Open Letter: Yes Queerty, The Phelps Sisters Do Deserve Gold Stickers

Credit:  Jewish Journal

Credit: Jewish Journal

In an article titled “Fred Phelps’ Granddaughters Would Like Gold Stickers For Leaving Westboro Baptist Church” the Queerty website, via the pen of their writer Graham Gremore, have taken an ugly and embarrassing adventure into the untamed jungle of heterophobia by launching a schoolyard attack against two ex-members of the  Westboro Baptist Church.

Yes, that’s the “God Hates Fags” people.

Homophobia, transphobia, and yes, even heterophobia come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s a special place in gay hell reserved for writers on LGBT websites who attack queers or our allies when they are down, simply because they can, and simply because they are acting like judge, jury, and executioner.

Let me explain everyone.

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper, former members of the Westboro Baptist Church, have been on what many would consider a “redemption tour” after breaking free from the only world they have ever known and speaking to the world about their experience of being born into, and raised in, one of the most notorious cults in the world.

Megan Phelps picketing the funeral of a dead soldier in 2010 (Photo Pickling In His Presence)

Megan Phelps picketing the funeral of a dead soldier in 2010 (Photo Pickling In His Presence)

In their time in the church, the two sisters took part in hundreds upon hundreds of protests at the funerals of dead soldiers holding signs like “God Hates Fags” and “Fags Die, God Laughs” in an attempt to save America from embracing the LGBT community.  They struck fear in the hearts of many people who crossed their paths, and they caused unspeakable pain to families grieving the loss of a fallen soldier, or a gay loved one, all in the name of God.

Their grandfather Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church helped raise Megan and Grace from the time they were born, and helped mold them into the perfect “servants of the lord”, equipped with the venom and vitriol that would become the brand that the church would become known for around the world.  They didn’t see what they did as hate, they saw what they did as God’s work.

Westboro Baptist Church member Gabriel Phelps-Roper, 10, and sister Grace Phelps-Roper, 13, protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder in 2006. (Associated Press)

Westboro Baptist Church member Gabriel Phelps-Roper, 10, and sister Grace Phelps-Roper, 13, protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder in 2006. (Associated Press)

That is of course, until they both came to the realization that what they were doing was wrong.  That what they had been taught since they were old enough to walk, was wrong.  That everything about the Westboro Baptist Church, was wrong.  So they packed what they could in secret, waited for the right moment, and fled the church – leaving behind the only world, friends and family they had ever known.

After their departure from the church, the sisters had many options in front of them as to where they would go from there, and in an act of what can only be called utter bravery, they chose to walk right up to the people they had attacked and tortured for years, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.

Says Graham Gremore of Queerty:

Until last November, Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper, granddaughters of Fred Phelps, were members of the Westboro Baptist Church. They would regularly wave signs that read “God Hates Fags,” picket solider’s funerals as well as protest outside of synagogues and other Jewish institutions shouting slogans about Jews burning in Hell.

Today, the sisters say they have left the church and would now like to be patted on the back for their courageous decision.

“We were both terrified after leaving,” Megan, 27, said in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail. “I was afraid we were going to hell. Many times when we were driving, I thought God was going to kill us.”

Megan and Grace say they began to question the church’s teachings four years ago, and finally decided to leave in November 2012. Breaking with their family, they hit the road for a driving tour across North America. Earlier this month they arrived in Montreal for a month-long stay where they have spoken at universities and will be attending Jewish cultural festivals. The trip isn’t costing them a dime and is being funded by members of the Jewish community.

Yes, I have highlighted two parts of that passage because they show not only the absurdity of Graham Gremore’s petty narrow-mindedness, but defrock him of any right to stand on the passive-agressive soap-box that he hastily built for himself.

Mr. Gremore claims that the sisters are asking to be patted on the back for their “courageous decision” and I couldn’t agree with him more on one point:  It was a damn courageous thing they did, and they should in fact be patted on the back for it.

Two girls, with little life experience outside of the cult they were raised in, with what can only be imagined as (my apologies for hypothesizing here) either a limited or skewed home education, and no real work experience other than sign decoration and loitering, take a leap of faith bigger than most any of us every will in our entire lives, and you don’t think that’s praise worthy?

And please Mr. Gremore, so that the whole world can see it in black and white, please cite for us the exact article or articles where you can quote the sisters saying “we deserve to be patted on the back.”  I think that all of us wold like to see the proof of that.  So please, whenever you’re ready we are.

Also, Mr. Gremore, given that Megan and Grace are incapable of producing a resumé longer than your compassion for them that doesn’t include such skills as “Hating Fags”, “Laughing At Dead Soldiers”, or “Invoking The Wrath Of God”, what would you have them do besides try to share their story and repair some of the damage they have done?

Would you prefer them to live on some street corner begging for change?  Would it satisfy your perverse hate-lust for them to see them make a “God Loves Phelps” porno?  Or maybe you’d just like to see them thrown into a prison cell and rot?  What these two young girls are doing is not only incredibly brave and powerful, but it’s the only thing they actually can do to survive after spending their entire lives in a cult.

We get it Mr. Gremore, as a web writer who either makes an abysmal per article fee, or worse yet, works on a pay per click sliding scale that is basically like making nothing, it’s articles like the one you wrote that bring in huge $15 payloads.  Hell, I write for my own site so I know exactly what you’re going through, but in this case I think most everyone agrees that you indeed ended up looking like a total fool with your article.

As a member of the LGBT community Mr. Gremore, you either know someone, or experienced for yourself what it’s like to have to give up your friends, your family, and even your whole world sometimes to be true to yourself and make a new life.  You also know from your own experience or through someone else’s that you hold near and dear that in making that huge choice there has been and will be those who will come to us asking for forgiveness for the way they treated us or made us feel.

Forgiveness is a huge part of what it means to be queer, and it makes us better and stronger people in the end.  Why are you so afraid or unable to give these two girls a second chance?  What’s in it for you to hold such a pubic grudge against them?

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper are at the beginning of a very scary and uncertain crossroads in their life, and are doing something that most of us will never have the opportunity or strength to do in our lives by asking the very same people who they minimized and derided for years to open their hearts, listen to their story and learn from their experience.

After so many years of signing petitions, speaking out, and demanding that these people change their ways, we would be absolute hypocrites to pull our hands away now at the very moment they are answering that call and reaching out to us.  We have a chance to show the world what a beautiful and gracious community we have built, and your narrow-minded rhetoric Mr. Gremore, is exactly what the world doesn’t need right now.

Megan and Grace, on behalf of the vast majority of the LGBT community who appreciates and applauds you for what you are doing, let me be the first in what I hope and know will be  long line of gay people to not only say congratulations, but realize that there is enough forgiveness in our hearts to give you the opportunity to make things right and teach the world about how we can all make it a better place.

You truly do deserve a gold sticker each.



5 thoughts on “Open Letter: Yes Queerty, The Phelps Sisters Do Deserve Gold Stickers

  1. Pingback: Open Letter: Yes Queerty, The Phelps Sisters Do Deserve Gold Stickers

  2. Thank you for this article. I now have somewhere else to surf and read. I applaud you for writing something in contrast to Graham. Something positive.


  3. Hey, thanks for this thoughtful response. Queerty’s articles on the subject have repeatedly crossed the line between patently offensive and incredibly stupid. Ironically, they probably aren’t even going to apologize — making them worse than the homophobic athletes they criticize.


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