22 Mar

I have spent a great deal of time travelling and visiting America over the last twenty years.  During that time I have met and encountered a great deal of interesting, acclaimed and at time infamous folks.

So it happened that in late April 2000 I came to encounter Fred Phelps.  I was in Washington D.C. for the Equality Rocks concert which was part of the Millennium March on Washington when an estimated one million people marched on the capital for LGBT rights.  Also some friends of ours were going to get married in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a mass protest and celebration of their unions and demanding the right to legally marry.

I had of course heard about Mr Phelps.  Having visited some parts of America that were not particularly gay friendly.  I was aware that there was a religious right wing element that were extremely vocal in it’s opposing of gay rights.  It was something that did not seem so prevalent in the UK and that Phelps was at the forefront of this. Phelps was the chief clown in the circus if you like. His Westboro Baptist Church followers, though small in number received an incredible amount of press attention.

Phelps and his cronies would turn up at any event they felt they could garner press attention for their extreme and repugnant views.  They would rock up at the concerts of gay performers, prom nights with openly gay students, school reunions where a gay celebrity was invited.  Phelps did not miss an opportunity to take his vitriol to all corners of the States.

So it was that April in 2000 that Phelps and his odd band of followers had turned up in Washington in full voice to protest the mass gay marriage/commitment services outside the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

As soon as I saw him.  I saw a man that was on the verge of madness.  His face was there but his eyes weren’t.  I actually couldn’t stop laughing because despite the ugliness of the words on their placards and the vile bile their mouths spewed.  If this was the worst we had to contend with I knew at that moment that the day was won and that gay rights and the right to marry and live as equals was all but sealed.

I could see that one of my friends who naturally was angry had started to argue with him.  But Phelps loved to be shouted at.  It fed the ego, it fed the madness.  We took her to one side it was just raising her blood pressure and Phelps could eat up this sort of aggression all day and all night he lived on hate.

Then suddenly I saw my partner Dawn approach him.  Dawn is known both for having both a quick temper and always winning an argument by finding the most outlandish thing to say.

I watched with amusement and fascination.  Phelps had two Action Man dolls in his hand or GI Joe dolls as they are known in America.  They had their trousers down and he was trying to simulate gay male sex with the two dolls and yelling at the same time about how homosexuals were all going to hell.

“Why are your two dolls bumming?” Dawn asked him.

“Homosexuality is the curse of the Devil he shrieked”

“Yeah but your dolls are bumming they must be gay, so are you gay and are your dolls going to hell?” She persevered.

He started to look confused.  Probably both at her accent and that she had perceived him as being gay.

“You want to stop doing that, everyone is going to think you are gay if you keep that up and look you seem to know what to do.  You look ridiculous and gay”

Phelps actually stopped “bumming” the dolls.

“Thanks for the laughs, let the dolls get some rest they look shagged out” Dawn said chuckling actually in his face then we both walked off convulsing with mirth.

We have never forgotten that ridiculous man with his sexually active dolls.  Why the hell media paid this fool so much attention is a mystery to me.  Possibly the ratings, the secret pleasure people get in this country from watching something like Benefits Street or somebody morbidly obese getting a gastric band.  Phelps was nothing more than a sideshow clown.  The ugly and demented face of hate.  The very embodiment of intolerance and bigotry.

So share this reminiscence with me.  When, if ever you do think of Phelps, don’t think of him as anything other than a man who stood around on a happy, sunny day and got his Action Man dolls to bum each other.



  1. southamptonoldlady November 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    What a horrible horrible man

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