Is it possible that Fred Phelps could turn out to be the best thing to happen in the gay equality movement since “Queer Eye?”
As strange as it sounds, his latest shennanigans could have the unintended consequence of actually creating sympathy (or something close to it) for gays and lesbians in places where they are least accepted: Deep in the heart of the Red states.
Like the reverends Don Wildmon, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and many others, Rev. Fred Phelps makes his living off of homosexuality. He is a professional homophobe. (Pam Spaulding refers to him as the The Rotting CryptkeeperTM.)
Now Fred and his evil spawn have taken to crashing funerals for U.S. service members who were killed in Iraq. They hit some funerals in the Midwest earlier this year but last week, they descended on a small town in Tennessee, and the locals didn’t like it at all:
Smyrna came out in force to support [the family of S/Sgt. Asbury Fred Hawn II, 35, of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, a husband and father, who died in Iraq on Aug. 14]. Flags lined Lowry Street. Signs proclaiming both the love of God and the love of the people for Hawn’s family dotted the landscape. Passing motorist blared their horns and threw obscene gestures to the Westboro Baptist Church protesters.
“God only hates you!” one passing motorist yelled. Another car drove by shouting encouragement for the gay community.
One counter-protester said, “People like this are what’s wrong with America.” He carried a sign that read,”Don’t Follow the Ignorant.”
Being on the receiving end of virulent homophobic attacks must be a harsh new experience for folks in rural areas who (think they) have never met a gay person. It’s possible that the Phelpses’ outrageousness might personalize the gay experience to a small degree for some of these people who previously had an impersonal, objectified view of gays and lesbians – perhaps rendering them a notch or two more sympathetic for equal treatment.
If so, we’ll be the first to say: “Thank you, Rev. Rotting Cryptkeeper!”