Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church must be seeing red – and blue, and yellow, and green, and violet.
This week, activists with Planting Peace, a progressive nonprofit group painted a small house at 1200 S.W. Orleans Street in Topeka, Kansas the bright, bold colors of the rainbow flag, which signifies gay pride and diversity.
The home is directly across the street from the series of homes owned by Westboro members and the church itself, known as the Westboro “compound.”
In a profile piece on Gawker, Planting Peace founder Aaron Jackson, 31, explained why he purchased the home — thought to cost around $80,000 — six months ago. “It hit me right away … 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,” he said.
“I feel the Westboro Baptist Church is the poster child… that’s pushing inequality,” Jackson told The Advocate. “So I thought the best place to start was to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s message.”
Jackson has been living in the house for the past month and a half. He told The Advocate he intends to turn it into The Equality House, a drop-in center that will support a variety of LGBT and anti-bullying programs – and to help its cause, Planting Peace has launched a CrowdRise page in the hope of raising $1 million to support its efforts.
On its’ website, the group states: “For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and radicalism. Often, protesting American soldiers’ funerals and organizations that support equality. This faction preaches extremism in our communities and directly targets our youth. To combat their messages of hate and to support equality and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and in our community, Planting Peace has established the Equality House in Topeka, KS.”
As of Wednesday morning, the group has raised more than $18,000.