At 6:55 a.m. Monday morning and the protesters were given a five-minute warning. The Westboro Baptist Church protesters will be arriving soon. Fifteen minutes later, Westboro has not showed up.
“They never showed up,” junior Amy Sweeney said. “They just keep getting free publicity because it’s not like the news stations are going to ignore it.”
With hundreds of people with signs saying “God is love, John 4:8,” “Where is the love?” and “Accept one another as Christ accepted you Romans 15:7,” the students who showed up at Fort Zumwalt East were ready to support the gay community.
“What we did wasn’t a ‘we hate you’ protest,” senior Patrick Earl said. “It was us questioning [Westboro] ‘Why can’t you accept us?’”
For Earl, his mission was to support his friends who were gay, but for junior James Pugh, it was more of a self battle. As an openly gay student, Pugh is one of the targets of the Westboro signs.
“Their messages are offensive, but I have to realize they are just trying to get attention and money,” Pugh said. “I really want to oppose their negative messages.
Although the messages Westboro sends out are offensive, Pugh has been made fun of by peers because of his sexual orientation.
“I hate the word ‘fag’ or ‘faggot;’ it’s so derogatory, and it hurts,” Pugh said. “Being persecuted for that is the worst feeling in the world. You can’t just change who you are.”
Although Pugh has faced a rough past, because of this protest, he has hope for the future of the gay community.
“The whole thing was amazing; I was so proud of our community,” Pugh said. “A lot of the people [who were supporting us] were straight and young. It gives me hope for an equal future.”
With such a controversial issue, some straight students can be afraid to stand up for gay rights due to the judgments that may be placed on them.
“There are so many more straight people than gay people,” Pugh said. “Only an ignorant person would think a straight person is gay for protesting. Stand up for what you believe in. If you can’t do that, what can you do?”
Sweeney, Earl and senior Jazmyn Burnitt-Erp are examples of students who stood up for gay rights even though they are straight.
“It’s no person’s right to tell anyone who they should love,” senior Burnitt-Erp said. “Everyone should have the right to love who they love.”
Most controversial issues about being gay is if it is a choice or not. Earl has strong views about it not being a choice.
“Sure, you could say it’s a choice,” Earl said. “If I choose to eat food, then I choose to love women everyday.”