Wednesday, December 20, 2017

In the News: Broadly

The Trans Pastor Building LGBT-Inclusive Faith Communities

"If people of faith could love the fabulous diversity of their neighbors as much as they love God—we would change the world."

Photo courtesy of Megan Rohrer
You Know Who Rules? is Broadly's December interview series highlighting women and non-binary people who accomplished incredible things during the dumpster fire of a year that was 2017.
Reverend Megan Rohrer is the first openly transgender minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The 37-year-old activist, pastor, and author preaches that we should use faith to unite, rather than divide us.
After growing up in small town South Dakota, Rohrer moved to California to complete their Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkley. Shortly after, they started working at the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco, and has been a pastor for just over a decade.
This year, Rohrer became the San Francisco Police Department’s first LGBTQ Chaplain, founded Singers of the Street, a choir made up of homeless or formerly homeless people and advocates, and initiated Welcome, an organization aiming to abolish poverty with housing, clothing, and food programs.
Broadly spoke with this pioneering faith leader about their accomplishments, common misconceptions about religion, and how we can all be more accepting in 2018.
BROADLY: You've been a pastor for 10 years: what have you learned over the past decade? MEGAN ROHRER: I have. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a pastor is that being your truest, most authentic self is a gift to others. Each week, I preach about ancient stories of faithful people who were just as diverse, fabulous, and motley as we are today. Their stories inspire me to find hope in hopeless times, having the courage to come out, act and remain authentic saves the lives of others. I receive notes every week from people who decided not to take their own lives, just because I exist. I must confess that sometimes that feels like it’s too much for one person’s shoulders. But, during a time when the president’s tweets can attack a trans policy, I’m grateful that I can use social media to inspire others.
How can people use faith to unite instead of divide? If people of faith could love the fabulous diversity of their neighbors as much as they love God—we would change the world. I wrote a children’s book called Mr. Grumpy Christian as my response to the presidential debates last year: The moral is that God’s love is not debatable. Rather than using faith to unite, I hope we will use faith to diversify. Meaning, we will be able to live ourselves enough to be vulnerable and honest without shame or fear. And we will love others enough to love them just as they are. Christians must proclaim "never again" to the kind of faith that seeks sameness—like white supremacy and anti-Semitism.
How does it feel being the first trans pastor in the Lutheran Church? I’m really fortunate to be Lutheran (ELCA), as Lutherans strongly affirm God’s love for trans folk. But it feels kind of lonely sometimes. While there are a large number of LGBT pastors who I can share experiences with, there are only 20 openly trans pastors and seminarians in the ELCA. Most of the colleagues I work with have little understanding of trans issues. Being known as a trans pastor
also means that people regularly, publicly ask me personal questions about my body and speak in overly sexual ways to me.
How do you respond to that?Because I’m a pastor, I have decided not to clarify incorrect assumptions about my private parts. This is a choice—to not participate in inappropriate conversations about my body. But this sometimes leads to people dismissing my voice. Ironically, this has happened on both sides of the coin; conservative people have dismissed me, presuming females cannot speak with authority about God. Progressive people have dismissed me as being "masculine of center."
How can people be more accepting?Mind their own business and let other people’s private parts remain private. While we live in a time where some people need to be vocal to help advocate, my hope is that in the future, people are allowed to use bathrooms in peace and be celebrated for their merit rather than their bodies. When you can, try not to be a jerk, but that’s advice for all, not just trans issues.
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What was your biggest accomplishment in 2017 and what are you looking forward to in 2018?
This year, I became the San Francisco Police Department’s first LGBTQ Chaplain and it was an honor to be able to support the officers who lost love ones in the Ghostship Fire, affected by mass casualty shootings, who were injured by bullets or other vehicles and those who mourn deaths of fellow officers. While some of the most important and life giving work I do is confidential, in ICU's, mortuaries or crime scenes, I was also able help with some major public events.
The most notable was my work to help nonviolent protests remain nonviolent. In August, I worked with community leaders, including Cleve Jones, to support over 10,000 nonviolent protesters who gathered in the weeks after Charlottesville to protest white supremacy. Marchers descended from the Castro, Mission and Grace Cathedral united at City Hall. The march also resulted in over $110,000 for diverse community groups in San Francisco. In 2018, I’ll continue my working helping to support nonviolence, by leading the Women’s March’s Peace Ambassadors. I will also be working to create a Community Chaplaincy to support San Francisco’s community policing efforts by providing a diverse interfaith chaplaincy for victims and their families.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In the News: Cosmopolitan

Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer Talks Faith And Gender As an Out Transgender Minister

"I'm a pastor. I'm a parent. I'm transgender. I am a work in progress."

Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer (pronouns they/them) is a "work in progress," they said. Raised in South Dakota, Rohrer was part of a heavily Lutheran community growing up. 
"You can imagine it's not the most fun place to figure out you're trans," they said.
In college, Megan says they were constantly harassed, and some students would use the Gospel of Matthew to insinuate it'd be better if they drowned in the ocean.
Despite the hatred, Rohrer found a way to rise above and use their faith as a source of love and acceptance. Rohrer says they received enough abuse to prompt them to pursue religious education. "I did a lot of studying and I ended up becoming a pastor," they said. "Just trying to vocalize what I knew in my gut was OK."

Rohrer is the first openly transgender pastor in the Lutheran Church, and they educate others about the importance of acceptance, saying the key to combatting prejudice is to always be your best self and, in turn, be louder than fear.
"Using faith to tear other people down is not good news," they said. "We need to all be as loud and as angry as the people who want to declare that there are types of people that God can't love."
Rohrer has written several works relating to faith and the LGBT community, which can be purchased here.
Interview/directed by: Senior video producer, Jason Ikeler
Videographer: Josh Archer
Video edited by: Andy Clancy
Video graphics by: Jené Adams

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

In the News: Bay Area Reporter

LGBTs weigh in on if minorities feel welcome in Castro


Shaun Haines. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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After Strut, the men's health center in the Castro, abruptly canceled its Black Love event in July, some LGBT African-Americans and others began discussing whether people of color feel welcome in the Castro.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which operates Strut, said the Black Love cancellation was due to an "odd" email it received that officials said "raised concern." But they never made the email public and declined further comment. They said Black Love would resume at a later date, which happened this month.
For members of San Francisco's queer African-American community, the Black Love cancellation was the latest in a long line of incidents in which people of color have felt that they are not wanted in the Castro.
Decades ago, Asian-Americans, blacks, and other minorities often had to show multiple IDs to enter bars. In 2004, blacks and others accused Les Natali of discriminating against African-Americans at his Badlands bar. That resulted in findings by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission that Natali had discriminated against African-Americans, but the findings were never official, because the HRC director at the time did not sign off on the report. The parties eventually reached a mediated settlement, and Natali has always denied the charges. After numerous court battles, Natali later bought the Pendulum, a Castro bar that catered to African-American gays, closed it for renovations, and reopened it as Toad Hall in 2009.
In 2016, Black Lives Matter dropped out of being the organizational grand marshal in the San Francisco Pride parade after Pride officials announced they were increasing police presence at the event in the aftermath of the massacre at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people died. BLM cited the numerous shootings of unarmed African-Americans by police as the reason for its decision.
Shaun Haines is a gay African-American organizer in San Francisco. He attended the October 19 Black Love program, the first one since the July cancellation.
"The event has changed. It was held on a different floor and day of the week and attracted a lot less people than what seems to be the average for events held at Strut. Someone suggested that security might be organized in conjunction with Castro Community on Patrol. They weren't present," he said, referring to the volunteer safety group.
Haines added that he greatly enjoyed the performances he saw at Black Love, which included poetry, spoken word, and comedy. He shared his feelings about both the good and bad sides of the Castro.
"The Castro is often a great place for community gatherings, recreation, and protests against our overall oppression," Haines told the Bay Area Reporter. "The Castro represents our mainstream gay community."
Haines said that the Castro can be a place where queers can gather against the Trump administration.
"We have the opportunity to join forces with other communities who are slowly starting to understand that we are all in this together," he said.
But Haines agrees that there are problems that need to be addressed.
"Among LGBT minorities, the transgender community, and for individuals with non-mainstream identities, the Castro is not widely considered to be a mecca for all," Haines said.
"We have been marching, holding rallies, and organizing demonstrations and yet not much has changed," he noted. "We feel undervalued and are underserved. We must, at every turn, demand to be heard or fight for a seat at the table or else our cultural heritage and contributions will be lost and not preserved alongside mainstream LGBT identities."
Haines feels that in most representations of the community, diversity is ignored.
The B.A.R. also spoke to Sister Merry Peter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer of Grace Lutheran Church about solutions.
"As long as there has been a Castro, vulnerable LGBTQ individuals who have felt unwelcome or unable to afford a Castro lifestyle have urged reforms, safety, and legal opportunities to become homeowners and merchants in the area and support for artists and activists," Rohrer, the first out trans pastor to lead a Lutheran congregation, said.
"The screaming queens and the vanguard youth on Polk Street in the 1960s and 1970s protested the same issues we see today," added Rohrer, referring to trans people, drag queens, and young LGBTs.
Rohrer, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, made a point of saying that they want businesses in the Castro to succeed.
"At the same time, our LGBTQ community must address the racial disparities, economic inequalities, and, sometimes, outright biases of our community," Rohrer said.
Rohrer urged the community to look back upon its history.
"LGBTQ activists must find ways to both thank the queer heroes who have brought us this far and name the ways that we have benefited from racism, economizing the bodies of others, and encouraging addiction," they said. "We must also do what we can to mentor and financially support the art, advocacy, businesses, and low-income housing options that support the most vulnerable in our LGBTQ community."
Peter also feels that much can be learned from looking back.
"Discrimination has been part of the Castro since the beginning," Peter said. "We need to listen to people's stories – people of color have never been welcome in bars. To change this, we have to admit that this is a systemic issue. We have to believe the people who feel excluded – we can't pretend that these aren't real stories. We have to start making deep and powerful changes."
Peter said that there are things people can do on a personal level.
"We have to confront our own prejudices," Peter said. "We have to make an effort to get to know people who are different from us – we have to be honest as a community that our institutions profit from discrimination."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In the News: SF Examiner

