A YOUNG man pictured kissing his partner in front of religious protesters has said they are ‘blown away’ by people’s support after the photo went viral.

Joe Fergus, his boyfriend Robert Brookes, and their friend Rose Allen arrived at Storyhouse on Tuesday to enjoy the musical Rocky Horror Show when they saw a group of churchgoers standing opposite the entrance, signs in hand protesting the show inside.

Joe said: “When I saw the protesters, lots of people were arguing and shouting back at them. You’re never going to get rid of hate with hate, so we decided to spread some love.”

That is when Joe decided to kiss Robert in front of the protesters while Rose took a photograph.

The picture has subsequently been shared across social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, with hundreds liking, sharing and sending positive words of encouragement.

Joe told The Standard about one particularly unpleasant comment that was directed towards the couple when they stood up against the protesters.

He said: “One of the protesters actually said ‘oh that’s lovely.... that’s lovely... you’re an abomination!’

“I respect everyone is entitled to their opinion; however, I am also entitled to kiss my boyfriend wherever I want without judgment, and that’s what we were fighting.”

Churchgoers from the Zion Tabernacle Protestant Evangelical Church in Chester have previously been seen protesting various events, including the Winter Watch Parade and Chester Pride.

Nobody is certain whether they will turn up at this Sunday’s Chester Pride event, but with their past history and recent sightings it may be likely they protest again.

Joe said: “It’s unfortunate the protesters do what they do.

“After researching them and seeing what they stand for, it makes me even prouder we stood up to them.

“We actually did the same thing at last year’s pride and I highly encourage everyone to do the same thing because arguing with them is pointless.”

Chester and District Standard:

The pair hit back against the same protesters at last year’s Chester Pride event (Photo Credit: Rose Allen)

The couple were delighted when the photo was shared around, but also surprised when they saw and heard of their actions being mentioned in the media.

Joe said: “Both of us are completely blown away and humbled by the response to the photo.

“We can’t quite believe it. It goes to show the views of the protesters are very minimal amongst the Chester community.”

* There is a counter-protest organised by members of the LGBT+ community at 6.45pm outside Storyhouse this evening (Thursday, September 19) and all are welcome.