The Equality House celebrated its 2-year anniversary on March 21st with an open house and a big KISS!
The Equality House, which serves as a resource center for all Planting Peace human rights and bully prevention initiatives, is located in Topeka, KS directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay hate group. The first coat of paint was applied on March 19th, 2013 in response to the innumerable messages of hate and intolerance experienced by the LGBT community every day. We wished to offer some relief to LGBT youth and shed light in the midst of the shadows cast by the relentless slew of hate, hoping to provide a “light [that shines] down on the darkness in the form of exceptionally bright rainbow paint,” as Director of Operations, Davis Hammet, put it. The house has since put on a number of community inclusive events inviting people to come together to feel comfortable and accepted, including a same-sex wedding, an annual drag show and the Gay Olympics.
Although the house was originally painted the colors of the Pride flag to stand as a symbol for peace, compassion and positive change, the surrounding Topeka community and beyond have unquestionably evolved it into so much more. As a show of our enormous thanks and appreciation for our surrounding community that has exhibited a tremendous amount of love and support to help grow and expand our message since day one, we invited our entire extended community to come celebrate with us.
The day of celebration focused on the impact that the Equality House and its volunteers have made on the community locally and worldwide in the past two years. Activities included a community handprint mural, lawn games, and open house informational tours encompassing our Legacy Project installation, a series of memorial plaques commemorating the life and work of historical figures who made a substantial impact on the world, but whose LGBT status went unacknowledged. Visitors enjoyed homemade cookies and cake, Jayden’s pink lemonade and Billy Vanilly cupcakes.
The main event took place on the front lawn when we asked all walks of life to couple up and participate in a kiss in front of the Westboro Baptist Church to symbolize in a peaceful, compassionate way that love is love, and all love is equal. More than one hundred pairs of lips partook in celebrating their individuality and taking pride in all that they are, including a couple past members of the WBC. “Plant One For Peace” was a direct action to proclaim the intention of never being afraid to show acts of love, even in the face of bigotry.
A great, big thank you to all who showed up and participated in spreading love and acceptance that Saturday. Thank you to everyone who celebrated us from afar. Our birthday celebration was so powerfully enriched by the overwhelming love and support we continue to receive. We are never left with a shred of doubt that what we are doing is making an impact and creating a better future for all.
Thank you <3