Kids with the moral fire and mischief of youth. Nothin’ like it.
The angel on the left is my daughter, Nora. The angel on the right is her friend Kelsey. The people behind them are – well, I’ll let you judge for yourself. I think not angels.
The backstory dates to October 1998, when Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming. When Fred Phelps, the notoriously hateful homophobic preacher, brought his bile to Laramie to protest at Matthew’s funeral, people were dumbfounded. When he returned to protest again at the trial of one of Matthew’s assailants, Romaine Patterson was ready:
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I decided someone needed to stand toe to toe with this guy and show the differences. And I think that at times like this when the world is talking about hatred as much as it is right now, that someone really needs to show the difference. So our idea is to dress up as angels. And so we’ve designed an angel outfit. Our wings are huge. They’re like big ass wings. And there’s gonna be like ten to twenty of us that are angels. And because of our big ass wings we’re gonna COM-PLETE-LY block him. So this big ass band of angels comes in. And we don’t say a fucking word. We are a group of people bringing forth a message of peace and love and hope. And we’re calling it Angel Action. Yeah, this twenty-one-year-old little lesbian’s ready to walk the line with him.
When Fred Phelps’ motley entourage came to Albuquerque, Nora and her friend made wings – big-ass wings.
The Phelpsites set up on one corner at the entrance to the University of New Mexico, and the counter-protesters set up on the other. And out of that crowd of counter-protesters emerged three angels, with these really big-ass wings.
They turned their back on the Phelpsies, and they raised their wings, and they just stood there.
After a few minutes, the cops, who were being pretty diligent about trying to keep the Phelpsoids and the counter-demonstrators apart, politely asked Angel Nora and her friends to take their big-ass wings back across the street. Which they did. They’re good kids. They made their point.
Justin, who played Matthew Shepard when the kids did The Laramie Project last fall, held one pair of wings for a while.
I found the sight incredibly moving.