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St. Louis high school rallies around gay football player to counter hate group

Jake Bain finds love and acceptance on campus.

Jake Bain, left, and boyfriend Hunter Sigmund, both Burroughs students
Photo courtesy of Andrew Newman

Students, faculty, alumni, friends and allies at a St. Louis high school rallied today in support of Jake Bain, a senior at the school who is on the football team and openly gay.

John Burroughs School was the target of 11 members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which was basically protesting the fact that Bain exists. WBC is an ant-LGBT hate group.

The school was 100% behind Bain and sent out a congratulatory tweet about the counter-protests and this summary (the story also includes a terrific photo gallery):

On Monday, March 12, a hate group fixated on the LGBTQ+ community, picketed Burroughs on the Clayton Road sidewalk. The group of 11 from the Westboro Baptist Church was met with an estimated 500 to 600 counter-protests from Pride STL and many friends and allies.

At the same time — and by design — most of our students chose not to engage with WBC. Instead, and after thoughtful planning, they assembled in Haertter Hall to hear student reflections and to view videos from supportive alums throughout the country.

Then students took a quiet unity walk out to the fields. Some spontaneous cheering and song erupted on the field hockey field, but soon students headed to the Memorial Gym for a few minutes before assembly to celebrate what they had accomplished together.

Students rally in support of Jake Bain.
Andrew Newman

Bain was moved by the support, tweeting:

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart to all who came to support the LGBTQ+ community at Burroughs this morning. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -MLK. Thank you all for shining your lights today.

Bain came out openly as gay last season, and after a successful high school football career will be attending Indiana State on a football scholarship. He has quickly become a vocal advocate of the rights of LBGTQ people.

I’m always loath to give WBC any attention, but the outpouring of love and support for Bain turned this in to a feel-good story.