Former Westboro Member Now Supports Equality At Topeka's Rainbow House

Libby Phelps Alvarez escaped the Westboro Baptist Church four years ago, but now she's back in Topeka, this time supporting LGBT equality and antibullying programs.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

April 16 2013 3:51 PM ET

A former member of the antigay Westboro Baptist Church who left the hate group four years ago is now taking a stand for LGBT equality — in a rainbow house across the street from her former home in Topeka, Kan.

Libby Phelps Alvarez was raised as a member of the hateful WBC, founded by her grandfather, Fred Phelps. When she was 26, Alvarez left the church, but in a new interview with the New York Post, Alvarez discusses her return to Topeka, now supporting Planting Peace, the nonprofit that recently purchased and painted rainbow a house across the street from Westboro's multi-building "compound."

Alvarez, now 30, told the Post's Sara Stewart that she hasn't seen her parents since she fled the church, although she still lives in Kansas with her husband. 

"When I was in the Rainbow House last week, I saw my parents go by on their daily walk," Alvarez told the Post. "I hadn’t seen them in four years. And I couldn’t go to them, couldn’t talk to them. It wouldn’t be productive. I just watched them walk by and I started crying."

Alvarez, who is now partnering with Planting Peace to create antibullying programs, says she's certain her parents will see reports about her visit to her hometown.

"My dad will see this story, because he’s the one who weeds through press," Alvarez told the Post. "And if he thinks it’s worth forwarding on, he’ll forward it to everybody. And then someone will be like, 'She’s following her lusts, she’s going to hell.' But I want to tell my parents that I love them. And I want to say that my parents were good parents."

Several other former WBC members and members of the Phelps family have left the church, including Fred Phelps' son, Nate, and other of Phelps' granddaughters, most recently Meghan and Grace Phelps-Roper, daughters of current church matriarch Shirley Phelp-Roper, and cousins to Alvarez. In March, former baptized WBC member Lauren Drain posed for the LGBT-inclusive NoH8 campaign, and spoke with The Advocate exclusively about her seven years inside the cult, even speculating about the source of Phelps' ardent hatred of homosexuality.

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