Of Fred Phelps, death and the grey

Fred Phelps is dead and countless people on Facebook and Twitter are celebrating the death of a man that has caused infinite pain to other human beings.
I get it. I do.

Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church harassed and disrupted the minds of many members of the LGBT community, not to mention allies, friends, families, veterans, etc. How many impressionable teenagers were forced to doubt who they are because of this man and the message he brought? How many young people attempted suicide because of his words? How many young people succeeded?

But I don’t celebrate his death.
I understand the anger among our community, but there is no joy in death. This is that grey area, that non-black and white moment where you feel conflicted and it’s okay to feel that way.

A friend of mine is living his last weeks in hospice care, battling a long fight with colon cancer. His sister has been blogging his fight with cancer. This week, she posted the most amazing thing –

As your time together draws to a close, remember that even though there is great sadness and difficulty in loss, you’re giving your loved one a great gift by accompanying him or her on such an important journey. 
Matt isn’t alone as he closes this chapter.
His loved ones are with him. We may be separated by miles, but there are many with him.

I can only imagine how alone Phelps was in his last moments. Intense loneliness. Confusion. Anger. Doubt.
This is a man who was not surrounded by love.

For the LGBT community and our allies, there is nothing here to celebrate. This is a time of mourning for the additional lives that were lost. This is a time of remembrance for all of us who have been impacted by Phelp’s legacy. This is a time of love and compassion for each other and the struggles we all endure.

When my time comes, I want to be surrounded by love.
Phelps, not experiencing love, is reaping his rewards.
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Of Fred Phelps, death and the grey

3 thoughts on “Of Fred Phelps, death and the grey

  1. Great post Jason.

    I don’t know that I would ever really be comfortable with ‘celebrating’ anyones death.
    It reminds me of when Osama Bin Laden was killed while I was in grad school at Ohio State, and students jumped into Mirror Lake chanting USA and with American flags. One of the student staff in the Union wrote about how wrong it felt to him to celebrate a death, and I think the vitriol that he received in response from fellow students was telling.

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