An Artist’s Response to the Westboro Protests at Juilliard

An Artist’s Response to the Westboro Protests at Juilliard

How art can serve as a catalyst against social injustice.

I attended schools of performing and visual arts since the fourth grade, studying musical theatre. I continue my theatre and music studies at University of Florida. As a heterosexual and cisgendered student in the arts, with many friends, teachers, and colleagues who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, I could not put into words how disgusted I am that a prestigious institute like the Juilliard School, a conservatory where uniquely brilliant minds collaborate as artists, could be targeted by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church—a cult responsible for preaching anti-semitism, xenophobia, and homophobia.

The “Church,” founded by the late Fred Phelps, was responsible for various pickets at the funerals of fallen gay soldiers, and at memorials of Matthew Shepard and victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting. Shirley Phelps Roper, Fred’s daughter, claimed that WBC chose Juilliard as an arena to spread their prejudiced propaganda on the grounds that it was “the heart and soul of the arts community…” responsible for “filling the nation with proud sodomites.”

On Thursday, Nov. 3, members of the organization marched onto the 65th Street entrance of Juilliard’s Lincoln Center campus, sporting signs with phrases like “Repent or Perish,” “The World is Doomed,” and their most infamous and despicable slogan to date, “God Hates F—s.” These protestors were greeted by sixty to one hundred Juilliard students and artists from throughout the city.

Musicians, actors and dancers stood on the front lines, preparing to fight hate with love and expression. Singing and playing songs like “Amazing Grace,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and carrying signs reading “Sing a new song unto the Lord” and “Hell must be FABULOUS,” these students were armed with the power of music and creative expression to tackle words of intolerance. Students even presented an original performance piece entitled “God Loves Jazz” and a parody of a number from the musical “Hamilton.”

Through the works they displayed, these performers lived up to the words of Tony Award winning composer Jonathan Larson: “The opposite of war isn’t peace: it’s Creation.”

As an artist, I believe these counter protests prove that a song, dance, or piece of theatre can promote change or empowerment. I am proud of my fellow musicians and thespians for standing up against a self righteous and narrow-minded Westboro Baptist Church. Like the “Angels” responsible for blockading church pickets during the Matthew Shepard murder trial and memorial services of the Pulse victims, these students actively took a stand against a sea of smite using a dune breaker of pride.

All photographs were taken by Joey Lavarias, a Bachelor of Music (BM) Candidate in Bassoon Performance, courtesy of Odyssey contributor Ashley Williams.

Cover Image Credit: Photo Credit by Joey Lavarias, Courtesy of Ashley Williams
Cover Image Credit: Photo Credit by Joey Lavarias, Courtesy of Ashley Williams
Cover Image Credit: Photo Credit by Joey Lavarias, Courtesy of Ashley Williams

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37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.

1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.

Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

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If Women Are Sluts For Having Sex, Then Men Are Even Sluttier Than Us

Raise your hand if you've ever been called a slut.


Raise your hand if you've ever been called a slut. Most people are under the impression that only women can be referred to as sluts. But I'm here to set the record straight. Contrary to popular belief, guys can be sluts too.

Time for a brief history lesson. According to The Daily Oxford, one of the first uses of the word "slut" was in literature during the 14th century. Specifically, the author questioned, "Why is thy lord so sluttish?"

Surprisingly, the author wasn't referring to sex. Here, he was talking about the man's appearance, which was contradictory to his rank. Although the author didn't mention the word sex, we can agree that the appearance of a person often contributes to the meaning of the word "slut."

I'm sure you've heard the saying "don't judge a book by its cover," but we all know that our society is judgmental. It wasn't until later that the term "slut" evolved to mean "a dirty woman." Regardless of its roots, this term is usually only used to describe a woman.

Why is that? Men often judge women for their sexual activity. And it's unfair.

We live in a society where men are not judged as harshly for their sexual activity. God forbid a woman enjoys sex, she's considered a slut.

Then there are the girls who are just plain mean. Rather than bring each other up, women often tear each other down. Remember how in "Mean Girls" Regina told Gretchen that everyone hated Karen because she was such a slut? This happens more often than you may think. Think about this. Regina's boyfriend Aaron kissed Cady while they were still dating. Gretchen's boyfriend Jason was known for getting around. Never once was the term "slut" used to describe a guy in the movie.

Eventually, these negative terms became widely used and that leads us to where we are today. Perhaps, we should recognize the fact that both men and women can exhibit "slutty" behavior.

And sure, men already have their own term "Fuckboys" but let's get real. That term focuses primarily on the act of playing with a girl's emotions. "Manslut" would be a more accurate term to describe a guy who sleeps around. Now, I'm not endorsing name-calling, but if you must, know what you're talking about.

Urban Dictionary defines a "manslut" as a promiscuous male. A simple and clean definition. Well, simple yes, clean not so much. These are the type of guys you can take ONE look at and you know who they've been with and what they've done.

Many people like to point fingers towards fraternity guys such as "Chad", but any guy who "gets around" fits the bill. He can be your neighbor, that guy from the bar, or even your coworker. "Mansluts" are everywhere.

Rest assured, you'll know a "manslut" when you see one. Use protection and proceed with caution. Trust me, you're not the only one he's been with this week.

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