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Westboro Baptist Church No Show was a Win for Love

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Over one-hundred followers of the organization “Love is Love Movement” formed a line on the sidewalk in front of Granite Bay High School. Framing as a “counter-presence” by local organizers began last Thursday evening. The only problem was there was no one to counter.

For several weeks the hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, indicated on their Twitter page they would protest the opening night of Granite Bay High School Drama Department’s production of “The Laramie Project”. There was no indication on the bigoted organization’s web site though that it was a for sure thing and indeed they were a no-show.

Granite Bay High School (GBHS) students reported that there was one guy who stood on the opposite side of the street earlier in the day as school was letting out with signs that said “God Hates Fags” and “Man’s Job: Obey God”.

An activist who has followed the family, who has a long history of picketing soldiers funerals, gay pride festivals and productions such as “The Laramie Project” across the US, said he did not think the lone picketer was from Westboro, rather he believes he is a “local Westboro supporter who has been seen at other local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) events”.

Later at opening night, several news trucks and LGBTQ activists and supporters began to amass in front of the school just in time for the six-o’clock news. The vast amount of people gathering were college and high school aged students including several GBHS athletes just getting out of Rugby practice. Taking advantage of the LGBTQ supportive crowd was the GBHS Gay-Straight Alliance Club members who were out selling rainbow wrist bands to the crowd to raise funds for their club.

Most of the students said they were “excited and amazed” at the turnout to support their school and drama club.

Love is Love co-founders Beverly Kearney and Jovi Radtke were joined by representatives from various organizations including American River College Fierce LGBT club, B.R.A.V.E. Society (a local bullying-awareness non-profit), Sacramento LGBT Center, A Church for Everyone, Gender Health Center, and others in helping to get the word out about the event.

“Really this event is more about supporting the students in their brave efforts in putting on such a potentially controversial play in the heart of such a conservative community then it is about the Westboro hate group. ‘The Laramie Project’ is about a town that has had to do some soul-searching concerning their own beliefs about gay and lesbian people and that is what the students wish to do right here in their own backyard,” stated Kearney.

Because of the attention the production received, seats for the play about Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, who was kidnapped in October of 1998 and severely beaten, left to die and tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, were selling out fast.

Kyle Holmes, GBHS Drama Teacher, said if it looked like the second weekend ends up being as sold-out as the first weekend he would consider extending performances.

As of this writing all seats for the weekend of February 6, 7 and 8 are completely sold out. Today Holmes stated there are three more added showings because of the high demand for seats. Wednesday, February 5 there will be a show at 7:30 pm and Thursday and Friday, February 6 and 7 will be matinée performances at 3:30 pm. You can purchase your tickets at Brown Paper Tickets as long as seats last.

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