A parking dispute in a Houston neighborhood has “pitted a gay art gallery owner against a Christian pastor,” according to a report from Houston’s ABC13.
Art gallery owner Hiram Butler says that River Pointe Church owns property across the street from his gallery, but church members have been continually parking in four parking spaces reserved for his business. According to Butler, he’s been trying to get the church to heed his complaints about the issue for years, but to no avail.
“We tried reason. We tried anger. Neither of those things worked, so we’re trying humor and see if that will reach them,” Butler told ABC13.
In the disputed parking spaces, he put up a sign that read “Parking Only For Gay Conversion Therapy.”
Butler made sure to clarify that he doesn’t actually endorse the sign’s message.
“I’m as gay as a goose,” he said. “It is not anti-gay. I have been a gay activist my entire adult life … It is satire.”
Although the sign still hasn’t dissuaded churchgoers from parking in his spaces, Butler doesn’t want to resort to having anyone’s cars towed away, saying that taking that sort of action is “more aggressive” than he wants to be.
“They’ve had events. They’ve continued to occupy all the parking spaces on the south side of the street and all of the parking spaces on the north side of the street,” Butler said. “We would not care if they park in our parking spaces one night a week. three to five nights a week where you can’t park? It’s not acceptable.”
Butler got the idea from his friend, artist Robert Rosenberg.
“I like to think of alternative solutions to problems that embarrass people and force them into behaving better,” Rosenberg said. Apparently, it has bothered the people across the street which it was meant to. I’m a provocateur.”
“It’s meant to be satire,” Rosenberg added. “It’s meant to ironic. Sometimes the only way to deal with those people is hitting them over the heads as hard as you can with a joke.”
When asked for comment by ABC13, River Pointe Church released a statement saying that they’re aware of the issue and they’re trying to resolve it.
“We are sorry to have inconvenienced Mr. Butler because we want to be the best neighbors possible,” the statement from Pastor Patrick Kelley read. “We host a Bible study across the street from Mr. Butler’s property, in our private residence, and will continue to be diligent to prevent our guests from using Mr. Butler’s four parking spaces.”
Butler says the sign will stay up for 10 more months.
Watch ABC13’s report on the story below:
Featured image via screen grab