People sometimes think nothing exciting happens on Tuesday because it’s a work day, class is in session, and Tuesday is definitely not Friday. But this particular Tuesday, October 4th, was different; it was the day Westboro Baptist Church visited IUPUI. Below is my recounting from this experience.
The crowd is quickly building up in Taylor Courtyard as students, faculty, and staff are looking in all directions, waiting to see what happens. Phones are all out with Snapchat and Facebook Live ready to be recorded. You see some people wearing rainbow flags as capes. There is a blonde-haired girl who is painting rainbows on the faces of students.
Then the doors from Taylor Hall open and out walk student members of the LGBTQ Student Alliance, followed by staff from the IUPUI LGBTQ+ Center, and other IUPUI staff and faculty members. They are all carrying signs promoting equality, acceptance, and understanding.
The staff members create a line in front of the gates, separating the protesters from the general public. They encourage students to ignore the protesters, to not give them the attention they are seeking, to instead enjoy the dance party atmosphere the Multicultural Center and LGBTQ+ Center staff have put on.
That’s exactly what we students did that day; we danced! We danced to a variety of tunes like Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’, and The Weather Girls ‘It’s Raining Men’, as a form of counter protesting the Westboro Baptist Church. Their hateful rhetoric and offensive poster signs had no place on our campus.
The IUPUI school spirit was at an all-time high that day. No arguments, causalities or violence broke out between Westboro Baptist Church members or the public. Once the protestors realized they were not going to get much of a reaction out of us, they left 20 minutes after arriving.
As a student at IUPUI and someone who identifies as gay, my heart was filled with joy. I saw the support of my fraternity brothers and other Greek men on campus at the counter protest. They did not have to be there, had nothing to gain from attending, but they still came and showed support. Seeing the students, faculty, and staff unite to spread love against hatred has been the highlight of my semester.
What was left on Taylor Courtyard that day was pride. Pride in campus unity. Pride in knowing that IUPUI staff and faculty supported their students. On Tuesday, October 4th, I took pride in being a Jaguar of IUPUI.
Efrain Alvarado is a senior at IUPUI double majoring in Public Relations and Communication Studies. He works as a Paraprofessional within the IUPUI Office of Campus Visits and holds an internship with the Tau Kappa Epsilon Educational Foundation. Efrain is also President of the Interfraternity Council at IUPUI.