On the football field, high school star running back Jake Bain relied on offensive linemen to block for him, clear his path.
On Monday, the senior at John Burroughs School in Ladue, Mo., saw that a lot of people are willing to do the same for him off the field.
When the school and LGBTQ communities heard last week that members of Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., planned to protest Monday at the school against Bain, they organized a peaceful counter-protest.
Westboro, known for protest signs that say "God Hates Fags," targeted Bain because he came out as gay at a school assembly last year on National Coming Out Day.
St. Louis media noted that he was the first openly gay star athlete in local high schools. He was recently honored as a "Hometown Hero" at Pride Night during a St. Louis Blues game, Fox 2 in St. Louis reported.
“This beast is vaunted as the best thing that has happened to football since Knute Rockne,” a Feb. 24 press release on the church's website read. “In fact, in the wake of this football playing fag phenomenon, Knute is just a proverbial water boy.”
On Monday, dueling protests set up outside the school — Westboro on one side of the street, more than 100 Bain supporters on the other, easily outnumbering the Topeka protesters and drowning out the hate speech with music and chanting. Read more via Kansas City