Historic queer landmark transformed into tone-deaf Rush Limbaugh tribute to the fury of LGBT+ locals

Rush Limbaugh

A queer-friendly theatre at the centre of a row between the local LGBT+ community and an allegedly homophobic church has erected a tribute to Rush Limbaugh.

In recent weeks the conservative Adventure Church has drawn angry protests as it attempts to move into Los Angeles’ Tower Theatre, a historic venue beloved by LGBT+ locals where it currently holds Sunday services

The pastor insists he “welcomes” LGBT+ members and blames the city of Fresno for the controversy. But queer locals were further incensed by a message displayed on the building’s fronting on Thursday (18 February).

“Thank you Rush for teaching us,” read the words on the Tower Theatre marquee, in place of the usual cinema listings. “You will be missed very much. But never forgotten. R.I.P.”

It’s not confirmed whether Adventure Church is responsible for posting the sign, but the fawning tribute has appalled an already angry community who have been pushing back against the congregation for months.

“Don’t talk to me about how welcoming Adventure Church is to the LGBTQ community when they allow this up on the marquee next to their church name,” Fresno resident Heather Parish wrote on Twitter.

Rush Limbaugh died aged 70 on Wednesday (18 February) after making a name for himself with his extreme anti-LGBT+ views on The Rush Limbaugh Show.

He’ll be missed by few queer people, who mainly knew him for his obsessive homophobic hatred. Among his cruellest acts was a dedicated radio segment which mocked and celebrated AIDS deaths by announcing each one to a soundtrack of disco music.

The 700-seat Tower Theatre was built in 1939 as the city’s first suburban cinema. Now a hub for arts and culture, it reportedly carries a price tag of $6.5 million.

The building has hosted Fresno’s Reel Pride Film Festival for more than three decades and is the finishing spot for the local Pride parade, giving it a special significance for Fresno’s LGBT+ community.

But with the theatre out of action due to coronavirus, Adventure Church has been renting the building for its Sunday services since the beginning of the pandemic – an arrangement it hopes to make permanent.

Last week the ongoing protests caught the attention of stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman, who called on her fellow celebrities to intervene.