Campus bands together against LGBT hate



Kent State students participate in a rally in favor of LGBTQ rights in Risman Plaza Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Students gathered in response to the Westboro Baptist Church’s threats to picket Kent State that had been circulating on Twitter earlier in the day.

Kara Taylor

Though the Westboro Baptist Church didn’t come to Kent State to protest, the campus community bonded together against LGBT hate.

“We’ve flipped the narrative, and we now spread a message of self-empowerment and hope,” the PRIDE! Kent Twitter account announced Wednesday night. “Love one another and fight together.”

PRIDE! Kent, along with the Kent State College Democrats and other concerned students, rallied Wednesday night in response to the Westboro Baptist Church threatening to picket Kent State about the suspension of wrestler Sam Wheeler for tweeting anti-gay remarks. With a flurry of social media attention about Westboro’s tweets, PRIDE! Kent still demonstrated on campus to champion their beliefs even though the church didn’t show.

“We obviously already got our message out to the world; we just want to remind people we are here and very proud of who we are,” said Joshua Trattner, a freshman musical theater major who participated in the rally that snaked through campus Wednesday night.

Trattner said he wanted to support the university and the decision it made in suspending Wheeler from the wrestling team.

“We just want to show we are the people he hurt,” he said.

The LGBT students vocalized their opinions about the discrimination their community had faced recently.

“We want to show [Westboro] that they are alone in their beliefs and that no one supports them, no one takes them seriously,” freshman psychology major Ryan McCarthy said.

During the rally, members of PRIDE! Kent and other participants stressed the practice of being peaceful and promoting love, not hate.

“I want to promote tolerance, and to love instead of hate,” McCarthy said. “I believe Westboro makes a mockery of the Christian religion, because [religion] is not about hate.”

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].