Who wants to move to Kansas? Now is the time to do it.
A government program called Choose Topeka will pay new residents up to $15,000, in the hopes of inspiring people to live in the city—a city that is most famous as the home of Westboro Baptist Church, the organization founded by “God Hates Fags” ringleader (and now deceased) Fred Phelps.
Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for picketing events like pride parades, theater performances with gay characters, and “drag queen story hour” events at public libraries, warning everyone present that they are going to hell for supporting a sinful lifestyle. After the U.S. government struck down the ban on openly gay soldiers serving in the military, Westboro began picketing funerals of soldiers, regardless of whether those soldiers were gay or not.
Phelps died in 2014, but the church carries on, led by Phelps’ family, and they still tour the country with their signs and their “public preaching,” with the occasional appearance around Topeka when they don’t have anything more exciting to do.
Phelps had established his church in his Topeka home—and other than the goings-on inside, the church is in a surprisingly nice neighborhood, with lots of trees and fine schools, and cute restaurants a few blocks away. That’s where the Choose Topeka program comes in: they want to convince people that Topeka is a surprisingly pleasant place to live. Just don’t worry about the haters.
As the state capitol of Kansas, Topeka’s little downtown area has good hotels and nice stores, and even some coffee shops where they roast their own beans. Imagine ordering a latte, and while you wait, the barista finishes a drink and calls out the name “Shirley,” and it’s Shirley Phelps-Roper. Wouldn’t that be fun?
View this post on Instagram
There is no gay bar in Topeka, but there are lots of gay and trans visitors who come to the city and pose for selfies in front of the world-famous Equality House and Mott House, which are directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters. Perhaps more homes on that block will be put up for sale, and gay and trans people could move in and the whole street could be a shining beacon of rainbow solidarity.