Sporting tight shorts and electric pink hair, an anti-gay crusader infiltrated the Vancouver Pride parade last weekend to distribute homophobic leaflets disguised as condoms.
Bill Whatcott and four other evangelical Christians from Edmonton and North Dakota marched in the parade under the fictional banner of the Calgary Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They handed out 2,500 "gospel condoms" along the route to spread their message that "those who give themselves over to homosexuality suffer grievously because of their sin."
Photos posted online show the activists admittedly enjoying the "ungodly event."
"Seeing as all the pagans were having fun while rebelling against God, we would have fun too, while evangelizing the parade route and winning souls for the Lord," wrote Whatcott in an online forum for social conservatives.
"Brilliantly done! You looked appropriately disgusting!" wrote an online commenter. "The grotesque dancing, the placement of your little coin purse, the ugly colors, the blasphemous beads, I can see how your enemies didn't recognize you; I didn't either."
Another person commented: "Bill, I'm not sure evangelizing under the cover of deceit is such a good idea. If you have to make up a cult to get people's attention, I'm not sure it gives Christ a lot of credibility."
All parade participants are rigorously screened, the general manager of the Vancouver Pride Society told Daily Xtra. But Whatcott's application may have fallen under the radar because a legitimate branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) had previously appeared in the parade, said the newspaper.
(FSM is a recognized movement that opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools.)
Whatcott used a pseudonym to apply for a parade permit, and went so far as to create a fake website and fake phone number for the group.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a Saskatchewan ruling against Whatcott, who was found to have violated human rights rules by distributing pamphlets denouncing gay people.
Whatcott, the executive director of the Christian Truth Activists, told Daily Xtra that he has marched in Pride events in Alberta and Saskatchewan without disguising his identity, but the receptions there were colder than in Vancouver.
“Vancouver Pride loved me 100 per cent, and it was positive from beginning to end," he said.