WTF’s “Straight To Equality” 2013 tour banner for the Thurs (6/27) and Fri (6/28) broadcasts on

A quick look back at the two days spent at Equality House in Topeka KS during TalkSTL‘s “Straight To Equality” 2013 tour, these are a few of the things I took away from the experience.

– I cannot say enough positive things about the individuals within Equality House. I spoke the most with Davis Hammet and Aaron Jackson, but everyone there is so pleasant and easy to talk to. The amount of information that they shared with us about their various missions was mind-blowing, and it opens your eyes to the fact that while the house itself is painted in the PRIDE colors, there is so much more that they work with than just LGBTQ issues.

– Until you’re actually there, you really have no idea exactly how close the Equality House and the Westboro Baptist Church really are to each other. Only a narrow street separates the two, and the church extends almost all the way out to the sidewalk.

– Sitting on the lawn with everyone and listening to the audio of the interview with WBC spokesman Steve Drain was pretty intense at times. Based on the few clips of video from the interview, it should be a very interesting watch when everything is said and done.

– In the time that we were there, it was impressive to see the number of people who stopped by to visit the Equality House, take pictures, and speak with Davis and Aaron. Some came from across town, some from across the country, and there was a family in from South America who made a point of seeing the house.

– In addition to those who parked and came onto the property to visit, the sheer number of people who honked and waved as they passed by along 12th Street was amazing.

– Prior to the broadcasts, I/we wondered to what degree, if any, Westboro Baptist Church would make their presence known. Sadly, the most extreme interaction we had with them was seeing Shirley Phelps-Roper and one of the kids fire up the lawn mowers and mow the same two stretches of grass over and over to try and make enough noise to interfere with the radio broadcast.

– Say what you will about WBC, but their property is pretty sweet. They have their own pool (although not visible at all from the street), and their own tennis and basketball court setups. For having that on-property, you’d think the kids would be pretty good at their basketball skills. Based on their time on the court Thursday afternoon, I assure you they have plenty of room to grow. If I had my own court, you’d have to carry me off of it daily. I’m just saying.

– Talk is already underway between TalkSTL and Equality House for a return project in the autumn (yes, the guys from WTF were invited for a return trip). Godier joked with me about me being the show and station’s Kansas City intern, as my dedication to them and the use of social media to help spread the word of STE2013 didn’t go unnoticed. He, along with everyone else with the show, know that I’ll do everything I can to help them out when/how I can.

– The WTF crew have enough footage from the Topeka trip, including the 52 minute interview with Steve Drain, to where they’re in the process of putting together a mini-documentary. The trailer went up on TalkSTL’s Facebook page earlier this afternoon. I’ll have a follow-up on here when all is said and done.

In closing, thank you to Ron Godier, Wade Trent, Joe “Massive” Cochran, and Tony “Mule” Mueller for allowing me to be a part of their time in what they’ve described as the most fulfilling thing they’ve done with the show so far. Thank you to Aaron, Davis, and everyone with Equality House for being such incredible hosts for everyone. It was a pleasure and an honor to visit. And, in a weird way, thank you to WBC – without your closed-minded bigotry, none of this unity would have happened the way that it has.

With Aaron Jackson (left) and Davis Hammet (right), our backs turned to the hatred and closed-minded mentality that sits yards away across the street at Westboro Baptist Church

  1. silver price says:

    Jackson, who has described himself as a “screaming liberal,” has said, “I’ve wanted to do something, and I knew when I saw that house for sale that it all came together. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a little crazy and there’s no red tape in my charity. When I want to do something, I do it,” according to The Huffington Post.

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