Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Phelps Clan to Protest at Gay Fashion Designer’s Funeral: When Religion Turns Preposterous

Topeka, KS – Alexander McQueen, renowed gay fashion designer, died on February 11.  That same day, Fred Phelps, founder and chief screed-monger of Westboro Baptist Church, issued an announcement declaring that WBC would demonstrate at McQueen’s funeral “in religious protest and warning”  (see WBC web site graphic to the left).  Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was a genius in the fashion industry who was named British Designer of the Year four times, and most recently was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the rank of CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2003 in recognition of his lifetime achievement.  His obituary in The Times of London notes that he was formerly head designer at Givenchy and then moved into partnership with Gucci.  The shock value of his designs drew attention to his genius, and he counted Rihanna, Björk, and Lady Gaga among his more famous clients.  McQueen’s sexual orientation was no secret throughout the fashion world.  Phelps announced that his church was picketing McQueen’s funeral because he spent his life “teaching rebellion against God” and “committing crimes against God,” presumably by living openly as a talented, notable gay man.  Phelps also used the moment to slam Lady Gaga, calling her a “proud whore” who had “blood on her hands” for wearing McQueen’s creations.  Though Phelps and his independent Baptist Church are engaging in protected speech under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, their scramble for contributions and attention goes beyond innocence when they lambaste fallen U.S. servicemembers, synagogues and churches,LGBT people, and celebrity figures under the banner of freedom of expression/freedom of religion.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the effect of this brand of hate speech on the gullible and impressionable–when direct links between hate speech and violence can be established, the full force of law must be brought to bear in order to prevent harm and loss of life. The link between hateful speech and hate crimes continues to be hotly debated, but though Phelps may not be guilty of hate violence yet, he and his followers have made their brand of religion look silly.  Should anyone take him seriously?  Alexander McQueen may rest undisturbed by the rantings of the likes of Phelps.  If anything, Lady Gaga can bask a bit in the knowledge that she has made WBC’s “Anti-Christ List” along with so many other worthy people.  The King James Version of  the Book of James 3:11 reads: Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Phelps twists the goodness of religion turning it into a bitter hate-filled caricature that sours what it touches.  Exponents of Good religion, the Golden Rule/Great Commandment kind, must work overtime to repair the damage to faith communities that Christian jihadists like WBC do in the name of God.

February 14, 2010 Posted by | gay men, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kansas, Law and Order, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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