Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to deal with haters


By Hunter Riley for Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center

It can be hard to know how to deal with hate, and hateful people, but the students at Texas A&M made a great example of how to deflect and possibly prevent hateful people from infiltrating a positive and respectful space.

One recent act of awesomeness and love happened at the funeral for former soldier Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale. Tisdale died in June after an accident at a training camp in North Carolina, according to a report from the Huffington Post. He was a Texas A&M alum and his funereal was planned to be held at Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas.

The Westboro Baptist Church, which frequently protests military and and LGBT funerals and other events,  posted a press release on its website saying it planned to picket Tisdale's funeral. According to the church's website, "These soldiers are dying for the homosexual and other sins of America. God is now America’s enemy, and God Himself is fighting against America."

video by: LocalNews-GrabNetworks

Students at Texas A&M decided to be proactive about giving Tisdale's family the respect his funeral deserved after he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former Texas A&M student Ryan Slezia invited students and community members via Facebook to join him in making sure the WBC could not disrupt the funeral. His plan was to form a chain of people, wearing school colors, around the church in which the funeral was held.

"In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon. In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm. This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity," he wrote on Facebook.

The funeral, which was held on Thursday, drew a crowd of hundreds. One student reported via Twitter that there were about 650 people in attendance with arms linked surrounding the church's entrance.

The Westboro Baptist Church never showed.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to react, if at all, to such intense hate. The students at Texas A&M did the right thing, in my opinion.

Student Lilly McAlister was quoted by TV station KBTX as saying “We are standing here quietly. We are here for the family,” she said. "We are positioned with our backs to them. Everyone has been told there's no chanting, no singing, there's no yelling anything back."

Another inspiring act of love in response to the hateful messages spread by WBC was from nine-year old Josef Miles. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Miles silently protested the WBC while they picketed Washburn University's graduation ceremony in May by making a sign of his own that read "God hates no one."

While part of me doesn't want to give anymore attention to WBC, I think it's important to know what type of response might get them to back off. And it seems the approach of Texas A&M students worked.

For more information see the Huffington Post.

Hunter Riley is a sex educator at Self Serve and also manages SEXed, a sex-education blog on WordPress. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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