Photographer's Note

This is a follow-up to the photo I posted yesterday. I know that this topic is somewhat controversial, but I think it's important when sharing things about the world, to include even those things that aren't always pleasant. They exist, and we need to acknowledge them. If the purpose of TE is to inform people about what's going on in the world around them, that has to include some contentious things sometimes.

From the note yesterday, which I have abbreviated; you can read my comments from yesterday's post, if you're interested: this unassuming house in a suburban neighborhood of Topeka makes a powerful statement This is the Mott (formerly the Transgender) House. Right next door is the Equality House. The Mott (Transgender) House located directly next door was acquired in June, 2016. It was painted with the pink, white and blue colors of the transgender pride flag. Use of it was then donated to the Capital City Equality Center in 2017. It was renamed the Mott House in 2019 after the sudden death of Stephanie Mott, one of Kansas's most prominent and vocal transgender activists.

The reason for all this love (!) is the location: both of these rather modest homes are right across the street from the world headquarters of the infamous Westboro Baptist "Church", which is famous for picketing the funerals of people with whom they disagree, or simply those who are famous, to generate publicity for their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. This house and its associated foundation was established by Aaron Jackson, founder of the non-profit organization Planting Peace. This organization has long promoted tolerance and acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community, and has staged elaborate PR events, such as launching a pride flag into space and claiming Antarctica in the name of LGBTQ+ rights. Jackson purchased the Equality House first, for $81,000 when he saw that it was up for sale while casually browsing Google Earth back in 2013. A veteran, whose brothers- and sisters-in-arms have been the frequent target of vicious hate campaigns by the group (the aforementioned protesting and picketing of the funerals of deceased service members with signs such as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Killed Your Sons," Pray for More Dead Soldiers," and "You're All Going to Hell!") was the one who painted the house with its current rainbow color scheme.

Members of the Planting Peace organization lived in the Equality House initially, and it also became the main office in 2016, so the interior is no longer open to visitors, but guests are welcome and even encouraged to take photos on the property. I saw someone taking their graduation photos in front of it while I was there, so it's become something of a town celebrity!

Not surprisingly, however, the house has been the target of sometimes-violent counteroffensive efforts: it was vandalized in October, 2016, with homophobic slurs and seven bullet holes, clearly illustrating that the stakes are high. Owner Jackson released a statement, saying that "the blatant acts of hate we experience at the Equality House mirror the acts of hate and discrimination our LGBT family experiences every day. Planting Peace has seen an increase in hate mail, death threats and physical acts of vandalism and violence... According to the FBI, the LGBT community is more likely to experience a hate crime than any other minority group." The defacement was kept in place, with visitors encouraged to write messages of love over them. Love is Louder.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 80 W: 78 N: 894] (1691)
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