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Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Via Facebook

Fortunately I’d heard about the impending WBC appearance at our high school (how dare we have a Gay/Straight Alliance the Westboro Baptist Church attests along with suggesting President Obama might be the Anti-Christ) before receiving the Facebook invite from my son’s girlfriend to attend “Sign-making Party for Civil Disobedience Against God Hates Fags.” At our house.

Apparently the latest response to Fred Phelps’ repugnant use of freedom of speech to announce that “God Hates Fags” is to counter-picket with statements like “I love unicorns” and “I have a sign” and “God hates ponies.” This seems odd to me. Random. Suggesting that his words are meaningless drivel instead of hate-speak that encourages acts of violence and can tip the scales when a queer youth is weighing his or her worth.

Not that the literally hundreds of students who are planning on showing up to counter-protest want anything of the kind. They’re pro-gay and OK. They want to show the WBC that what their signs spell out is ridiculous and false, to take away the power of the words. But those words still have a lot of power, no matter how diluted with silly signs they become, and I wonder how many in the crowd of kids will be stung by them.

What I love about both the sign-making invite, and the equally informative Facebook invite to the counter-protest, is the emphasis on “civil” disobedience. And the many comments support this agenda. The students don’t want to give the WBC any ammunition, but they also don’t want anti-gay propaganda to go unopposed at their own school. Bravo.

I’ve been oddly emotional about the whole thing since I heard the Phelps group was coming. I cherish our liberal bubble of a neighborhood. It feels like poison is coming to la-la land and I don’t like it. I wonder if the LGBT students and staff at the school feel the same way. This kind of stuff isn’t fun, it isn’t silly, it is toxic and an attack on individuals. It hurts people. Why on earth does a church think this is a good idea? To promote teen suicide? To justify gay-bashing? To destroy the self-esteem of queer and questioning youth?

I’ve had a so-called preacher follow our family down the street screaming “God hates this, God hates this, God hates this” so close his spittle hit my son. It was horrible. I don’t want a single student have that happen to them.

So let the sign-makers come on over. I’ll buy soda and chips. I might supply sticks and cardboard, paint and a staple gun. I want them to make tons of signs and carry them proudly. I’ll be the one in the corner making my own that say “Love Makes a Family” and “GLBTQ Youth Rock” and “Go GSA!” I’ll be one of a handful of grownups making up the throng outside the high school that morning. And if the WBC doesn’t show—this is not-uncommon apparently, after announcing an appearance—this will be a good end of year celebration for all the high school students, including the ones WBC would choose to damn. 


Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting,, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (