Last night, I went ahead and set my alarm for 5:30 and realized that I would really have to get up when it went off. Why? Because I was made aware that members of the Westboro Baptist Church would be traveling to Tenleytown to protest at Wilson High School, a school that I pass almost every day on my way to work in nearby Chevy Chase, and I wanted to show up in support of them in their loving counter-protest. So at 5:30 this morning I forced myself out of bed, showered and dressed, and headed to DC.
I had intended to wear one of my yellow "Standing On the Side of Love" t-shirts because the student organizers asked that people representing others groups and organizations wear identifiable (and hopefully colorful!) clothing, and also because it's become sort of a habit for us Unitarian Universalists to wear this uniform when demonstrating for a cause. However, my brain was not quite awake when I left the house, and I left the t-shirt at home. Oops. Once I finally arrived in Tenleytown I did indeed see some "love people", and I went over to them and introduced myself. I was happy to note that there were other people of different faiths present as well, witnessing to the reality that love really is greater and broader than the hate espoused by the WBC.
But the most amazing thing of all, and the most inspiring, and the most hopeful, is that this significant event was organized by and realized through the efforts of students at the high school. The high school version of me from the mid-90s could not possibly have imagined a world in which not only would it be possible to be out about my sexuality, but that I would have the support of my school, my neighborhood, and my broader community as a gay young man deserving of respect and of love. But this is the reality for the teenagers who attend Wilson High School (and their principal!), and for students in others schools with GSAs—including my alma mater, which I hear has begun a group in the past few years. When I recall the dark depressive moods I would endure, obsessed with thoughts of suicide but never willing to attempt it (thank God), my inner teenager weeps with joy for the possibilities available to high school students these days. That younger me didn't think I would ever make it past the age of 20, much less that I would grow into a happy, loved adult, and that I would be able to marry the love of my life legally. These kids don't have to wonder as much. For them, the possibility of future and present happiness is very real, and they know it. It truly is amazing how much the world has changed in this relatively short time.
And in the midst of all the chanting and the cheering and the general merry-making, there was one young lady with a simple sign that read "Christian values equal LOVE!" So simple. And so not the message of vitriolic hatefulness promoted by the Westboro Baptist Church. I'd choose the message of the students at Wilson over the WBC any day. These students get it. They can teach the world a thing or two.
|"Christian values equal Love!"|