The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles’ It Gets Better cast just spent a week in Lawrence Kansas. In comparison to the other cities on the tour, this city needs things to get better the most. Not only is it in the middle of a very rural, very red area, it is also 20 miles away from Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church (aka the “God hates fags” church). Now I have seen pictures of these faithful congregants picketing military funerals, concerts, and AIDS walks with signs reading, “Thank God for IEDs”, “God hates you ” and “Fags die, God laughs”. And along with the rest of the civilized world, I am of course disgusted. Weeks ago, when the cast first realized how close that church would be to our theatre, we haphazardly said things like, “I hope they show up”, “Bring it bitches” or even “I will make care packages for them”. Cut to Feb 15th when we get the following notice:
“WBC will picket the Gay Men’s Choir ‘It Gets Better’ performance at KU to remind these perverts that the God that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah yet reigns. These proud unrepentant sodomites that think they can change one iota of God’s word with blasphemous platitudes have a great sorrow in store for them. Actually it gets much worse...These tyrannical fags rule every aspect of doomed american life as a curse from God on this wicked nation”.
Now it was real. What I once thought would just be good publicity had now become a major anxiety. Understand that during the show, each actor breaks character, addresses the audience and shares his own personal bullying/coming out story. And my story is all about religion. And they knew it. I was told that there was a possibility that number of the 25 picketers could buy tickets to the show and then shout their bile during my monologue. I was of course worried about the prospect of this occurring, but so were the rest of my cast and other members of the GMCLA back in LA. One wonderful GMCLA member even sent an encouraging email that ended with, “Please Please Please take EXTRA good care of Drew”.
At the end of the day, the show went off without a hitch. The devoted deprecators marched with their signs and then they went home. I was even able address their presence during my monologue, which was followed by much applause from the audience. But the whole thing got me thinking: What was it inside me that made me nervous about of a bunch of crazies speaking words loudly? After traveling all over the country sharing with people that I am proud of and ok with who I am, how is it that these haters nearly had me in tears? Even more importantly, am I giving these jackasses more power just by writing about them? At the moment, I’m not really sure about any of that. But I am sure of this as anything: If I am being picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, I must be doing something right.