It’s the Westboro Baptist Church’s worst nightmare: A home-turned-gay rights center located right across the street from the controversial Topeka, Kan., house of worship. Recently, this intriguing scenario became a reality.
In addition to its mere presence, the building’s aesthetics are also likely to create a stir among Westboro faithful, as the house’s siding has been intentionally painted to resemble a rainbow — a symbol that has been synonymous with the gay rights movement for decades.
The home, located opposite the church, has become 31-year-old Aaron Jackson’s newest project, Gawker reports. The young do-gooder has transformed into a center intended to target the anti-gay sentiment that so often comes from Westboro’s congregants.
Jackson, founder of Planting Peace, helps fund orphanages abroad and engages in other charitable activities. Now, gay rights is his newest cause.
Here’s how the outlet describes Jackson’s decision to purchase the property.
Jackson was drawn to Topeka after reading about Josef Miles, the local boy who last year, at the age of nine, photobombed one of the Westboro protests with a handmade sign that read “God Hates No One.” Jackson had been looking for a way to support equality, anti-bullying programs, and some sort of pro-LGBT initiative, he said. [...]
So while considering the Westboro Baptist Church, he began dinking around on Google Maps late one night. He pulled up the church, at 3701 SW 12th St. in Topeka, and took a virtual walk around the block. In the front yard of a house across the street, he noticed a For Sale sign.
While the home he saw on Google was inevitably sold by the time he inquired, there was another property just two doors down. So, Jackson decided to buy the house and paint it to resemble the rainbow flag, something he knew would draw the ire of Westboro’s leaders and members, alike.
The home was $81,000, a large sum to pay to make a simple point, but he was determined. The Daily Mail notes that Jackson isn’t planning to live in the house, however he is hopeful that it can become a center for gay rights.
In addition to the intriguing paint job, he also plans to fly a massive rainbow flag on a 30-foot pole outside the home. He’s calling the center the “Equality House.”
Westboro’s Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of founder Fred Phelps, has already responded to the home’s presence. WDAF-TV reports that she’s taking a light-handed approach and quipping that she “loves it.”
“I love it,” she said of the structure. “What he does is he keeps the eyes of the whole earth on this message. Now everyday all people are thinking about is God will not have same sex marriage.”
As for Jackson, his intentions are clear, as his new project is intended to keep all eyes on his fascinating response to Westboro, while apparently also bringing the fight for gay rights to the church’s front door.
“The view is what I bought the home for,” he told Gawker.
Read more about this story here.
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