This piece is a continuation of “Happenings, Hearts and The Future – Part 1“.
Part 2 – The Westboro Baptist Church
Some of you may have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. They are a small Christian sect, located in Topeka Kansas and infamous for their extreme and intolerant ideology. For example, their official website is “GodHatesFags.com”. Not exactly my kind of people.
The Westboro folks are best known for their picketing of schools, synagogues, community centers, festivals and even funerals and – a couple years ago – they decided to set up shop outside of the Jewlicious Festival. My buddy David Abitbol engaged one of the granddaughters, Megan, in conversation and – long story made very short – as a result of the conversation, Megan and her sister left the church a few months ago and returned to the Jewlicious Festival last week as participants.
When I heard that I would be staying at the same house as Megan and Grace, I was honestly lukewarm about it. Why should we make a big hoopla over haters who “saw the light” and decided to embrace tolerance? My skeptical attitude lasted precisely two seconds until Megan and Grace picked me up at the airport, acted like their awesome selves and we began the start of a beautiful friendship.
Megan and Grace were sweet, kind, honest and… inspiring. Leaving their community was an act of conscience. Growing up, they were taught to be honest and true, and Megan especially could not stand to lead a double life espousing beliefs that she did not agree with in a seemingly hypocritical community that caused both hurt and harm.
But to leave your entire community, your family, everything you know for what you believe to be true? Megan is my age, much more sheltered than I, and I know that I would not have nor want the bravery and self-sacrifice to make her decision. The loss of Yair as my significant other this year was viscerally painful at times, but survivable. But to contemplate taking an action that would cause me to be excommunicated from my entire family and community? How anyone is that strong and could make such a choice, I do not know.
Grace, Megan and I spent time together throughout the weekend, I attended their presentation at Jewlicious (joking that I was going to picket it…) and Grace attended one of my campus Jewrotica programs for moral support (even though it was outside her comfort zone). A lovely and kind local family may be taking the girls under their wing this year as they enter this new world and contemplate their futures. I hope to see them again on my next trip out west.
Continued in Happenings, Hearts and The Future – Part 3 of 4...
posted by ayo