A bunch of self-described “Soldiers of Christ” held a huge, deliberately-conspicuous prayer sesh in an attempt to drown out a Heaps Gay gig happening in front of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. Yes, this is unfortunately still a thing in 2021.
The Saturday night concert was part of the Sunset Piazza summer program, and it looked like a whole lotta fun, tbh. However, some people were upset by an unofficial flyer for the gig which showed the façade of the cathedral, and perhaps even disagreed with the performances itself, for some reason.
“As the cathedral forecourt is council land and not church property, the decision about the content of the concert and its advertising is unfortunately not ours to make,” Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said in a Facebook post on Wednesday, ahead of the performance.
“It is frustrating and upsetting that St Mary’s Cathedral, the mother church of Australia, has been used so provocatively to promote this event and such little sensitivity shown to people of faith.”
The image of the cathedral was quickly removed from the flyer, but the Archbishop’s comments copped a fair bit of flak, not least from the community of gay Catholics and allies in Sydney.
The following day, a bunch of Christians decided to take matters into their own hands by organising a provocative mass prayer of the rosary on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral to coincide with the Heaps Gay gig.
“Time to really show up and defend our church and our faith. The most powerful way is through prayer,” one of the prayer sesh’s online coordinators said, despite him actually being in Lebanon at the time of the event.
It’s unclear why the biggest Catholic place of worship in Sydney needed to be “defended” from a bunch of talented Aussie performers and an audience who just wanted to have a good time after lockdown.
Worshippers started gathering just before the concert at around 6pm and even erected banners with Bible quotes facing towards the Heaps Gay show.
After the mass prayer of the rosary – which they stressed was peaceful – the attendees began singing hymns in the direction of the gig.
“They were trying to drown out the music with hymns,” one performer told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“You could definitely see and hear the Christians.”
One of the online coordinators for the protest described the moment as: “Soldiers of Christ standing outside St Mary’s Cathedral singing ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom’ after rosary facing the gay and queer concert.”
However, the impromptu choir was thankfully no match for the sound of punters vibing to Madonna.
The performer told P.TV that staff were briefed about the demonstration and even offered a police escort out of the venue if need be. The organisers stood by the event amid all the drama.
“There is no place for hate, intolerance or the sowing of division,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore told The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, ahead of both the gig and the protest.
“As we seek to revitalise the city centre and recover from the impact of the pandemic, we will continue to host inclusive, accessible and safe events.”
The City of Sydney council also stressed that there was no beef between them and St Mary’s Cathedral about the Heaps Gay event.
While the protesters didn’t post anything explicitly homophobic, the context is pretty damning. Firstly, Archbishop Fisher was a vocal opponent of marriage equality and literally preached against it.
On top of that, many of the same people who rocked up to this prayer sesh did something very similar during the marriage equality campaign and even cheered when two gay murals in Sydney were vandalised following the postal survey results.
That says it all, really.