Equality House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Equality House
Equality House - Rainbow House Across Street from Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas (30224409157).jpg
General information
Town or cityTopeka, Kansas
CountryUnited States
Coordinates39°2′44.4″N 95°43′15.5″W / 39.045667°N 95.720972°W / 39.045667; -95.720972Coordinates: 39°2′44.4″N 95°43′15.5″W / 39.045667°N 95.720972°W / 39.045667; -95.720972
Named forLGBT equality
RenovatedMarch 2013
Cost$81,000
AffiliationPlanting Peace

The Equality House is a rainbow-colored house situated across the street from Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-LGBT hate group in Topeka, Kansas. The house was purchased by Aaron Jackson, the founder of nonprofit organization Planting Peace, after he saw a "for sale" sign on a nearby house when looking at the community on Google Earth.[1]

History[edit]

Through Planting Peace, Jackson purchased the house for $81,000.[2] In March 2013, a military veteran agreed to paint the house the colors of the rainbow flag in tribute to the gay pride flag, and it was dubbed the Equality House. It was reported that a representative of Westboro said she loved the paint job because it kept the eyes of the earth on the church's message. The house became a place for volunteers of Planting Peace to live.[2][3] In 2016, the house also became the organization's main office;[4] in September of 2018, the house ceased to be the headquarters and the interior is no longer open to visitors.[5] Visitors are still always welcome to take pictures on the property.

Equality House

Events[edit]

In June 2013, a five-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand selling "Pink Lemonade for Peace" outside the Equality House in order to oppose the church's message of hate by raising money for love and peace. Westboro members attempted to stop the event by calling the police and yelling profanities. Her $1 "suggested donation" raised $400 on site as well as an additional $1000 through an online campaign through the website CrowdRise. The money raised went to Planting Peace.[1] The campaign raised $30,000 by September 2014.[6]

Later that same month, a gay wedding was held on the lawn of the Equality House to mark the occasion of the ruling of two historic Supreme Court cases involving LGBT marriage. A lesbian couple from Alabama was married by an ordained Baptist minister who was executive director of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, in front of 100 people including well-wishers from the community. Most of the wedding expenses were covered by local businesses and community members.[7]

In October 2013, the organization staged its first drag show at its Equality House called "Drag Down Bigotry", a fundraiser for anti-bullying programs aimed to limit suicide among LGBT youth.[8] The house had its first open house in March 2014. To mark the anniversary of the occasion, Equality House held a day-long party including a tour of the facility featuring "Legacy Project," an exhibition with memorabilia and stories or contributions of the LGBT community. There was a group photo called "Plant one for Peace" featuring couples exchanging a kiss to express compassion.[9]

A staged "wedding" between wizards Gandalf and Dumbledore was held outside the house in June 2015.[10] The event was funded by a Crowdrise campaign after Westboro tweeted that they would picket if such a union was to take place.[11]

In October 2016, the Equality House was vandalized with homophobic slurs and seven bullet holes were found in the exterior. [12] The graffiti and bullet holes were kept in place, and visitors to the house are encouraged to write messages of love on the vandalized wall.[13]

Equality House is intended to stand as a visible symbol of love and has not taken part in community works since the wizard wedding in 2015.[14]

Mott House (Transgender House)[edit]

Mott House

Prior to 2016, the Equality House's rainbow exterior was painted over with the pink, white and blue colors of the transgender flag in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. When 8-year-old Avery Jackson (no relation to Aaron Jackson) visited the Equality House while it was painted with the transgender flag, she was inspired to raise money with Equality House to open a permanent Transgender House. The crowdfunding campaign raised almost $2,000 in three hours; the majority of funding was provided by Martin Dunn, President of the Dunn Development Corp, saying, "if I had a kid that was transgender I would want a place that would celebrate them and accept them. That’s just not available in this country and it should be."[15] Aaron Jackson, founder of Equality House said that the Transgender House intends to serve as an additional symbol of hope for the LGBT community.[16][17]

The Transgender House, next door to the Equality House, was painted and dedicated on June 26, 2016[18]; since the Equality House and Transgender House do not take part in community works, Jackson donated the use of the house to Capital City Equality Center in July 2017.[19] On March 8, 2019, it was renamed Mott House after the sudden death of Stephanie Mott, one of Kansas' most influential transgender activists.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cavan Sieczkowski (June 15, 2013). "Girl, 5, Collects Hundreds Of Dollars For Peace Selling Lemonade Outside Westboro Baptist Church". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-05-15. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Diana Reese (March 21, 2013). "Rainbow house fights Westboro Baptist with love". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Matt Pearce (March 20, 2013). "Westboro Baptist Church's new neighbor is a rainbow-painted house". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Contact - Planting Peace". www.plantingpeace.org. Archived from the original on 2018-06-25. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  5. ^ "Equality House | Transgender House - Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… Dear Equality..." equalityhouse.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  6. ^ Paul Lewis (September 23, 2014). "'We are always cordial': Westboro Baptists and 'Equality House' forge bizarre neighbourhood truce". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  7. ^ "Equality House Hosts Gay Wedding Across From Westboro Baptist Church". Huffington Post. June 23, 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-05-22. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  8. ^ James Nichols (October 28, 2013). "Equality House Hosts 'Drag Down Bigotry' Across From Westboro Baptist Church". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-05-18. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "Topeka's Equality House plans 'Plant One for Peace' group photo". The Topeka Capital-Journal. March 20, 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-08-10. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Jean Ann Esselink (June 4, 2015). "Gandalf and Dumbledore to Marry At Equality House This Sunday". The New Civil Rights Movement. Archived from the original on 2016-08-05. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Ciara Reid. "Dumbledore and Gandalf wed at Topeka's Equality House". Liberty Press. Archived from the original on 2016-09-21. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  12. ^ OEL GUTIERREZ-MORFIN (October 27, 2016). "Equality House Vandalized With Anti-Gay Graffiti, Bullet Holes". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  13. ^ Wong, Curtis M. (2016-12-14). "The Equality House Needs Your Help After Disgusting Homophobic Attack". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-04-04. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  14. ^ "Equality House". Planting Peace. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  15. ^ Hayes, Kaitlyn (2016-06-29). "8-year-old trans girl raises enough to build Transgender House opposite Westboro Baptist Church". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 2018-04-22.
  16. ^ Mary Emily O'Hara (March 30, 2016). "8-year-old girl helps nonprofit crowdfund 'Transgender House' across from Westboro Baptist Church". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  17. ^ Claire Warner (March 31, 2016). "'Transgender House' Crowdfunding Campaign Would Create A Permanent Celebration of Transgender Pride". Bustle. Archived from the original on 2016-05-05. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  18. ^ Nichols, James Michael (2016-06-27). "Westboro Members Now Live Next To House Painted Colors Of Transgender Flag". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  19. ^ "Equality House | Transgender House - We're so excited to announce that Capital City..." equalityhouse.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  20. ^ Hrenchir, Tim. "'Devastated': LGBTQ activist Stephanie Mott has died at 61". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 2019-04-04.