Five years after Westboro Baptist Church protested Doane, the counterprotest, Doane is Love, is still going strong as an annual event.
In 2015, the Doane Owl published an article supporting its LGBTQ+ students with the upcoming Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. A Kansas church, Westboro Baptist, protested Doane based on the articles and a counterprotest was formed-- Doane is Love.
While the original counterprotest only lasted one day, it has since evolved into a week-long celebration that kicked off this past Sunday, Oct. 11.
“It’s just about being there for each other and expressing our love for [the LGBTQ+ community] because a lot of people come from families or places that don’t accept them,” senior Shay Rosseter, president of People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities (PRISM) said.
Last year, Doane is Love was scheduled for March; however, due to the pandemic, it was moved to June in a virtual format.
Suzannah Rogan, Campus Advocacy, Prevention and Education (CAPE) Project Director and Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist, played a large role in setting up Doane is Love this year.
When Rogan and Rosseter discussed when it would occur this year, they felt a sense of urgency as they “didn’t want it to go by without happening” again, according to Rogan.
They wanted it to be this semester, and they felt this week would be best as Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day.
Doane is Love kicked off on Oct. 11 with tie dye t-shirts as an homage to the original Doane is Love counterprotest when students wore tie dye t-shirts.
This week will also include a Dialogue Panel on Wednesday, Oct. 14 where Eric Reiter, one of the people who started the counterprotest five years ago, will be speaking about their experiences as an LGBTQ+ activist. It will conclude on Oct. 16 with a viewing and panel of the documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen,” as a way to make sure transgender, non-binary and gender queer students are included, according to Rogan.
While the DEI and PRISM play a large role in preparing for Doane is Love, other groups and programs collaborated as well. The Student Programming Board (SPB) helped with several events, and the Writing Center partnered to create Write Out Loud where LGBTQ+ students can share their experiences.
Rosseter explained the importance of various groups helping with this event and stressed that this event is for everyone.
“It’s for everyone. You do not have to be gay to be a part of it. Just like any minority, we all have to come together to fight for any injustice that we see,” Rosseter said.
According to Rogan, this event is about inclusion. She said students can learn about the LGBTQ+ community during this event without having to put the “emotional stress on the students we are celebrating.”
Rogan wanted to make sure this event made LGBTQ+ students the focus. The last few years of Doane is Love became “a little washed in terms of the LGBTQ+ focus,” so Rogan wanted this year to focus on why Doane is Love started in the first place, going “back to our roots.” Hence the name: Back to Our Roots.
For students interested in taking part in Doane is Love: Back to Our Roots, the links to the virtual events were attached in an email sent out to all students.