There is a butt load of stuff going on this week, it’s one of the busiest in a while. One big thing happening is that the Westboro Baptist Church (sic) is coming to Olympia to get all up in our grill about the recent marriage equality law that was passed and signed. In honor of that, the well-known hate group is picketing at the Capitol (makes sense, that’s where the Legislature and Governor works), at the Auditor’s Office (to celebrate Referendum 74 qualifying for the ballot — the referendum on that marriage equality law) and, tomorrow morning bright and early, at Olympia High School (to protest the lies those students are being sold by us slimy sinning liberal minded adults and to show them an example of righteous adulthood).
Now, let’s not get into a huge debate/discussion about what their real motives are, because I’ve heard all the scam artist stories, that they just want to sue people, etc. And I don’t disagree, but for the moment that’s not the point. The big deal in all of this to me is not that they’re protesting progress for LGBTQ people and equality, it’s that they are invading my neighborhood. Olympia High is the one my daughter will be attending, it’s next door to the elementary school she attended and it’s an 8 minute walk from my house.
Not in my ‘hood, fuckers.
Since the middle of last week, the community has been rallying, organizing, spreading the word. Three distinct plans came out to deal with each of the three picketing locations. The students too control of their rally, community members came up with themes and plans for the other two. It was awe inspiring to see the community rise up to this challenge. Organizations I hadn’t heard from in years took a leadership role. People shared ideas, cautions, stories of previous encounters. Loads of encouragement, reminders to steer clear of the WBC and connections made across the community like a brand new neural net.
It started today. This afternoon, the WBC hatemongers picketed the State Capitol and were greeted by the Oly Love movement (loosely affiliated)/ I’ve seen pictures and comments from those who were there. Imagine a small clutch of sour-faced haters surrounded by happy, laughing, smiling people rallying around love and community.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading to the high school, riding my bike so I don’t have to deal with traffic issues and parking. That small clutch of hatemongers will be greeted by a highly motivated and organized group of high school students and hundreds of community supporters. I’m really proud of how the school has responded, especially in letting the students take the lead in how they wanted to respond to the WBC. They met, came up with a plan and communicated that plan to the community. They came up with a theme and a logo: an Oly blue heart, with the words ‘Oly Love’ inside, held up by many hands. Awesome, ‘Oly Love’… succinct, easy to remember, beautiful. A rally for love and unity, only secondarily against the hate mongers. I love it.
I’ll be there as a neighbor, parent and member of Pizza Klatch. There will be a lot of representation from other youth advocacy groups and other social justice organizations, plus neighbors, concerned citizens and other parents. And maybe some students from other high schools. It’s a little tight for them, as this protest/rally runs from 7:00 to 8:00 am, which is when school starts.
After that, the WBC travels across town to our Auditor’s office to praise the efforts of the Referendum 74 people for gathering enough signatures to get that on the ballot. Ref 74 is to confirm the marriage equality law signed earlier this year. After that appearance, they’re packing up and heading to Seattle to picket the funeral of a murder victim. Because that’s so Christian, right? If you want to know more, there’s plenty on Facebook and elsewhere as people track their movements.
I’ll be running tomorrow will a high-speed, marathon obstacle course: rally in the morning, then go to work, back out to lead my Pizza Klatch group, back to work and after work, a Pizza Klatch board meeting. Then home to fall into an exhausted heap.
The whole week feels like a crazy race, though. At the end of it, Pride weekend here in Olympia. And that will be a whole lot of fun.
Love and solidarity to all of you fighting the good fight in your communities. It’s not about the war as much as it is about these battles, these skirmishes where the community pulls together in amazing ways. That’s what gives us the faith to keep going.
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