Members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, failed to show for the highly controversial anti-gay demonstration they said they had planned to hold at CU.
Supporters of the gay community waited Monday until 7:30 p.m. in the UMC courtyard in anticipation of counter protesting the WBC picketers. Students showed their support for the gay community by holding picket signs that read, “God hates hate” and “Phuck the Phelps” and handing out multi-colored flowers.
Hillary Montague-asp, a 19-year-old sophomore women’s studies major and an officer of Queer Initiative, said the flowers were a peace offering that the officers had planned on handing to the WBC picketers.
While waiting for the picketers to arrive, students voiced their opinions.
Mathew Sommers, a 21-year-old senior ecology and evolutionary biology major, said he was eager to see members of the Phelps family arrive on campus.
“I’m excited because [the Phelps] are known as the most hated family in the world, and I think it will be fascinating to see them,” Sommers said.
Spencer Watson, a 21-year-old senior MCD biology major and another officer for Queer Initiative, said those who came to the UMC Monday evening in support of the gay community demonstrated opposition to negativity.
“Fred Phelps thrives on hate and fear and all of the negativity in the world,” Watson said. “And people are coming here today, coming together to show how much they love each other, in the face of hate.”
According to the WBC Web site, the protest scheduled for Monday evening was intended to condemn same-sex marriage and the gay lifestyle in general.
“WBC engages in daily peaceful sidewalk demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth,” reads a quote from the Web site.
In the past, the WBC has received a lot of media attention for picketing at the funeral of hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, according to their Web site. They have also picketed at the funerals of fallen Marines, in protest of war.
In reaction to the picketers’ failure to show, gay rights supporters spoke up.
Denver Hager, a 19-year-old freshman biochemistry major, said their absence was a letdown but meaningful.
“I’m disappointed, but I think it speaks volumes about the strength of our movement,” Hager said.
Reverend Roger Wolsey of Wesley Fellowship, who was among those waiting at the UMC for the arrival of WBC members, said he came to campus to demonstrate his support for Boulder students as well as the gay community. Wolsey said the gathering of gay rights supporters was beautiful.
“A couple hundred people showed up in a beautiful movement of love, peace and kindness,” Wolsey said. “It was a victory.”
According to their Web site, the WBC plans on participating in future anti-gay demonstrations across the U.S. They have posted a schedule listing upcoming demonstrations and locations.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jennifer De Falco at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.