Love is Louder

Shannon Kirby
Journal Contributor

An estimated 800 students from Emerson College, an institution known for its performing arts programs, rallied in front of The Majestic Theatre in response to a planned protest of the school’s production of The Laramie Project, which, in the film medium, opened the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for four Emmys.

In the wake of the tragic brutal beating and subsequent death of openly gay 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project crafted a play from 400 interviews of 100 Laramie residents. They called it The Laramie Project. The unfortunate murder was a hate crime motivated by homophobia. The play deals with issues of homosexuality, religion, class, economics, education, and non-traditional lifestyles.

In response to the Emerson theatre department’s plan to perform this play, a protest was planned by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), a group known for their protests against anything remotely related to the promotion of homosexual awareness. By their own count, WBC has conducted over 30,000 pickets, in all 50 states, and in over 500 cities and towns.

The chants of the many Emerson students dressed in white were heard from across the Common. Cars passing by beeped their horns for the cause. Hundreds of Emerson students took action, singing “Love is louder.” One avid supporter said that when they first heard of the Westboro Baptist Church’s plan, they organized a counter-protest because that sort of hate was not tolerated.

The WBC had announced their plan to protest Emerson’s production of The Laramie Project from 2-3p.m., October 2; but it quickly became apparent that they were either late, or not coming at all. The Boston Police Department, who was supposed to receive notification from the church, reported getting no notification, saying “there’s a good chance they’re not coming.”

Though the infamous Westboro Baptist Church did not make an appearance, those participating in the counter-protest felt strongly in the impact they were making, and believed they were doing their part in history.

Come 3p.m., the officers supervising the event said “no one will say [the counter-protesters] were rowdy”, but they had to close down the protest to make way for The Laramie Project’s attendees leaving the show. It was a peaceful dissipation, aside from giddy crowd’s final chants of “B.P.D.!” in happy agreement.

For more information on “Love Is Louder”, visit the project’s Facebook page. You can also keep the conversation going on Twitter by using the hashtag #loveislouder.