Published: Friday, Jun. 17th, 2022
AMM Jan Shannon spoke at an Idaho Pride event that sparked national attention this week. We caught up with her to hear about her experiences.
When AMM Minister Jan Shannon stepped on stage at the Coeur d'Alene Pride in the Park event to deliver an inclusive opening prayer, she was greeted by a cheerful crowd waving rainbow flags and banners announcing ‘Live, Love, Be United!’
She also faced men weaving through the crowd with AR-15s and pistols, and loud harrasment from anti-gay Catholics and other religious protestors nearby.
Later, dozens of masked men – members of the white nationalist neo-Nazi group Patriot Front – would be arrested a short distance away for planning a riot at the peaceful downtown celebration.
Through it all, however, Minister Shannon kept her cool… and kept her message focused on the unifying power of love.
“I think the one thing we can agree on is that love unites us,” she told AMM.
Minister Jan Shannon delivering the opening prayer at Pride in the Park.
"I believe in love. I believe that whatever spirit exists outside our existence is love, in nature and in presence.” (via Coeur d'Alene / Post Falls Press)
She and the other presenters at the event refused to let the protestors and far-right groups ruin the day, or distract from that higher calling of love and unity.
Her speech went off as planned, drag queens played dance music to keep the negativity at bay, and the crowd’s spirits stayed high.
Despite the unusual circumstances and risk of violence, Minister Shannon told us that “the crowd itself was really positive all day and everybody just tried to have fun.”
“We came together to celebrate love in all its possibilities.”
(And that’s just what they did!)
In the end, her message reminds us that the loudest voice in a crowd is always the voice of love.
Pride in the Park, photo via the North Idaho Pride Alliance Facebook Page
31 members of the neo-Nazi Patriot Front group were arrested Saturday for planning a riot at the peaceful Coeur d'Alene Pride event. Their detainment was captured on video by journalist Alissa Azar who shared it on Twitter. The video has already been viewed over 12.5 million times, and can be seen here @alissaazar
The annual North Idaho Pride Alliance Pride in the Park event draws a lot of attention each year – both positive and negative – in the strongly conservative region.
In Kootenai County, where Coeur d’Alene is located, nearly 70% of the population regularly votes Republican and 60% identify as very religious. Idaho is well known for far-right extremism and anti-LGBTQ+ views.
Still, these numbers don’t paint a full picture: More than 1,000 local residents attended this year’s Pride in the Park event, the largest turnout in the event's history, and were joined by a large group of drag queens, food vendors, performers, and volunteers.
Organizers say that support for the LGBTQ+ community in the area is at an all time high, and continues to grow each year.
AMM Minister Jan Shannon creates a bridge between the faith community and the LGBTQ+ community
As a gay woman of faith, AMM Minister Jan Shannon is no stranger to religious discrimination. Once a licensed Reverend of the Church of the Nazarene, she was dismissed from her position and forced to leave the church when she came out.
Since then, she’s served as a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community while continuing to carry a message of faith – first as an assistant pastor with the United Church of Christ in Spokane, WA; then as a campus intern with the United Methodist Church; and now, as an ordained minister with American Marriage Ministries.
She remains a dedicated member of the Methodist Church, and works to create a bridge between queer and faith communities through service at interfaith gatherings and other public events, such as the 2016 Women’s March in Spokane and this year’s Pride in the Park celebration.
Each year, Minister Shannon organizes an Interfaith Pride Worship Service as part of Spokane, Washington’s annual Pride Week. The gathering offers prayer, conversation, and community across faith lines.
Read more this annual interfaith event in Spokane Favs: Annual Interfaith Pride Worship Service welcomes LGBTQ community members
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