Fred Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church in 1967, passed away last night. You know what’s really fucking great? It doesn’t matter.
The death of Fred Phelps, and the life of Fred Phelps, is difficult to ignore. I’ve talked more about this man in the last few days than I talked about my high school boyfriend who cheated on me with a girl with WAY bigger boobs. (In retrospect, I don’t blame him.) One of the most hateful men, who was the catalyst for the picketing of countless funerals (most notably in my opinion Matthew Shepard) is gone from this realm and let’s hope he took with him all the hate he bottled up for decades. May he be buried in a coffin entirely constructed of “God hates fags” signs. May angry lesbian construction workers build that coffin. And may his children wake the fuck up.
To me, Phelps is more than a Huff Post headline. He represents the extreme views of a generation where being gay meant having a disease, or not getting a job, or not having a fulfilling life. I never came out to my grandparents. They are gone now, and you know what? I don’t regret my silence. Gay meant something different to them, and to many of their children, homosexuality was synonymous with dying of AIDS. Queer isn’t a bad word anymore, it’s a word that can be used to empower.
To CNN, and Fox News, and even NPR, the Westboro Baptist picketing announcements make even the 5 minute morning news recap I listen to on the way to class. Hate draws controversy (and viewers). But I believe that with Phelp’s passing, we have lost a symbol of hate that is so ridiculous, the loss must be celebrated. With all of this hate gone, maybe we as a community can stop hating. Maybe we can stop ignoring some of the letters in our acronym, and stop bitching about “all the added letters.” You’re right. LGBTQA is a long acronym… and it is only getting longer. You know why? Because we as a community (at least on paper) are becoming more inclusive. We are doing EXACTLY what people like Fred Phelps didn’t want. We are coming together, and stopping the hate. The L’s hate the Gs, the G’s hate the L’s, the L’s and the G’s don’t understand the T’s, and everyone hates the B’s. The poor bisexuals… they have SUCH a bad rep. Lesbians won’t date ’em because they don’t want to be left for a guy, and Cher help you if you are a DUDE who is bisexual. Coming out is damn near impossible with everyone telling you to pick a side.
So cheers… to the death of hate. Some piece of it, anyway. Let’s celebrate by being there for each other, as a community. After all, success is the best revenge.
Brooke Cartus is very sorry for being so serious. She will not be serious tomorrow night at her show at Bossy Grrl’s Pin-Up Joint in Columbus at 9:30pm. Please come. She promises she will make Ob-Gyn jokes and everything will be fine.