Hundreds of young people gathered at a rally on Saturday to send a message that love is a lot louder than hate. An estimated 800 students from performing arts institution Emerson College stormed the streets of downtown Boston on October 2 to counter a protest of "The Laramie Project," an award-winning play based on the brutal 1998 murder of openly gay 21-year-old Matthew Shepard.
The rally, which was billed as "a celebration of inclusive & safe communities" on the project's Facebook page, staged the event in response to a protest mounted by the Westboro Baptist Church, an organization renowned for blasting homosexuality and picketing venues across the country.
Footage of the event shows scores of young people pumping colorful signs with slogans such as "Love Is Not Sin" and "Jesus Has 2 Dads" in the air and proclaiming "Love is louder" in the city's famed Public Garden. Drivers honked in support of the marchers, who donned white and waved rainbow flags, balloons and other accessories to show their solidarity with the LGBT community. The event's Facebook page said the students planned to sing "Amazing Grace" and circle the block where the college's Cutler-Majestic theater is located before heading inside to see the show.
College junior Claire Kaiser, who created the event page, told the school's Berkeley Beacon paper that "our counter-protest is not about protesting, but about celebrating the community we have here at Emerson."
Although the event page was created Tuesday, the students picked up MTV, actress Brittany Snow and the Jed Foundation's new "Love Is Louder" slogan to promote their message of tolerance.
The Love Is Louder initiative, which was realized with support from DoSomething.org, the Trevor Project, Reach Out, Active Minds and the Ad Council after the recent wave suicides by gay youth linked to bullying and digital abuse, aims to provide encouragement to young people who lack hope.
"Love Is Louder is a movement that is hopefully going to bring some awareness and make some noise when it comes to teens who are feeling suicidal or even just sad, outcasts, and being bullied, and really feel like they have nowhere to turn to," Snow explained recently.
A similar vigil is planned for Sunday night (October 3) at 9 p.m. at Washington Square Park in downtown New York.
For more information on Love Is Louder, visit the project's Facebook page. You can also upload videos to Your.MTV.com, just like Jonathan Bennett, Torrey DeVitto, Snow and Vinny Guadagnino did. You can also keep the conversation going on Twitter by using the hashtag #loveislouder.