FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A crowd of people gathered at Fresno City Hall on Wednesday to show support for the City of Fresno raising an LGBTQ+ flag and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo hosting a “Family Pride Night” on Friday.

“Religion is supposed to bring people together in love not divide them in hate,” said one supporter, Reverend Tim Kutzmark.

Across the street, at Eaton Plaza, a demonstration took place opposing the city and the zoo. The demonstration was hosted by a group of pastors.

“We cannot be silent concerning openly dangerous or offensive behaviors,” said one pastor.

The controversy began when the Fresno Chaffee Zoo announced they were hosting the “Pride Night,” which features family-friendly drag queen performances.

Pastors at the demonstration denied on-camera interviews but released a statement saying, in part: 

“Government leaders should not publicly promote an ideology that fundamentally opposes vast numbers of their constituents… Activists should not coopt this publicly-supported community institution to target our kids and expose them to overtly sexual behavior.”

Supporters at City Hall said they believe the zoo’s event showcases diversity and inclusion.

“Children and families need to know that they’re loved and that they’re safe, and people care for them no matter who they are,” said one supporter, Rabbi Laura Novak Winer.

The zoo released a statement saying, in part:

“The Fresno Chaffe Zoo is proud to support the diverse audiences of the Central Valley. Our “Family Pride Night” event is just one of our many inclusive programs that welcome and celebrates the communities and cultures of our region.”

They go on to say their event will be age-appropriate fun for families and allies of the LGBTQ+ community with G-rated entertainment.