Rebecca Juro

Freddy Phelps Is Comin' To Jersey

Filed By Rebecca Juro | November 16, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Politics
Tags: Fred Phelps, Laramie Project, New Jersey, protest

I mean literally, like practically in my own backyard.

This Saturday, North Brunswick Township High School, which I attended here in central New Jersey, will be presenting a performance of "The Laramie Project". The Westboro Baptist Church has announced they will be there to protest the performance. They won't be the only ones showing up though.north-brunswick.jpeg

When I attended NBTHS in the 70's, I wasn't ready to come out. Even if I had been, though, the social and cultural mores of the time made such a choice extremely dangerous in any number of ways. Despite that, I still dealt with plenty of bullying until I began fighting back and winning. It had nothing to do with being transgender per se (I had no real concept of such an identity or that it could apply to me at that point nor did anyone else), but it had everything to do with a society and culture that exacted a steep price for failing to conform, particularly in certain ways.

Needless to say, a lot has changed in the last thirty years or so. The NBTHS building still looks like a UFO that's just landed, but just about everything else has changed. When I attended, the student body was as white as driven snow with just one exception and the town itself was much the same. Now North Brunswick boasts a much more diverse population than it used to and that diversity is reflected in NBTHS's current student body. Coming out LGBT is no longer the terrifying prospect it once was here.

When news of WBC's impending visit hit locally, the strong negative reaction and decision to counter-protest didn't come from people like me. It came from my neighbors, solid, average, and yes, heterosexual North Brunswick residents who decided that there was no way these people and their bigotry would be allowed to spew unopposed in our town. From what I'm hearing, the counter-protest is growing organically as more people hear about it and it's expected to draw a significant crowd.

On a personal level, as someone who's called this town her home since the age of five, I can't wait for Saturday. Not because I want to get into it with Fred Phelps (though I do consider it a personal point of pride that he condemned me to Hell for being transgender on a call-in talk radio show several years ago), but because of this rare opportunity to really see how far my town has come on these issues since I was in high school. From all indications, it's going to be a really good day.

If you can make it, I'd love to meet you. Tickets to "The Laramie Project" will go on sale an hour before showtime.

Where: North Brunswick Township High School
98 Raider Road
North Brunswick, NJ 08902
When: Saturday, November 20th
WBC protest scheduled for 7:15-8:00pm

Any questions, directions, etc. drop me an email:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Angela Brightfeather | November 16, 2010 10:08 PM


Have you ever seen those movies where the hoard of barbarians are advancing on the palace walls and the ramparts are lined with archers looking down at them? On the signal of one person, they raise their bows and point their arrows in the air and let go of them all at once. A flight of shafts are pictured in the air as they travel to their marks and imbed themselves in the arms and torsoes of the enemy threat.

Now instead of arrows, envision rotten eggs taking the same trajectory to the Phelps family and hitting home against the barbarians.

I have always wanted to be the person who gave the command to send the eggs on their way towards those infidels. In the best tradition of the GLBTQ Community, there would be a contest for the best decorated, rotten egg, prior to the demonstration, to help raise funds for a worthy cause.

Actually, Angela, as emotionally satisfying as that would be, it's a bad idea. The Phelps clan supports itself by suing those who they draw into physical confrontations. The very last thing we want to do anything that could be seen as a physical assault.

That said, it's also true that the First Amendment protects the free speech of all Americans, not just hatemongers like Phelps.

I hope you have a good time being condemned to your face by the Phelps family. I would be surprised if Fred Phelps personally showed up to condemn you as I understand he is in his 80s. There were some of the church members that showed up after being invited to Western Michigan College by some professor to use as an example of free speech. I did not feel up to driving the 90 minutes or so to bother being condemned to my face so I guess I will have to wait to if they come back to this area. Given the mindset of many around where I live however, they might be confused for one of the local Baptist churches.

tobyhannabill | November 17, 2010 2:51 AM

WBC's planning on hitting us here in Pittston, PA today. I guess we must be on his way to NJ. His buddies hit our NEPA Pridefest each year in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
With help of the Lehigh Valley's Silent Witness PA we have learned to ignore these tools. And it has worked. They came late and left early this year.
They are coming to protest the funeral of a service member that was killed. Their game plan is to piss off enough people that someone throws them a beating so they can sue the township. Hopefully that will not happen.
It does bring our town together though. Members of the Catholic Colleges, a motorcycle group, and the local Pride Organization plan on attending to counter them peacefully and quietly.

We have chosen to remain quiet and dignified and just show up to support the Kridlo Family on their time of sorrow.

Peacefully yes, quietly, NO! Drown them out with loud TRULY Christian music on loud speakers!

Personally, I look forward to the day sicko Freddie dies. I will gladly spend the money to fly to Topeka and protest HIS funeral (then dance on his grave!). Join me, and give his family the same shit they have given so many.

I'll try, but the camera on my cellphone is crap so I'm not sure how good it'll be. However, I'm also going to be bringing my little portable digital audio recorder with me so if the video is crap I'll still hopefully be able to get some high-quality audio clips.

I live about 15 minutes south of school.

Let's see... what would be the best way to handle this? Ignore them in the hopes that nobody will notice them or to show up, en masse, with thousands of my fellow Blue Jerseyans, to present a solid wall of silent rebuttal to their biblically-fueled hatred?

tobyhannabill | November 17, 2010 9:36 AM

Showing up and forming a wall of silence works best with these types. We are gathering as I write this, here in PA, at the funeral of Dale Kridlo.

Our thoughts are with you...I wish Alanna and I could have been there with you today. Remember: "Our Silence Speaks Volumes".

Blaise Liffick
Director of Operations
Silent Witness Peacekeepers Alliance

Regan DuCasse | November 17, 2010 6:45 PM

Romaine Patterson devised the most creative and visually beautiful counter protest to the Phelps.

Being dressed as angels with big wings that obscure a view of the signs the Phelps carry.
It works great, looks great and is quite a comfort to the people that the Phelps target.

The Phelps could never complain about that. How could they complain about being greeted by a band of angels?

Sharon Van Nest | November 17, 2010 8:54 PM

A number of years ago they came to Ferndale Michigan to protest the police dept for having a clergyman who is LGBT knowledgeable. They came, minus Fred, and protested at various locations including several local churches. At each site and in particular the local Catholic Church counter protesters who were non LGBT picketed the picketers. At the same time monies were being donated to support a local anti-aids campaign. As a result more people in that town began to become aware of just how bad such bigotry was. Since then civil rights laws became fact and the town is now the most LGBT inclusive in SE Michigan. So in a weird way he made postive changes contrary to what he tried to do which of course was to spread more hate!

Do what everybody else does. Raise money for so GLBT organization for every minute Phred stays in the area.

What a lot of peeps are discovering is that when the Phelps Phamily realizes that every minute they protest is raising money for some GLBT organization, they cut their protest short.

They spent a little extra time in McAlester, OK after somebody slashed the front and rear passenger side tires on the Phelpsmobile