Patriot Prayer group leader says they’re returning to SF

Here we go again: Patriot Prayer announced they’re coming back to San Francisco.
On Sept. 17 the right-wing group’s organizer, Joey Gibson, wrote on Facebook that the group would return to the Bay Area.
“Berkeley and San Francisco heads up…. Patriot Prayer will be in town and march next week,” he wrote.

That’s seemingly set to be timed to coincide with Milo Yiannopoulos’ free speech week, which reportedly has been canceled. Still, the “Berkeley Rally Against White Supremacy” counter protest is scheduled for Monday.
Gibson told me via text message his group would be in the Bay Area Tuesday and Wednesday. When I asked where Patriot Prayer would go, he texted me, “Everywhere.”
I asked what he meant.
“We will be everywhere,” he replied.
Short of turning into the Flash, I was still a bit confused, and asked him to illuminate again. Gibson wrote, “I can’t give you specific details on what we are doing but it will be different but the same as what we did last time in SF.”
Different but the same? Well, that clarifies everything!
To be clear, what he did last time was cancel his rally a day before it was set to take place Aug. 26 at Crissy Field, and and instead hopped over to Pacifica as 15,000 or so San Franciscans marched in opposition to Patriot Prayer. Gibson and his followers eventually swung back into The City, and led counter-protesters and journalists on a merry chase from neighborhood to neighborhood.
At one point, he made his way to Civic Center, where counter-rally was held to promote love earlier in the day.
One of the few stragglers was a self-identified transgender woman who calls herself The Supergirl. She told me she felt Gibson and Patriot Prayer were misunderstood, and that she cried as she hugged Gibson and could feel his positive “energy.”
Well, to be fully accurate, I told her I needed to leave and walked away as she continued to sing Gibson’s praises loudly enough her voice echoed around City Hall’s dome a block away. Yeesh.
By contrast, the Rev. Megan Rohrer, a frequent rabble rouser in San Francisco, tweeted earlier this month that “On Aug 15, 2017 Joey said ’there are good members of Antifa.’ He is on whatever side the person he is talking to is on.”
It should be mentioned that the Oath Keepers, a militia that likely would not find many supporters in our lefty town, backed out of Patriot Prayer’s rally (before it was canceled) partly because Gibson scheduled Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman — who allegedly has direct white nationalist ties — as a speaker.
Still, Gibson was vague enough that I’d take it all with a huge ol’ grain of salt. If he does come, it’s a shame it may be Monday and not this weekend …
Can you imagine the right-wing Patriot Prayer accidentally finding themselves wandering through the leather-filled Folsom Street Fair on Sunday? Now that would’ve been a serious hoot.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at

Saturday, September 16, 2017

In the News: Bay Area Reporter

Online Extra: Political Notes: Poll finds many LGBT people eschew religion


Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose recently marked its 30th anniversary as a Reconciled in Christ (welcoming and affirming to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities) congregation. Photo: Jo-Lynn Otto
New polling results have confirmed what faith leaders have long known, that many LGBT people eschew religion.

