The city of Pasadena placed its health director Eric Walsh on leave this week, because it turns out that he apparently thinks DisneyLand is a "dark empire" of witchcraft, that the scientific theory of evolution is a satanic religion, and that homosexuality is a sin.
All this came to light when Pasadena City College tapped Walsh to replace their previous commencement speaker at the last minute. Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black lost his spot as commencement speaker after school officials dug up photos of him engaging in sexual acts with an ex boyfriend on "internet gossip sites," as the LA Times puts it. They obviously went very far in the other direction with their second choice.
The last-minute replacement happened because the school was trying to avoid another round of bad press this year. They've already had at least one sex scandal involving a professor there make the news. But Black took offense at the school's decision, writing an open letter that accused the school of encouraging bigotry. The disinvitation, he wrote, was:
"sending the message that LGBT students are to be held to a different standard, that there is something inherently shameful about who we are and how we love, and that no matter what we accomplish in our lives, we will never be worthy of PCC’s praise.”
That's when a group of PCC students found the publicly available sermons from Walsh, who is also a Seventh-day Adventist minister, containing his controversial remarks. Although Walsh's public remarks and actions pertaining to the city's LGBT community have not reflected the tone of his sermons, many students understandably felt uncomfortable with their school's decision to replace an LGBT individual with one who has preached incendiary remarks against them.
Here's a sample, quoted by Out Magazine:
Today you have whole shows, like Will and Grace, where the whole theme is around gayness, if there is such a word. How does the devil do it? ... He doesn’t give you a whole lot of it at once...You become immunized against something that was once was revolting to American society. That’s why there were laws...against sodomy and homosexuality. How do you go from what we had in the ’70s to gay marriage?”
As of Wednesday, the college had decided to re-invite Black, as the LA Times reported. But he hasn't yet responded. Their graduation ceremony is May 9th.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.