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After Antigay Pizzeria Fundraiser, Nonprofit Serves Up a Slice of Equality

After Antigay Pizzeria Fundraiser, Nonprofit Serves Up a Slice of Equality


Planting Peace is hosting a virtual pizza party that will benefit homeless members of the LGBT community.

Charitable, LGBT-friendly organization Planting Peace harnessed the power of the internet Saturday to launch a "Virtual Pizza" fundraiser to help combat LGBT homelessness.

The pizza-themed drive, which has raised more than $36,000 at press time, is in direct response to another fundraising campaign that benefitted the owners of the Walkerton, Indiana's Memories Pizza, after the shop temporarily closed its doors while facing backlash for publicly supporting the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Employees of a talk show on noted conservative Glenn Beck's The Blaze network started a GoFundMe page for Memories Pizza co-owners Kevin and Crystal O'Connor last week -- and raised more than $840,000 in a matter of days for the antigay pizzeria owners.

"I wanted to try to raise money for something that will actually make the world better and send a message of support to the LGBTQ community," said Aaron Jackson, Planting Peace's president, in a statement. "The best thing we can do in the face of something so negative is to try to turn it into something positive."

If Planting Peace's Crowdrise campaign reaches its goal of $100,000, an anonymous donor has agreed to make 100 hotel rooms available for a a full year to LGBT people in Kansas experiencing homelessness, the nonprofit told The Advocate.

"We find the idea of rewarding bigotry silly and shameful," reads the campaign's description on its Crowdrise donation page. "While one family is being supported with nearly a million dollars for acts of bigotry, there are LGBTQ people being rejected by their families and society because of these very acts of bigotry."

This isn't the first time Planting Peace, which was initially conceived as an environmental group, has taken a stand for the rights of LGBT citizens. Since its founding in 2004, the nonprofit has helped raise awareness of the LGBT plight through various special projects like Equality House, a rainbow-colored safe haven located just across the street from the hateful antigay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. In addition to providing support for LGBT youth, the Equality House has welcomed estranged members of the WBC, and hosted a drag show fundraiser aptly titled "Drag Down Bigotry."

Earlier this year, Planting Peace teamed up with a gay South African model after a hateful advertisement from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays used the man's stock photo on a Virginia billboard claiming "nobody is born gay."

The virtual pizza party is the latest of Planting Peace's efforts to promote its core beliefs of "spreading peace in a hurting world."

"The pizza fundraiser is a clear example of celebrating hate and intolerance, and a clear example that we still have a long way to go in the LGBTQ movement," Jackson said. "The world has so much hurt in it, and it's a shame that with so many serious issues facing humanity, people are putting their resources toward a campaign that sends such a negative message to society."

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