According to Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, nearly half of LGBT Americans, at 46 percent, are religiously unaffiliated. The finding is roughly twice the number of Americans overall (24 percent) who are religiously unaffiliated.

The findings are from the firm's "America's Changing Religious Identity" report, which was released last week. It is the largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted, according to PRRI.

"I thought it was very accurate based on what I see among LGBTQ folks. I think it is harder in the Bay Area to come out as a Christian than as a queer person," said the Reverend Megan Rohrer, Ph.D., who is transgender and the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

Michael Chertok, a gay man who is president of San Francisco's LGBT Jewish synagogue Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, was also unsurprised by the findings. "In general, Americans are less religiously affiliated today. This is even more so in urban areas where many LGBT people live," Chertok, who was out of town attending a conference for LGBT Jews, wrote in an emailed reply. "And it is further exacerbated in the LGBT community, where some have not been accepted as who they are by their faith – and even worse, sometimes persecuted."

The report is based on findings from PRRI's American Values Atlas and interviews with more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states. It found that only 43 percent of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30 percent as white and Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in 10 (81 percent) Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55 percent) were white Protestants.

"For a long time a lot of this was anecdotal. Now, we can more clearly see this decline in religions and can see it with greater accuracy," said the Reverend Jim Mitulski, a gay man who is the interim senior minister at the Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ in Needham, Massachusetts.

Mitulski said the largely white congregation is emblematic of the churches in decline. "And we are liberal," he said. "In a sense, while I hate to see the decline, I am seeing it firsthand."

Thus, the PRRI poll "does confirm what I have been seeing," added Mitulski. It also should be a wake-up call for political leaders, he said.

"The political message is they need to stop making alliances with conservative religious leaders who are trying to use religion to control people," said Mitulski. "They need to stop seeing their alliances with religious leaders and religious organizations as something they can translate into votes."

As for the findings about LGBT Americans, the report found few identify as Christian. Only six percent of LGBT Americans are white evangelical Protestant, according to PRRI, while similar numbers identify as white mainline Protestant (8 percent) and white Catholic (6 percent).

Fewer than one in 10 identify as black Protestant (6 percent), Hispanic Catholic (5 percent), or Hispanic Protestant (3 percent), reported PRRI.

The report found stark generational differences among LGBT Americans in their religious identity. A majority (56 percent) of LGBT young adults (age 18 to 29) are religiously unaffiliated, compared to one-quarter (25 percent) of LGBT seniors (age 65 or older).

Notably, Buddhists and Unitarian-Universalists have a much higher proportion of LGBT members than other religious traditions, reported PRRI. One in seven Buddhists (14 percent) and Unitarian-Universalists (14 percent) identify as LGBT.

As for LGBT Jews, the survey found that LGBT Americans are somewhat overrepresented among non-Christian religions with 6 percent identifying as Jewish, compared to 2 percent of the general public.

"Particularly over the past year, we've seen a sharp upswing in the number of people attending our prayer services and programs – and some of the highest numbers of new members joining our community in our history, including many young people," wrote Chertok.

The Reform Jewish movement (URJ) has embraced LGBT Jews, noted Chertok, ordaining gay, lesbian, and transgender rabbis, permitting rabbis to marry same-sex couples for many years, and encouraging congregations to reach out to LGBT Jews. The Conservative Jewish movement has followed this trend, he added, noting that even some of the most fundamentalist Orthodox Jews "are starting to show openness" toward LGBT Jews.

"In general, the American Jewish community has been relatively accepting of LGBT people, compared to some other faiths," wrote Chertok. "Jewish synagogues in most major American cities, like Sha'ar Zahav in San Francisco, have had an outreach to the LGBT community for more than 40 years."

While certain Christian denominations continue to preach against LGBT people, there are those that are LGBT-affirming, pointed out Rohrer, and welcome LGBT individuals looking for a religious home.

