The self-described “most arrested Christian preacher” in England was surrounded by rainbow flags for a day after two passers-by decided he needed a little sprucing up.
Michael Overd has made a name for himself around the town of Taunton with his frequent rambling speeches, often harassing the public about issues like abortion and homosexuality.
Last weekend, he was engaged in one of his typical rants on a local street when town councillor Diogo Rodrigues and local event planner Bev Milner-Simonds happened by.
In response to Overd’s rhetoric, they brought together some small rainbow flags and placed them in a circle around the preacher as a part of a peaceful protest.
Overd reportedly called the flags "disrespectful towards myself," and accused the two of being "rabble rousers" and "bullies."
Police arrived at some point, though it’s unclear who summoned them. Though they said Overd wasn’t breaking any laws, they suggested that he move along.
Rodriguez, who runs a restaurant in town with his husband Nathan, told the Somerset County Gazette, "for us as LGBT adults, we like many others have gone through so much pain, rejection and self-doubt as young people, and we would hate for any young person struggling with their identity today to walk past that man and hear that they are not good enough or an abomination.”
Overd defended his homophobic ramblings, saying, “I am a hate preacher - I hate what God hates… I'm a fire and brimstone preacher, but I don't take pleasure from it.”
He added, “you can disagree with a person's lifestyle without hating them.”
Overd’s own lifestyle, which involves shouting at strangers from sidewalks for hours at a time, isn’t likely to change. Milner-Simonds had tried to engage with him in a dialogue over his views but was shut down. "I'm primarily there to speak, not to listen,” Overd said.
In the past, he’s been arrested but not convicted for disrupting public order and for antisocial behavior. Thousands of locals signed a petition to have him banned from the city center.
Earlier this year, a case against him was dropped after it was discovered that police did not properly complete paperwork documenting his offenses.