HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A dispute over parking in Houston's Magnolia Grove neighborhood has led to an unusual sight. It's pitted a gay art gallery owner against a Christian pastor.
A sign outside the Hiram Butler Gallery reads, "Parking Only For Gay Conversion Therapy."
The message appeared alongside bumper stickers. They read "Follow me to the Blossom Gay Conversation Therapy Center where we pray the straight away."
Hiram Butler said the signs went up following an ongoing battle over parking. Butler said for years he's tried to address the issue but hasn't had any success with his neighbor.
Butler says a nearby church, River Pointe's West End campus, owns a house across from him. Butler said the church hosts events throughout the week.
The events crowd the street with parked cars. They also park on Butler's property.
"We tried reason. We tried anger. Neither of those things worked, so we're trying humor and see if that will reach them," said Butler. "I'm as gay as a goose. It is not anti-gay. I have been a gay activist my entire adult life on the national life. It is satire."
Butler said the sign went up on Saturday, Aug. 20, So far, things haven't changed. He said he's not ready yet to get them towed away. He described that as "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," said Butler. "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."
Artist Robert Rosenberg said he suggested the idea to Butler over coffee.
"I like to think of alternative solutions to problems that embarrass people and force them into behaving better. Apparently, it has bothered the people across the street which it was meant to. I'm a provocateur," said Rosenberg.
"It's meant to be satire. 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," said Rosenberg.
Butler said the sign will stay up for the next two months.
River Pointe Church's Senior Pastor Patrick Kelley, released the following statement to Eyewitness News when asked for comment.
"We are sorry to have inconvenienced Mr. Butler because we want to be the best neighbors possible. 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." - Patrick Kelley, Senior Pastor, River Pointe Church
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Parking dispute pushes Houston art gallery owner to put up 'Gay Conversion Therapy' sign directed at church
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