"I think in the same way people would understand if you go to one Chinese restaurant that serves terrible food it is not emblematic of all Chinese restaurants. Research churches like where you want to go to the movies or eat food," said Rohrer. "It is work to figure out what is a safe or supportive space. We can't just assume every faith community is going to be terrible because we had abusive experiences with one faith." Despite the poll findings, Mitulski said he doesn't believe that Americans' "religious impulse" is on the decline. Prior to his moving to Boston last year, he worked in Denver and in Dallas "where church-going – even among LGBT people – is very strong," he noted.

And many LGBT people "are still gravitating," added Mitulski, to more liberal religions. "All of this is to say church leaders need to take notice that LGBT people are spiritual people but not interested in homophobic, oppressive religions," he said. "In the end I don't think anybody is."

The full report can be found online at

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In the News: Nonviolence Radio

1 PM “Nonviolence Radio” Empathic listening can do powerful work in nonviolence. In this episode, we talk with Edwin Rutsch about Empathy Tents and share a dialogue that he facilitated between Joey Gibson and Megan Rohrer, two key organizers (at political odds) from this past weekend’s rallies in SF/Berkeley.     Audio here:

In the News: ESPN

Lincoln High School Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class 
by Jeff Thurn September 5, 2017 11:15

Photo courtesy of SiouxFallsSchools via YouTube

 Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls will induct 10 new members into their Hall of Fame class in 2017.

Those members include Aaron Hove, Patrick Munson, Taun Toay, Frank Thomas, Bob Carlson, Chris Harper, Linda Yang, Megan Rohrer, Mary Cogswell and Thomas Lubeck.

If you want to get involved, you can contact Lincoln Athletic Director Joey Struwe at 605-367-7900.
The ceremony will take place Saturday September 23 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and will include a meal with a ticket cost of $35.

Read More: Lincoln High School Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Saturday, August 26, 2017

In the News: Time Magazine

Both Sides Gear Up for a Weekend of Protests in San Francisco

Updated: Aug 25, 2017 8:26 PM ET | Originally published: Aug 24, 2017
Update: The "free speech" rally planned for Saturday has been cancelled. Read more here.
Residents of San Francisco are bracing for thousands to descend on the city's streets this weekend — and hoping that there will not be violence. Weeks after a deadly confrontation between white nationalists and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Va., right-wing organizers are hosting a "free speech" event near the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday, and left-wing organizers have planned more than a dozen events around the city in response.

Though the organizers of the "free speech" event have disavowed white nationalism and say their intention is to gather peacefully, many fear that neo-Nazis will show up, a specter that has sent San Francisco's progressive activists into overdrive. "People are very alarmed by what's going on in the country," says longtime activist Cleve Jones, a well-known figure in the gay rights movement. "I have never seen the level of activity that I’ve seen over the last year.”

On Wednesday, the National Park Service issued a finalized permit for the "free speech" rally to a right wing group known as Patriot Prayer, allowing the event planned for Crissy Field to go forward. The expanse that runs along the city's northern shore is federal land, and the park service said that after consulting with their law enforcement arm, as well as the San Francisco Police Department, the decision was made to issue a permit "to promote the peaceful, non-violent expression of views."
The permit also came with conditions: not only will firearms be banned (normally concealed carry laws allow them in the area) but ralliers will not be allowed to bring anything that might be used as a weapon — pepper spray, drones, shields, bats, selfie sticks, as well as other items.
City officials do not have estimates for how many people might show up. But grassroots organizers believe there could be as many as 50,000 people in attendance this weekend, the vast majority taking part in counter-demonstrations that range from a musical celebration in Civic Center to a "mobile dance party" to the formation of a 100-foot "human heart" on Ocean Beach. Another right-wing rally planned for Sunday in Berkeley is expected to draw additional crowds from both sides.
Joey Gibson is the man behind Patriot Prayer (which he says is an "ideology" more than a group). His guess is also that the people at his rally will be vastly outnumbered by counter-protestors, and it's an educated one: The 33-year-old from Portland, Ore., has organized about a dozen similar events in the last several months.

Though they began as pro-Trump rallies, Gibson says he's left issues of "who you vote for" behind and is now focused on the belief that the First Amendment is being threatened by people who are intolerant of any viewpoints that don't match their own, on the left and the right. "People have a right to say whatever they want," says Gibson. "Hate speech is free speech ... Everyone has a right to be hateful. Unfortunately it’s not good for our society. But there is no debate, the law is the law.”
While he has publicly disavowed white supremacy and racism, Gibson also casts anti-fascist organizers known as antifa as one of the enemies of free speech — a belief that many white nationalists share. He acknowledges that individuals with extreme views have been attracted to his events in the past and that part of the intention of hosting an event in San Francisco is to show how "extremely intolerant" such liberal cities can be.

