Dear Kim Petras, You Posing in Front of the Westboro Baptist Church Means More to Me than You Will Ever Know

Dear Kim Petras, You Posing in Front of the Westboro Baptist Church Means More to Me than You Will Ever Know

Growing up queer in Kansas, I had always wished for an icon like Kim Petras.

Growing up queer in Kansas, I had always wished for an icon like Kim Petras.

Text: AJ Longabaugh

When TMZ broke a story mid-November that Kim Petras’ “Got My Number” had been blasted across 4 electronic billboards in Topeka as propaganda against the bigotry-driven Westboro Baptist Church, I was, for lack of a better phrase, shook as fuck. Firstly, anyone that knows me could tell you that Kim Petras is my queen. Secondly, I hadn’t thought about the WBC since I’d abandoned the Bible belt and the state of Kansas nearly a decade ago.
I’m all too familiar with the WBC due to growing up in the middle of Kansas and the hate organizations viral uprising in post 9/11 America after the Bush administration declared war on the Middle East. For those less acquainted with the WBC, the rule of thumb for their chosen protests is simple: If something’s drawing national attention, that’s God calling them to preach their dangerously evil rhetoric. If a soldier had died, they would be at the funeral holding signs that read “God Hates Fags.” Any pride parade across the nation? Still, “God Hates Fags” plus “Fags Eat Poop.” When it was announced that they were allowing a gay-straight alliance club at my high school my sophomore year, they were across the road making it very clear that they believed “God Hates Fags”, “Fags Eat Poop”, “God Hates Fag Enablers” and that “Fags Doom Nations.”

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update. hoes still mad …

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Living in Wichita and being a closeted teenager throughout the early 2000s when saying “gay” was a term of insult, my lens of queer references was limited to Britney Spears and Madonna tongue kissing at VMAS, the endless re-runs of Will & Grace, and the flamboyantly gay character Bobby Ray in the movie Sweet Home Alabama that ends up as the punch line in every single scene he is in. I found solace watching shows like The Real World and The Simple Life starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Instead of simply believing that “it gets better”, I would obsessively listen to artists like Gwen Stefani and P!nk and channel as much confidence as I could through their angst and grit. And finally, the summer before my freshman year of college, Lady Gaga released “Just Dance” and pop in my world had officially peaked.
Flash forward to last night as I was scrolling Instagram and was quick to discover a video of Kim curbside in Kansas City standing across the street from a ditch filled with WBC protesters fearlessly striking pose after pose ass out and everything. What came next for me was as follows: chills, held back tears, and the largest sense of pride I have felt in recent years. At that moment I realized that Kim Petras simply being herself is a political act. Kim Petras onstage and selling out show after show is an even louder political act. Kim Petras is THE hero for LGBTQ+ millennials and Gen-Zers. She is an icon living and I couldn’t feel more grateful to be living in the time of her rise to pop superstardom.

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