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Missouri Community Defends Openly Gay High School Football Star Against Westboro Baptist Church Protest

This is what progress looks like.

Missouri Community Defends Openly Gay High School Football Star Against Westboro Baptist Church Protest

A Missouri community stood in solidarity with a gay student against whom Westboro Baptist Church came to town to protest on Monday morning.

Jake Bain, a senior at John Burroughs High School in Laude, Missouri, came out as gay last year and has been a source of inspiration for other LGBT youth in his community. Bain is the running back and team captain of his high school's football team, and will be attending Indiana State University in the fall.

"This beast is vaunted as the best thing that has happened to football since Knute Rockne," Westboro Baptist Church said in a press release. "In fact, in the wake of this football playing fag phenomenon, Knute is just a proverbial water boy."

Bain's strongest defender was his boyfriend, Hunter Sigmund.

"My main reason for coming out was not necessarily for me," Bain told local NBC affiliate KSDK in December. "For me, it was to try and reach out to people who aren't comfortable coming out. I feel like, especially within athletics, there's a stigma. I don't think being an athlete and gay really collide." Bain came out during an assembly speech to his school last October.

Benjamin Hochman, a sports columnist for Saint Louis Today, wrote a touching piece about Bain in December, describing his courage and willingness to embrace his identity. "Jake Bain is the best athlete at his high school," Hochman wrote. "He'd be the best athlete at most high schools." Hochman's praise of the aspiring collegiate athlete was due in large part to an interview Bain gave in December in which he revealed why he decided to come out as gay.

On Monday morning, Westboro Baptist Church, whose notoriously anti-LGBT messaging has made them infamous as one of the nation's most vocal hate groups, mounted a protest outside the school.

The Saint Louis Crusaders, a men's rugby team and "one of many sports organizations in the area dedicated to promoting equality and diversity in sports," offered their support for Bain and encouraged their community to step forward and defend the school's valued athlete.

The Saint Louis Crusaders even launched a Facebook event to extend the opportunity to anyone who wanted to attend. "Pride St. Louis reiterate their support for Bain, and unequivocally denounces the homophobic, discriminatory, hate-filled rhetoric from Westboro. "Our organization stands fully behind Jake," said Marty Zuniga, Vice President of Pride St. Louis," the group said in their event.