I've been hesitant to post this, because they certainly don't need any press: The lovely folks at Westboro "God Hates Fags" Baptist Church will be in town on Monday, picketing at that homo-loving institution, PSU. They'll also hit Silverton to protest the recently-elected transgendered mayor, Stu Rasmussen. (Here's a fascinating video of Phelps explaining the "profound theological statement" behind the slogan God Hates Fags.)

There are a few counter protests planned. I'm glad to see that they all understand how to interact with Westboro--which is to say, none of them will give Rev. Phelps and his crew the pleasure of interacting with his protesters (i.e., don't feed the trolls).

Here's what is going down:

From PSU's Queer Resource Center -

We are so excited that there is so much interest in this rally!! We just REALLY REALLY REALLY want to emphasize that we want everyone to be totally non-violent and positive when we make our signs and attend the rally. The God Hates Fags group makes their money by intentionally getting people all fired up in the hopes that someone will either attack them or impede their right to free speech, so they can then sue the university. Please don't give them that chance!!!!

The PSU Queer Resource Center honors Freedom of Speech--the concept of being able to speak freely without censorship. We also recognize that the Westboro Baptist Church and their message of "God Hates Fags" may be disturbing and evoke an emotional response. Freedom of speech allows us to engage in a dialogue about sexual and gender identity, and the QRC strongly encourages PSU students to do so.

We will be hosting a SEPERATE rally at SW 12th and Market St. (note: this is a different location than previously stated) Our message is one of LOVE and SUPPORT for the Queer Community. There will be resources about how to advocate for the rights of sexual and gender minorities, listening tables for people who need to talk about their reaction to the protest, and opportunities to connect with other individuals who are saddened by the mission and values of the Westboro Baptist Church. We will also be accepting donations on behalf of SMYRC, Portland’s Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center.

People are invited to congregate at the PSU Queer Resource Center (in room 401 of the Smith Building at 1825 SW Broadway) starting at 7am on Monday, and at 7:15 we will walk down to the site together.

Again, we highly encourage students to not fuel the negativity of the Westboro Baptist Church by engaging in their protest. There are more constructive ways to combat homophobia in our society. If you have more questions about how to get involved, please contact the PSU Queer Resource Center at 503-725-9742 or qrc@pdx.edu.

Two more options after the cut, including funneling money to Outside In, and a "pansexual love-in."

Check Blogtown on Monday morning for a report from PSU.

Rather than fighting this group with hate, we would like to fight them by raising money for Outside In.

You can see the services that Outside In provides to homeless youth, with lots of services for queer/trans youth, by visiting (www.outsidein.org). We are asking our local businesses and any individuals interested in participating, to donate any amount of money from $.05 and up, for each minute that Westboro Baptist Church protests in our community (with a minimum donation of $10.) The church is scheduled to protest from 7:30am to 10:00am at various locations.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me at cryangage@yahoo.com. We will contact you after Monday the 24th to let you know how long the Westboro Baptist Church protested and how best to send in your contribution to Outside In.

Let's pull together and show this group that hate will not tear our community apart!

Ryan Gage

p.s. We are thrilled about you considering a personal donation but, we also strongly encourage you to pass this letter on to friends or to solicit your workplace or businesses that you support. Thanks!

And this love-in was a suggested sent out yesterday, but it's unclear if it's actually been organized:

Dear QRC and others concerned,

Of course the Phelps clan is detestable, but it's clear that counter-protesting is exactly what they want. They obviously thrive on this sort of conflict; that is why they carefully list each protest in advance on their calendar. What would they do if no one ever bothered to show up for their ridiculous little performances? I'd love for them to be greeted by nothing but tumbleweeds and the whistling wind.

I really hate to see them given any attention whatsoever, but I understand the desire to do something about them. So if you feel that you absolutely must give them some kind of attention, I'd like to suggest an alternate protest that would make a strong statement while not giving them the kind of response they so desperately crave: I propose a pansexual love-in, well across town from wherever they may be. Donations could be collected at the event to support the QRC or another deserving organization.

These nutjobs do not deserve the serious consideration and media attention they attract. I can think of no better way to show our disregard than to do something fun and decadent while raising money to help the people they most want to harm.

I will personally offer my time to make this happen for Westboro's visit on Monday, as well as any subsequent visits to Portland they may make. I am quite serious about this and would like to hear from anyone who will assist me in organizing, offer ideas or legal advice, organize a similar event in their area, or attend the Portland event. Please forward/post this message and the following contact information to appropriate locations.

Yours most sincerely,
Lisa Brandt Heckman