at Power House International Ministries, 7040 S. Western Ave., during the Sunday evening service to protest Rev. Antonio Rocquemore's removal of a 16-year-old gay teenager, Antwan Haywood, from the congregation last Sunday, Nov. 11.
As the activists began to arrive at the storefront church with their protest signs and a rainbow flag with the 50 stars, four Chicago police vehicles drove up with flashing lights. The 10 police officers formed a U-shape at the door to the edge of the sidewalk that prevented the protesters from getting close to the church.
Some of the parishioners who arrived for the service scowled at the protestors as they entered the building, with one getting into a heated discussion with a protestor about how homosexuality is interpreted in the Bible.
During the protest, Haywood explained that Rocquemore ejected him because of the way he was dressed the previous weekendcheckered button down shirt, black jeans and black boots with wedge heels. Haywood was also pulled aside by one of the police officers, who told him he was getting too loud with his protest chants.
"I thank God for all my supporters here and on social media," said Haywood. "No church can put me in heaven or hell. Only God can do that and for [the pastor] to put me out of the church was wrong. Also, all of these police [officers] being here is not right either because I told everyone this was going to be a peaceful protest and I would not stand for any violence."
"What they did to my son was wrong," said Haywood's mom, Tonia Haywood.
"Having this many police officers here is ridiculous," said lesbian activist and protest organizer Courtney Haskins. "God loves everybody. I asked the pastor's wife if Antwan was allowed in the church tonight and she said no. I asked if God would let him into heaven based on how he was dressed and she had no reply except to say she was not God."
"God loves you no matter what so you should come as you are, not how others want you to be," said protestor Ardelia Perry.
"We should not have to stand out here and fight for who we are when someone [like the pastor] is trying to wrong us for the wrong reasons," said protestor Mia Forman. "We are representing the LGBT community and nothing else. We love God and Jesus just as much as [the pastor] does or so he says, but all I can see here [with this church] is a cult."
When asked why her pastor husband ejected Haywood from the church service the previous weekend, Lela Rocquemore confirmed that it was due to how he was dressed.
See www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Local-minister-ejects-gay-parishioner-for-wearing-womens-clothes/64750.html for more on this story.