Updated: Aug 29
.......that's the headline we as a community have deserved for the last two years from local media outlets covering One Family Church's purchase of the historic Tivoli theatre from Joe Edwards. A sale that should have never happened without guarantees that the space would continue to operate for the benefit of everyone in the community.
Despite the outpouring of concern in the comments of every article at the time, the media never followed up and informed us of what was really going on. Our community was too exhausted to do more than express concern, as this was the tail-end of the pandemic, and we were drained and disorganized from years of plague, isolation, insurrection, and direct attacks on us by Conservatives in the government.
One Family Church also put a lot of effort into obfuscating their position, never really telling everyone one way or another what their plans were and who would still be allowed to participate in the space. They purposefully lead people on, in dialogue both public and private, especially before the sale was finalized.
The truth is: no film representing the LGBTQ+ community will ever be shown at One Family Church's Tivoli. Rocky Horror was kicked out, as was any other institution that didn't fit in with the church's agenda or beliefs.
Not only that, it has been detailed to us directly by former members of Tivoli's Rocky Horror troupe that One Family Church trashed all of Rocky Horror's props and items, worth thousands of dollars and priceless in historic value. This value was told to us by former organizers of Rocky Horror Picture Show. While we were never shown any any receipts, we accept the value they placed on their items. (This last bit has been added to respond to a legal threat by One Family Church, accusing us of libel and defamation by posting a value of the destruction they caused which they say is inflated-8/14/23).
How do we know all this? Unlike the RFT, the Post-Dispatch, and other outlets covering the sale and reopening of the Tivoli building to the public; a member of our team, Angelo Ossessivo, talked to Pastor and founder of the church Brent Roam about these issues in a meeting he had at the Gelateria a few weeks ago. (Angelo wanted to take all due consideration before making the findings of that meeting public, and goodness knows we've got a festival in September we're planning at this time too).
Brent confirmed that the church did indeed destroy their props, but did so only because Rocky Horror didn't try hard enough to get them back. We find that explanation totally unacceptable. Whether through malice or negligence, this was a shocking revelation and something the church needs to answer for.
(We want to clarify this once again in response to Brent Roam's continued and repeated accusations of defamation: this blog post did not use the legal definition of "malice" and "negligence" but instead the colloquial sense of the words. The conclusion that we came to is that these actions were morally wrong, not necessarily illegal. We have no stance on the legality of all of this as we're not lawyers. It really doesn't matter if the forms of discrimination are legal, or done without the explicit intent hurt the LGBTQ+ community. We are expressing our dismay at what we interpret to have transpired, and criticizing them for it. Criticism isn't illegal (libelous or defamatory) just because someone or an organization feels they don't deserve to be criticized; especially when it's an opinion backed up with evidence, logic, and reason. Anyone can go on the Rocky Horror Show at the Tivoli's Facebook page and see all the props they used over the years themselves, and ask them to tell their side of the story directly: https://www.facebook.com/EddiesTeddies/ -8/21/23)
Brent also directly and unequivocally told Angelo that they would not allow any future showing of any LGBTQ+ film.
The conversation was candid, respectful, and not entirely negative. We want to be completely honest about this; Brent Roam showed no animosity towards LGBTQ+ people and also confirmed that despite the church's teachings condemning homosexuality and non-cis-gendered identity as sins; they welcome LGBTQ+ people to their church and they have some out members of their congregation. It's not a major focus of theirs to convert or control the sexuality and gender of their members.
While we do not accept any teachings or beliefs that do not support LGBTQ+ people; we understand that this is a common belief amongst many faiths and denominations. It's up to each LGBTQ+ person whether or not they want to participate in a church that doesn't fully accept or support them, though we all know that the health and well-being of anyone in an environment like that is at risk even if it's not an aggressively homophobic space. Even so, we don't go and bang on every church door demanding they conform to pro-LGBTQ+ tenets.
However, and this is what make this issue unique and why we felt the need to get involved: One Family Church took over a historic space that our community has used for a very long time and essentially kicked us out unless we conform to their beliefs.
At the same time, they plan to reopen as a theatre to the public, showing only films that they find acceptable according to their faith. The media has been *promoting* this reopening without, again, addressing the hurt caused to our community by One Family Church taking the space over.
Brent has stated he's open to dialogue and compromise, but is currently unwilling to change the church's stances on LGBTQ+ sinfulness or allow any pro-LGBTQ+ representation in the Tivoli space while those stances are in place.
So what do we as a community do? This is what TGPride feels is the best course of action:
1. We are asking everyone that supports our community to advocate for them to reconsider their position. To make the Tivoli space once again an open, welcoming, and supportive place for everyone.
2. We also believe it is inappropriate for them to reopen their church to the public as a theater while denying equal representation on the screen they now control. we ask that noone supports the church's screenings until they change their position. (Also, we need it to be very clear that the Tivoli is *not* a theatre anymore, it is a church with a theatre space and the historic Tivoli sign attached to the building.)
3. We would like to see a peaceful rally with an overall positive message: https://www.facebook.com/events/312246124520267 . Because our community's concerns have been ignored until this point, we believe that the only way to make sure the public is fully informed of the situation is to make our concerns, and our hurt, as visible as possible. Anyone interested in organizing or attending the rally can join this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tivolirally
4. We encourage all faiths with a pro-LGBTQ+ interpretation of the Christian Bible to contact One Family Church in the hopes that they may see the harm and inaccuracy in their LGBTQ = Sin interpretation. (Maybe, one day, One Family Church will be able to join the dozens of other pro-LGBTQ+ churches that participate in Tower Grove Pride every year. )
We understand if everyone is still exhausted by the past few years of trauma and pain, and that even at this time there are bigger issues than defending one theatre space for the LGBTQ+ community. At the very least, it is important that we actually know what is happening so everyone can make an informed decision.
-Tower Grove Pride Team