"There’s a lot people who disagree with the culture but they’re too afraid to stand up to it because they get called names, they get called Nazis, racists,” he says. There are people in cities like San Francisco who have "a meltdown when I’m sending a good message ... they’re going to get triggered and they freak out. That stuff gets on film and we send that film out so the country can see, they can see the insanity.” Such statements give credence to the notion that these rallies are being held to provoke the left, even if Gibson has spoken often about love and peace.

While officials are working to keep opposing groups far apart from each other, hoping the weekend ends without serious injuries as recent gatherings in Boston did, many expect extremists on the right and left to clash. Local lawmaker Mark Farrell, a driving force behind a "Peace, Love and Understanding" rally being hosted in the city's Civic Center, says his intention is to draw counter-protestors far from Crissy Field so that people can "celebrate our spirit in San Francisco in a way that does not give them any oxygen."

Like other city officials, Farrell has cast the Patriot Prayer event as a "Nazi rally" that will be catnip for white supremacists. When asked what he thinks of Gibson's statements about opposing such groups and promising to turn them away, he says, "I don't buy what they are selling for a minute."
His office oversees the area of the city that abuts Crissy Field and has been dealing with an influx of phone calls and emails from residents who are "angry and frightened," he says. “We want to do everything possible to encourage people not to show up at the event.”

Local organizers have been grappling with how to balance safety and the desire that residents in San Francisco have to make a statement about their beliefs. On a recent conference call, organizers from several groups swapped tips about how to maintain non-violence and traded ideas about what form protest should take.

Some of those ideas were high-minded, like setting up a website where people can, from the comfort of their homes, donate to groups that have missions antithetical to neo-Nazis. Others were lower brow, like taking dogs to poop en masse in Crissy Field before the rally was supposed to start. A suggestion to throw glitter on the rally's speakers was scrapped when someone pointed out that the glitter might hurt the "sensitive environmental habitat" in the area.

One of the people on that call was Megan Rohrer, a Lutheran pastor and volunteer chaplain for the SFPD. Rohrer, who uses the pronoun they, says some people also imagined unfurling a giant rainbow flag from the Golden Gate Bridge, which will be the backdrop for the "free speech" event.
Rohrer acknowledges that "there might be people who want to go there to have a violent encounter.” Many expect anti-fascist groups to meet the ralliers head on. But Rohrer also hopes people will attend a march from the city's Castro district to Civic Center instead. “The more we can feed people sandwiches rather than an adrenaline," they say, "the better our chances for keeping peace.”

In the News: NBC

San Francisco to Counter Patriot Prayer Rally by Eating Cake, Dancing and Leaving 'Dog Poop' at Crissy Field

Call it uniquely "San Francisco," but the City by the Bay has its own ideas for counter protests

