Fighting hate with love

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In response to conservative groups speaking out against LGBT rights, a coalition of Philadelphia organizations plans to stage a “pop-up love party” this week.

The Free Speech Bus, a bright-orange tour bus stopping in East Coast cities to rally fellow anti-transgender advocates, will arrive in Philadelphia on March 29. Gregory Mertz, the U.S. director of CitizenGo, one of three groups sponsoring the bus, told Metro last week that conservatives “feel like they’re being silenced by a small but very loud group of people.”

Organized on Facebook by the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs in partnership with the Mazzoni Center and other LGBT advocacy groups, the pop-up love party is intended to “peacefully counteract” the Free Speech Bus.

The pop-up love party asks participants to “stand up … against transphobia, ignorance and injustice,” and invites trans people and their allies to bring signs – and love.

“Allowing this bus to park on our streets while spreading these inaccurate ideas is harmful to our city and the fabric of our community,” the event page says in reference to a message on the exterior of the bus that challenges the legitimacy of being transgender.

Decorated with boy and girl stick figures with their respective XX and XY chromosomes, the bus stands out with this slogan: “Boys are boys…and always will be. Girls are girls…and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.”

The National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family, two other groups organizing the campaign along with CitizenGo, have yet to announce where their bus will park in Philadelphia. Organizers for the pop-up party said they will follow suit.

Last week, the bus spent three days in New York City, where it was met with strong opposition. Reports said protesters scratched the bus with keys, cracked windows and spray-painted the bus with the message “trans liberation.”

A similar bus in Madrid – CitizenGo is headquartered in Spain – was impounded by city officials earlier this month to prevent a hate crime.

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