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Basilica Block Party DJ Brian Turner says boycott not the answer

Brian Turner, a Cities 97 radio host who’s been a longtime emcee of the Basilica Block Party, says he initially considered opting out of the event this year because of the local Catholic Church’s strong support of a constitutional ban on gay marriag

Brian Turner, a Cities 97 radio host who’s been a longtime emcee of the Basilica Block Party, says he initially considered opting out of the event this year because of the local Catholic Church’s strong support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

But upon further review, he decided a boycott — as is being advocated by many on Facebook and in other arenas — is not the right approach.

In an email and follow-up interview today, Turner said those advocating the boycott have valid concerns about the Catholic Church’s stance on the gay marriage issue, but that the Basilica event is not about religious and political positions.

“A unique thing about the Block Party is that not a nickel goes to the archdiocese: it started as a way to pay for restoration of the Basilica and now pays for maintenance and further renovation, plus some goes to outreach programs for the homeless and needy in the community,” he said. “It has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with politics.”

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Turner, who is not Christian, said he does disagree with the Church’s stance on gay marriage.

In an email to MinnPost, in response to our story today on the boycott, he wrote:

I initially had some hard feelings about supporting the Basilica Block Party this year, certainly having the foment grow following the Archbishop’s blatantly political statements throughout this year regarding gay marriage. After that, however, I sought out more of my own personal truth to the matter, especially as it relates to the community of people that I felt was working inside the Basilica congregation to bring about social change. I learned that their numbers are substantial, and that their collective soul is filled with love. That’s what changed my mind about potentially opting out of the event, which — given my radio station’s deep participation — would likely have seriously ruffled some feathers!

 There are so many people worshipping inside that faith, and inside that church, trying to bring about a change of culture in a very rigid system of belief. That kind of change happens at an extremely slow pace. But I’m willing to go along at any pace, as long as there are persons whom I can assist in improving the lot of all people, and who are positively seeking equality for everyone. I’m not a Christian, but I know that’s the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.

To be sure, I can appreciate and respect a protest that is of the “not” variety — I will “not” attend or I will “not” vote or what have you. But for me, the path to real change comes from participation and dialogue. That is why I’ll be at Basilica Block Party this year, using my moments on-stage and in the audience to further the messages of inclusion, equality and love. I can’t do that if I’m not there.

 This year’s Block Party is July 8 and 9; about 25,000 people attend each year. Turner will emcee about one-hird of it, with his morning show cohost, Lee Valsvik.

“We’ll use the opportunity, on stage, to speak about love and inclusion and being all together as people, without including any deeply religious or philosophical meaning,” Turner said. “We’ll treat everyone with kindness and equality and leave it at that, and let people decide the context.” 

“I appreciate people who want to get their messsge out, but I think, in this case, it’s a case of barking up wrong tree. Of course the Basilica is attached to archdiocese, but what happens at the Block Party is not directly associated with it.”