The National Park Service on Wednesday granted a permit for a hotly-debated rally at Crissy Field this weekend.
Right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, last week applied for a permit to host "Freedom Rally San Francisco" on Saturday.
Despite criticism from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Superintendent London Breed, the National Park Service said, "We cannot deny a permit to anyone planning to exercise their First Amendment rights based on their political stance or beliefs."
Wary of whether the rally will draw white nationalists and invite violence, San Franciscans have made it known that racism and hatred are unwelcome in their hometown.
And the City by the Bay isn't stopping there. Residents have begun organizing counter-protests with unusual themes. 
Up first is "Leave your dog poop on Crissy Field" from 12 p.m. Aug. 25 through 10 a.m. Aug. 26. 
Organizers wrote on Facebook that the idea behind the event is to "leave a gift for our Alt-Right friends."
They continued: "Take your dog to Crissy Field and let them do their business and be sure not to clean it up! Watch out for landmines, friends! We can get together Sunday and clean up the mess and hug each other!"
San Francisco artist Tuffy Tuffington, who has two dogs, came up with the curious way to protest the Crissy Field rally, without needing direct conflict. 
"I was walking around and had this idea of people marching around in fields of poop," Tuffington said. "I thought that would be a nice form of civil disobedience and a way to not actually be there when they’re there."
He didn't know it would generate the interest it has, but is committed to making a stink — both literally and figuratively. So far, 525 people have demonstrated interest in this gathering, which has piqued the interest of nearly 3,000 more.
"I really intended for it to be a joke for my friends and I didn’t realize I made it public," Tuffington said. "A few hours later, there was 500 people interested."
Other counter-protesters, in true San Francisco style, are encouraging people to dance as "an alternative to hate, confrontation and aggression."
The "SF LovedUp Mobile Dance Counter-Rally" will last from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26 at Marina Green Park. Attendees will not interrupt the white supremacist rally, but will dress in their "amazing colorful fabulous best" and "groove to cheesy, party pop dance athems," organizers wrote on Facebook. 
More than 1,000 people have said they will be at the event and nearly 6,000 more are interested.
Meanwhile, Stop the Violence, Galeria de la Raza, Queer Nation-San Francisco, Castro Community on Patrol, Unafraid, and a slew of other community organizations have teamed up with the Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer for what is described on Facebook as "San Francisco Peacefully Unites Against White Nationalists."
Organizers have issued a special invite to "all drag performers and sparkly freaks" to counter "violent behaviors" from 12 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26. 
They wrote: "Believing hate groups are coming to San Francisco to bait folk into helping them recruit others to their cause and to instigate violent behaviors so lawsuits can fund their hate work, we are uniting with diverse advocates and leaders around San Francisco who are urging safety, peace, and events that will help preserve the fragile diversity of Crissy Field."
However, this peaceful gathering will not occur at Crissy Field. It will be held at Civic Center, and roughy 2,300 people have signed up to attend and another 6,200 have expressed interest.
Supporters are also encouraged to attend a march for equality called "Come Together" at Harvey Milk Plaza between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. 
As Saturday's controversial rally nears, a growing number of unique protests are coming out of the woodwork.
"Sheetcake Picnic - Protest Alternative" invites people to Hellman Hollow at Golden Gate Park to — you guessed it — eat cake between 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday.
"I'm a left handed, Jewish homosexual. I don't always love labels, but I do love myself. And in these times of tension, that's something to celebrate," the event's organizer, Simon Betsadel, wrote on Facebook.
Instead of adding to hateful rhetoric at Crissy Field, Betsadel has invited people to lay on blankets, listen to music, and enjoy food and each others' presence.
By way of extravagence, "sparkles and eye makeup" are suggested, but attendees are free to "just do whatever gives you joy," he wrote.
Betsadel urged: "Let's think about everything we have that makes us diverse, fabulous, and totally unique." 
At the same time, Resistence SF is hosting "Calling All Clowns: Fascism is no laughing matter" from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Crissy Field Beach.
The gathering is a call to action for "anti-racist, anti-fascist clowns" to "mercilessly ridicule any neo-nazis, white supremacists, or alt right trolls who dare show their face in San Francisco," according to its Facebook page.
The group's Facebook page also advertises an event simply called "Resist SF" between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Crissy Field Beach. 
Organizers wrote: "Racism is evil. It must be eradicated from the face of the earth. We will not let facist, racist, morally bankrupt degenerates invade our beautiful city and spew hate. The time for passive tolerance is over. It's time to stand our ground. Its time to stand up."
Stressing the importance of relaying to protesters that there is no room for bigotry and hate in San Franciso, Resist SF cautioned: "We are not advocating violence or physical conflicts. We are advocating (participants) -- young, old, brave, bold; show up in force, create signs and disrupt the agenda of the unwelcomed hate groups.
"One voice. One people. One love. United we will stand."
It appears that San Franciscans also refuse to rob children of the opportunity to stand up for their home.
"The Cutest Lil Counter Protest" is billed as a peaceful, family-friendly protest.
The goal is to "smother hate with as much love and cuteness as possible," starting at 11 a.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, according to Facebook.
A so-called "Cuties Parade" will start at 11:30 a.m. and end with a group photo in front of the de Young Summer of Love wall. Donations for the Southern Poverty Law Center will also be accepted.
An organization called Brown Lives Matter is hosting an "Anti-Racist Rally," which will start at 490 Marina Boulevard at 9 a.m. Saturday. 
The effort has picked up the attention of more than 300 people and aims to directly oppose Patriot Prayer's protest at Crissy Field. 
The Human Rights Commission has also spent days brainstorming on non-violent responses to the controversial free speech rally. To that end, the organization is setting up Help Against Hate stations across San Francisco and holding a peace festival, empowerment conference, community conversations and more.