House opposite homophobic hate group Westboro Baptist Church painted in defiant Pride flag colours
Right across the street from the homophobic and obnoxious Westboro Baptist Church is a defiant building known as the Equality House, painted in the kaleidoscopic colours of the Pride flag.
Aaron Jackson, the founder of Planting Peace, a non-profit that works to spread peace globally, purchased the house in October 2012.
The Westboro Baptist Church is based in Topeka, Kansas, and believes homosexuality is a sin. The Southern Poverty Law Center recognises the church as an anti-gay religious and extremist group. It describes the church as “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America”. The church’s website is hosted on the domain ‘GodHatesFags.com’.
Jackson and his colleague who lived in the house painted it with the colours of the rainbow Pride flag in 2013. Initially they planned to sell the house in a few months, but instead it became a powerful statement for Planting Peace’s values.
On their website, they now describe the house as “a symbol of compassion, peace and positive change”.
Dubbed the Equality House, it currently “serves as the resource centre for all Planting Peace human rights initiatives and stands as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all”.
While Planting Peace’s work focuses on various humanitarian and environmental issues, the Equality House and its newer neighbour, Transgender House, are a symbol for their LGBT+ advocacy.
Jackson told Huffington Post: “I thought it would be something we’d do to make a statement and be done with it three months later.
“I’m definitely humbled by it. People have absorbed it so well, it’s a peace of art that took on a life of its own. I like that it’s being seen, essentially, as public art.”
The house usually attracts around 150 visitors per day, many who take photos with the house and post them on social media. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that number dropped to around 20 to 40 visitors per day.
Jackson also said that the charity had taken a financial hit since speaking out for LGBT+ rights. One major donor to one of their orphanages in Haiti revoked his support when he found out about their LGBT+ work.
“We always say that when you don’t stand up to people like them, you’re ignoring their victims,” Jackson said. “There are LGBT youth who hear all these negative messages from the anti-gay movement and it’s important to me to show them a counter message: That they’re loved.”
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