Tonight, I was reading back over some of the Bilerico articles when I came across Bil's article about the kids at North Central putting on "The Laramie Project" and the intentions of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church to picket North Central High School. Since Alex and I are "social" bloggers, I thought it would be interesting to provide our experience that day, even though the humor wasn't received well by all.
As you may know by now, we are not typical in our tactics and usually do not engage in anything political. It's just not our thing. But the day that Fred Phelps was coming to town, I was with our 18 year old, youth correspondent, Hilary, when Alex called and told me I should drive over to North Central and find out what was going on. "Since he's a celebrity, we should give him the same invitation we would give any other celebrity visiting this town. Invite him out for drinks tonight."
So, Hilary and I drove over to North Central, and I watched as friends stood in the rain, protesting the protesting. We did not see Fred Phelps. We did not see tons and tons of protesters, at least not from Westboro. We saw a man, woman and child standing quietly holding up anti-Jewish signs on the other side of the street from North Central High School. We were confused why they would hold up specific anti semitic signs when the play was about a young man who was murdered for being gay? It made no sense and it was pathetic. But we continued.
I knew the police would never let me talk to the people of Westboro, so Hilary, with boys of raannt business card in hand, walked through the police and up to the woman handing her our card, explaining that Alex and I would like to invite them, graciously, out for drinks and sushi.
Now, by now, I hope everyone reading understands this was in great humor, and maybe in poor taste, but I really don't think so. Our intention was to take a different tactic, not give poor Mr. Phelps what he wanted which was all of this attention. Protesting and rallying has it's place, but we stand for being original and trying new directions without fear. Humor is the great qualifier.
The woman wouldn't take the business card from Hilary. She wouldn't even look or speak to her, so Hilary placed it on the ground at her feet. But as we drove away, we watched her reading the card, turning it over in her hand, unafraid to touch it. Hell, we could have rolled around naked all over that card the night before. But we didn't. Because, we have a little bit of class. Well, at least a little bit more than a cowboy, carrying a "God Hates Fags" sign, with a plastic rain poncho as a fashion statement.
No, sometimes, as Ghandi said, you have to "be the change you seek". And as Indy's gracious hosts, we were a little sad old Fred didn't take us up on those martini's and sushi. It all started as a joke to minimize the power many people were giving him that day, but we would have gone. It would have made for a great story. And sometimes, just sometimes, it takes a different tactic, to make a difference. Sometimes, you have to take a risk and be different.
Look what happened when a local high school put on a performance about a young man killed for being gay. Now that...was courageous!
Eyes Open...We're Watching!