Funerals were held today for some of the 49 persons who were killed in the terror attack on the gay nightclub, Pulse and the Westboro Baptist Church made good on their threat to protest the funerals of the victims of the Orlando massacre on Sunday. However, they found themselves drowned out by the supporters singing “Amazing Grace,” and it was a beautiful thing to see “Orlando Strong” in action.
The notorious extremist group known as Westboro Baptist Church are technically based in Kansas, but several of their members made it a priority to travel to Orlando to protest the funerals being held on Saturday, carrying their signature anti-gay signs. The messages that the extremist church members carried included “God is not mocked” as well as “God hates fag enablers” and their sharpened words said that it is “never OK to be gay.”
The group had a representative announce their plans beforehand, but those who share in the grief and support for the families affected also came with a plan and an impromptu rendition of “Amazing Grace” went a long way to helping. The Orlando Strong movement started following the massacre, and it came into play heavily here to show support for the LGBTQ community. The support that came pouring out from those who rallied around the LGBTQ community is being hailed as a true sign that for many across the country #LoveWins is stronger than the hateful rhetoric which so often follows LGBTQ people.
The handful of anti-LGBT protesters at the funeral took up a chorus of hateful and offensive chants that CTV News said never stood a chance as it was soon drowned out by the sound of a much larger crowd singing “Amazing Grace.” According to an account by one of the media house’s attendees at the funeral, there were about 1,000 people present who showed up to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s small protest.
The Inquisitr had also previously shared in the plans that one group of supporters had concocted in order to give some peace to the families and victims of the mass shooting. The Orlando Shakespeare Theater brilliant idea included the use of angels to guard over those in mourning. The staff members and volunteers spent over two days designing and working with the costume shop at the theater to build 11 sets of “angel wings.” In the words of their artistic director Jim Helsinger, the volunteers would don the wings in order to “show their support, proclaim love, and block the view of mourners from potential protesters.” The singing of “Amazing Grace” was truly a wonderful accompaniment to the angels.
The Orlando police had actually warned the public previously of the planned protest to the funeral for the victims of the mass shootings in the LBTQ club and had also advised that they would “ensure the safety of everyone at the funeral services and vigils in our city.” They, of course, had help.
The volume of person who came out in support included biker gangs and many persons holding signs that were expressly meant to be against the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest. One man held a handmade sign which stated that, “WBC you’ve never actually READ the Bible.” Others walked with rainbow-covered placards that shared heartfelt messages like, Love Wins,” “Love > hate,” and “Orlando Strong” and others simply held the American flags.
Buzzfeed did a piece showcasing the beauty that those singing the solemn words of “Amazing Grace” in response to the hateful words and actions that the extremist church tried to bring to the funeral of the victims of such a devastating shooting.
Westboro protesters have left the state & no plans to return. Thank you to those who met protest with grace & love. pic.twitter.com/PZJ9F9MB9S— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 18, 2016
It was not long before the protesters at the funeral were overwhelmed by the love and grace of those who came out to show their support and actually left the scene, having been thoroughly drowned in kindness. One the protesters left the angels and the fellow supporters received a massive round of applause and cheers. The Orlando police sent out a tweet advising that the protesters had left the state and thus far had no plans to return. They thanked everyone for their support.
Those in mourning at the funeral could finally do so in peace, surrounded by love.
[Photo by John Raoux/AP Images]