A few months ago family and friends celebrated as their loved ones graduated from K-State. Each year among the graduation festivities lurks a sobering tradition hosted by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas. WBC is known for going on tour and picketing at places where they know LGBT+ people will be in a public setting.
WBC show up at high school and college graduations and even at funerals of LGBT+ members who have passed away to display their zealous hate for people in the LGBT+ community. Their doctrines are derived from Calvinism and they sadly use their belief in God as an excuse for their hateful and oppressive behavior. Some of their signs held by men, women and children say,
- America is Doomed
- You're going to HELL
- God Hates You
- Repent or Perish
- God Hates Pride
- Fag Kats
We at Flint Hills Human Rights Projects also have a tradition--although ours is not as sobering. We show up an hour early to graduations each year to take up most of WBC picketing spot. Our presence is a bit different--we have signs that say, "Congrats Graduates!" or "Love is Love" with a rainbow flag waving in the wind as we pass out donuts and orange juice to the graduates and their loved ones on their way to commencement. A Police Officer annually stands close by to protect everyone and then leaves as soon as the WBC protesters are gone.
In Netflix Season 2 of Queer Eye addresses the conflict of when God or beliefs come between LGBT+ members and their families. Many parents don't know how they can accept God and their LGBT+ child at the same time. Although change is happening among families and communities, it can feel like it is happening at a very slow rate. If attending church in Manhattan, KS within an affirming and open congregation is your desire, please check out our resources.
And if you haven't heard it already today, know that you are enough.
Trans Ally Tip of The Day
Don’t let transphobia/cissexism slide. Confront it as you would confront all other forms of oppression. Trans issues are rarely discussed & when they are it is often in a negative light. Click on this link to learn some more ally tips.
About the Author
Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and an ally of the LGBTQIA community. Sarah has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. She strives to build inclusiveness in her church and community. She is originally from Arizona but calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. In her spare time she enjoys hosting book clubs with her husband, painting, hiking, researching family science or playing with play-doh with her strong little girl.