Does God Hate Fags? Find Out March 28.

I am not Mexican. I can only imagine how Mexicans felt when Donald Trump called them “killers and rapists.”

I am not Muslim. So I can only imagine how members of that religion felt when Trump said “they’re not coming to this country if I’m president.”

I am not disabled. I can only imagine, then, how anyone with a disability felt when the Republican front-runner mocked a journalist born with deformed hands.

But I am gay. So I do not have to imagine what it is like for someone to call me a “fag,” spit in my face, and say that God sent 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and many other disasters to America because of me.

"Reverend" Fred Phelps, and some of his signs.

“Reverend” Fred Phelps, and some of his signs.

Even though “Reverend” Phelps was batshit crazy — and is probably right now burning in the same hell he roared I’m headed for — it’s pretty scary to know that someone, somewhere, despised a group of people so much he spent his life spewing vile garbage about them.

About me.

He was not alone. He had an entire “church” — well, mostly relatives he’d brainwashed — behind him.

But some of those church members began to think for themselves.

“Rev.” Fred Phelps’ granddaughters Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper questioned the Westboro Baptist “Church”‘s vitriolic protests against gays (and Jews, members of the military, and so many other groups). Eventually, they fled.

And on Monday, March 28 (7 p.m.) they’ll be at the Westport Country Playhouse, giving an inspiring talk about their journey from hatred to love.

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper

The event is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. The moderator is ADL national director of civil rights Deborah Lauter.

She was a frequent target of Megan — and the rest of the “church” — on social media. The sisters will discuss what it was like to love their family, but be raised in such a hate-filled environment.

Yet it was social media — specifically, Megan’s engagement with an unlikely source on Twitter — that opened their eyes to broader perspectives. Today, they’re active allies in the war on hate.

“God Hates Fags” has special meaning for me.

ADL logoBut so does “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” “Your Pastor is a Whore.” And any other sign that Fred Phelps and his clan — including, not long ago, his granddaughters — hoisted.

Those signs should have special meaning for all of us. Singling one group out demeans everyone.

That’s why I am sure every seat will be filled on March 28, at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Our town — and our country — are better than the hateful rhetoric we hear too much these days.

We are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Under — or without — any god you like.

(For tickets to the March 28 event, click here. For a fascinating, in-depth New Yorker story on Megan Phelps-Roper, click here.)

23 responses to “Does God Hate Fags? Find Out March 28.

  1. An important posting, Dan; thanks for the heads up on the talk. I hope it is, as the piece suggests, well attended.

  2. thanks, dan. at this time in our current political situation, we need more posts like this. i want to take this opportunity to thank you for your diligent work. i’ve been enjoying reading your posts over here in switzerland.

  3. Charles Taylor

    Wonderful article on reason and diversity in our society. You are a shining light Dan. Keep your lamp lit! A beacon to many on a daily basis.

  4. Jill Turner Odice

    This is very good news! I remember when Fred Phelps came to Provincetown with his hateful signs and protests. The whole town decided the way to deal with him was to ignore him! They stood on the corner across from Town Hall with their awful signs saying “Walt Disney was a Fag”, AIDS was God’s way of getting rid of Fags”, etc. I know they figured Provincetown being “The Gay Mecca of the East” made it a prime place to spew their crap, but we showed them how much better we were, by not rising to the bait. I am sure they left town very disappointed not to have made the scene they so desperately wanted.
    I have to say, I was not too sad when he passed away, and am happy to hear about how these 2 have changed their tune!

  5. While I applaud decision of the Phelps granddaughters to denounce their past family activities, I think putting them on stage for theatrical performances is a little creepy – implying they are making a career thanks to their family’s infamous past.

  6. Excellent article, Dan. And your personal experience made it even more poignant. ~ Kristan Hamlin

  7. “Fag” is such a heinous word – I even hate looking at it in print — akin to some other name calling horrors that come to my mind which I will not give air to anywhere. The old saying “sticks and stones….” I call bs on that one. Words and name calling can crush. Each of us deserves honor, dignity, respect, privacy and that word “fag” really causes ripples of deep hurt and anger inside of me as do ugly labels used for women, ethnic groups, etc which I need not spell out here. I’m a woman and am deeply saddened and offended by the word.

  8. Marjorie Almansi

    As an avid reader and huge fan of 06880, we are forever grateful to have you, Dan, as a leader in our community. We applaud your fortitude and insightfulness. We need, more than ever, to be open, kind, respectful and loving to one another. Period. It is a welcome sigh of relief to hear your open words and open heart. Thank you.

  9. Peter Gambaccini

    Excellent article, Dan. I never saw any evidence that the Westboro Baptist Church had more than eight people, and with Fred dead (don’t rest in peace) and these two ladies defecting, I guess that brings it down to five.

  10. A. David Wunsch

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/23/conversion-via-twitter-westboro-baptist-church-megan-phelps-roper

    Dan: The above is a link to a fine article in the New Yorker, about the Phelps family, which might interest your readers.

    ADW Staples 1956

    • Thanks, David! That’s the same article that I linked to in the italics at the end of my story (above). I guess people kind of skip over the parentheses. I appreciate you posting it!

      • A.David Wunsch

        Dan: I feel like a doofus for not noticing your link .

        Sister Sarah and nephew Jake are gay so I have more than a casual interest in this subject. d

  11. Adam Schwartz '75

    I’m on the West Coast and would be very interested in being there for this. Maybe someone who is going can Periscope this event live? If you can or willing to try, please post here to let everyone know.

  12. GARDINER KENDALL

    I saw this on FB

    An Open Letter to Donald Trump:

    Mr. Trump,

    I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates. I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election. I thought: ‘Maybe the timing is not right.’ But I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now. Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.

    I’ve watched you retweet racist images. I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on your behalf. I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families. I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to ‘snakes,’ and claim that ‘Islam hates us.’

    I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I have conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries. And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.

    Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself. You are not a ‘unifier.’ You are not ‘presidential.’ You are not a ‘victim’ of the very anger that you’ve joyfully enflamed for months. You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power. And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.

    Sincerely,
    Brandon Stanton

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Waiting for the “Ides of March” polls to close, fascinated by the crucifix necklace that a Trump supporter pundit wears, wondering why.

      Anyway, on a similar level this post reminds me of Canada’s notorious Winston Blackmore and your own Warren Jeffs, and the (few) children who have had the mind and courage to question their “fathers” (and “mothers”), and left. Hardly easy to do.

      It is surprising and alarming that the mother of these two young women is a lawyer.

  13. Dan: You know this has my support. Keep working on it!
    Alberta Cifolelli

  14. We all need to speak out when we encounter hateful people saying dumb things in our every day lives, not just go to rallies where they’re preaching to the choir. What’s that great quote — Hillel?– that I think ends …”and no one was left to speak for me.”

  15. …found it: Martin Niemöller – Wikiquote.webarchive

  16. The only things that frightens me more than the vile calculated maliciousness of The Donald’s campaign for the Presidency of the United States of America are the TV images of all the people who are eating at his trough, cheering at his rallies and voting for him!!

    I guess pre WW II Germany didn’t have a monopoly on this kind of evil supidity- a truly bad leader and a horde of terrible followers!

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Today this becomes a reality. No longer a joke.
      Mr. Stanton’s last sentence above is telling. Yet, the two women highlighted in this post have managed to “change their spots”. Can Trump?

      Maybe he should be sitting in the front row on the 28th.
      Maybe he should sit next to a Transgender person for that matter.

      It’s all so exhausting. It all makes me cry.

      Thanks Dan, for your honesty, for this post.