Westboro Baptist Church Gets Some Surprising New Neighbors
Aaron Jackson has become an unlikely hero in the fight for LGBT equality — simply by purchasing a house.
As it turns out, the house in question is located just across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, one of the nation's most vehement anti-gay hate groups. And Jackson didn't just buy it: he painted it in rainbow colors and is turning it into a resource center for his nonprofit's LGBT equality and anti-bullying initiatives.
"We want this house to be a message that where there's hate, there's also love. But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist," he said. "Beyond the symbolic message of the home, [the house] will be utilized by volunteers to live here, and these volunteers will work on promoting equality anywhere in the world and managing these anti-bullying initiatives that we plan on creating."
Jackson stumbled upon the opportunity to purchase the house completely by accident. He had only recently discovered the church and decided to view it on Google Maps. When he clicked on "street view," he saw a For Sale sign in front of the house across the street.
"It hit me right away," Jackson said. "Huh. That would be interesting to own a house across from the Westboro Baptist Church and turn it into something." And then, within five seconds: "And I'll paint it the color of the pride flag. Perfect."
As he looked across the street from his freshly-rainbowed estate at the headquarters of the active hate group, he had little to say.
"The view is what I bought the home for," Jackson said.
The Planting Peace website promotes the house as "a symbol of equality, peace, and positive change" and "a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all."
In this unique, permanent protest of a group that itself protests events from military funerals to Obama's inauguration, the nonprofit hopes to not only achieve its own goals within the LGBT community, but perhaps step closer to bringing about the demise of the WBC as well.
Jackson is convinced that his purchase will help turn media coverage away from the church and toward the positive message that Planting Peace will deliver.
"This is how we plan on playing it," he said. "Use their energy, and let's turn it into something incredibly positive for the LGBT community."