Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Saga of the Rainbow Flag: A note about Fred Phelps & the REAL Kansas

By Diane Silver

To those reporters who were shocked (yes, shocked) that gay rights supporters outnumbered anti-gay protesters in tiny Meade, Kansas, this weekend, here's information you might find useful. The frothing-at-the-mouth anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church is always outnumbered...even in Kansas... even in small-town Kansas.

I felt compelled to post this after reading the following breathless headline at 365Gay.com: "Gay Supporters Outnumber Phelps Clan In Flag Protest." The story said:
If followers of anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps thought they were going to find support in tiny Meade, Kansas they were mistaken. The militant group demonstrated across the street Sunday from a small hotel that stirred up a local hornets nest when it displayed a rainbow flag.

About 30 of Phelp's followers, mostly relatives, held signs saying "God Hates Fags", and "AIDS is God's curse."

Not far away a crowd nearly double in size help up their own signs. "God Loves Fags" read one sign. "Go home" read another.
Given all the recent publicity and the stereotyping about Kansas as a backward, bigoted state, I suppose I can understand the tone of this report. And yes, given that Sunday in Meade was filled with protests and counter protests because of a controversy over a rainbow flag, one might be lead to believe that all Kansans are fools.

But the stereotype of Kansas isn't any more real than any other stereotype. Yup, there are certainly bigots out here. However, pretty much everyone in Kansas is thoroughly and utterly sick of Phelps and his minions.

They are almost always outnumbered, or ignored, when they protest in their home state. That's because even us backward Kansans can see the nastiness and destructiveness of the Phelps clan.

Some of us believe that Phelps has even helped the cause of fairness and basic decency for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Kansans. He certainly provides a clear example of the hatred we face. I have yet to find anyone except for some (but not all) of his family -- even out here on the blasted Plains -- who embraces Phelps.

What we need to do now is to move beyond Phelps. He is hurtful, but he is largely a joke. The real threat to equality for thousands of Kansans isn't an abusive fool and a handful of his children and grandchildren. The real threat is the nice person who would never think of hurting a soul who repeatedly and blindly votes for laws that destroy people's lives.

These real, nice people can do this because they don't understand the reality of our lives. They don't get it that they are actually hurting families and children by, for example, voting to ban same-sex marriage, civil unions and any other legal rights for lesbian and gay families.

Phelps is a sideshow and a joke. It's the nice people we need to worry about. The good news, though, is that the nice people are sane, yes, even in Kansas. They can be reached.

For more coverage of the events in Meade this weekend, see below and Saga of the Rainbow Flag: Westboro Baptist Church teaches Meade, Kansas, about "despicable"

No comments: