The day after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, Columbus, Ohio held their annual community festival, called ComFest. During the festival, there was a street preacher very loudly preaching anti-gay rhetoric, while another man held a large sign that read “Jesus Saves From Hell.” That is, until, the street preacher had a run in with a little girl named Zea.
Zea Bowler is a 7-year-old first grader who was enjoying ComFest with her parents and younger brother, when a man near the little girl and her family began yelling at the street preacher. Being a curious little girl, Zea wanted to know what was going on, says Ryan Bowler, Zea’s father.
“A guy started yelling past us, in response to the street preacher, and Zea asked what he was angry about. When we told her the man was responding to the preacher, who wasn’t on a microphone yet, she wanted to know what the preacher was saying.”
Ryan moved his little girl closer to the street preacher to show her what was going on. When he explained to her why he was yelling at people, Ryan said her response was “confusion, followed by shock as to why he would bother to come to ComFest just to be so mean.”
Zea’s father says that once the street preacher saw Zea moving towards him, the preacher “deflated visibly when he saw her coming. [He] was much more sodomy, brimstone, and bellowing until she got close to him.” Even though he toned it down, he still focused his onslaught on the little girl.
“You can live a life full of His redeeming power. You’d have someone to look after you,” he yelled, while bending down to her level.
Instead of cowering in fear, however, or yelling back, Zea stood her ground, and silently — and powerfully — raised a rainbow flag in the preacher’s direction, and continued to stand strong throughout his entire speech.
“She has a very keen sense of justice about the whole thing,” Bowling said. “When I told her on Friday, she said, ‘It’s what I’ve wanted for years. Now, if I did want to marry a girl, we could just be ourselves.”
Zea’s father managed to capture a few minutes of the encounter on video, and photographer Mara Gruber snapped a picture of it. That picture has now been transformed into a T-shirt by local designer Zachary Traxler, who will be donating all proceeds from the t-shirt to Zea herself. Some of which, the little girl’s father adds, will be donated to a local LGBT charity, per Zea’s wishes.
“Zea is clear that she wants it to be used to help LGBT kids have a place that they can be safe,” Ryan says.
The shirts range between $18 and $24, and can be purhcased on Traxler’s website Traxler Tees.
There is a lesson to be learned from the little girl who stood tall against a raving street preacher with nothing but a rainbow flag, and her courage.
[Image Credits: Header — Mara Gruber/Facebook, Body — Traxler Tees]