It’s been 2 and a half years since I took my maiden voyage in the Fagbug. Remember that trip I took from Seattle to New York in that rainbow car in the summer of 2013?
If you don’t, you can check it out here:
Well, the rainbow love doesn’t end there. Perhaps you’ve heard of something called the Equality House. Or, if you haven’t heard of the house, perhaps you’ve heard of the neighborhood that the house is built in…
In Topeka, Kansas, there is a small group of people who make up the Westboro Baptist Church. This group of people is often referred to as “the most hated family in America.” They are known for their intense behavior and their anti-gay agenda. Often, they can be seen in the media picketing funerals of gay soldiers. (I came face to face with 5 of them in 2009 when they attempted to picket a funeral of a gay solider in Buffalo, NY — about 200 other people and I put ourselves between the funeral and the picketers and didn’t allow them to disrupt the family’s grieving process. We made national news). They are based in Topeka. In response to this churches cruel attacks on gays and military men, the Equality House, a place of acceptance and love, was established across the street. I went there in summer 2014, one year after my journey in the Fagbug.
While the neighbors across the street are constantly snagging time in the limelight from the media for their rambunctious behavior, this home was purchased and painted rainbow to counter the hate being spewed from across the street. Structurally, it is nothing more than a house in neighborhood in Kansas, but the symbolism that the house radiates is something else entirely.
In June of 2014, I was nervous as I found my way off of the highway through Kansas and listened intently to the instructions from the GPS as I navigated my way through Topeka. As the mileage crept by, I could sense myself getting closer to the Westboro Baptist Church and felt an uneasiness about approaching people who, I knew, if they met me, would reject my very existence. And still, curiosity had the better of me. I made the final turn onto the street and I found myself wedged between the two opposing homes.
As you can tell from the photos in this blog entry, the “Rainbow House” is very inviting. While the house across the street may have security cameras, fences, and warning signs, the Equality House has a welcome sign, an open front door, and happy residents looking to greet anyone who comes on their property. Upon my arrival, I knocked on the front door and was invited in to meet the residents and take pictures of the inside of the house. It was a pleasant few minutes. While I was there, other people meandered onto the property to take photos and to chat with the owners. I got the chance to explain that I had taken a long voyage in the Fagbug, and helped film the sequel to the documentary, Fagbug Nation, which actually features a segment about the equality house. The rainbow car got the chance to meet the rainbow house. As I wrapped up my visit to the Equality House, I stepped outside and noticed two children across the way. They were playing basketball, tucked carefully behind the safety of the fence around their driveway and yard. They were being raised by the WBC. I don’t like to think about the upbringing those kids are having. The man who had given me the tour of the house said he had never seen anyone in the yard before.
The hate across the street looked like this:
There is something to be said about an experience such as this one. On a sunny June day in the capital of Kansas, I found myself standing on a street, staring down two very different views of the world. As a matter of fact, I was feeling two very different views of the world. When I first arrived on the street, my focus was on the WBC. A sense of discomfort rushed over me as I saw the upside down flags being jostled back and forth in the wind, as my eyes ran over the words “fag marriages doom nations” and “God hates America”. How could it be that someone could think so little of the world, of humanity? Fortunately, turning around, a different yet equally powerful presence radiated through me. To read the welcome signs and to view the calming, life-filled walls of the building, it was instantly relieving from all of the hurt across the street.
To sum it up, their websites are godhatesamerica.com and plantingpeace.org.
Which will you be visiting?
A thought I’ve had since that day I visited this confused place:
The people of the Westboro Baptist Church are living authentically. They truly believe that what they are doing is helping the world. They live their lives the way that they think they should be lived, and they live for God. There’s something to the whole thing, as sick as it is. My heart says otherwise, my heart disagrees with what they do, but my head can comprehend how they act the way they do. If they really think what they do is helpful, then they are living authentically. They truly believe that they have the right message and that it is their duty, through picketing and preaching, to spread the message that gay people are the reason the world is going to the dogs.
I’m not buying it. Hate never got anything worthwhile accomplished.
What rainbow destination should we head to next? 🙂