Phelps Grandkid Abandons Westboro Baptist Church, Opens Up To Gay Community

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 11.55.00 AMZach Phelps-Roper is the 23-year-old grandson of the late Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, and now the fourth of Fred’s 10 grandchildren to abandon the church.

Aided by family members who had already flew the cuckoo’s nest, Zach moved out of the family compound, leaving the church that his mother, Shirley Phelps-Roper, now heads.

He told the Topeka Capital-Journal that his interactions with LGBT people since the move have been shockingly warm.

He was even offered a free meal at the Olive Garden which, you know, is always nice.

“After I left the church I met some homosexual men who were very kind to me, and I was taken aback. I met this guy at Olive Garden one night with my sister and he offered to pay for my entire dinner and I was so taken aback… I was like, “I don’t know what to say,” so I said, “No, no, let me do that, I’ll just pay for that, I’ve got it.”

What a gentleman.

And jokes aside, good on Zach for taking what must be a challenging step towards empathy, breaking from the only life he’s ever known.

It wasn’t the last he’d see of the generous Olive Garden patron, either.

“It was so funny because the very next day I saw him… I went out for a very moderate drinking [session] with my friends and family and … he just came up to me and just kindly got me one of these fruity kind of drinks that I like and he just said “Here you go man,” and just walked off – he didn’t even expect a thank you.”

We can’t imagine they’re too fond of fruity drinks at the Westboro compound.

Zach now says empathy and unconditional love are the keys to solving the worlds problems, and we will most certainly cheers him to that.

You keep knocking down those cosmos, Zach, and next time we see you at the Olive Garden the calamari’s on us.

h/t Gay Star News

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  • TinoTurner

    “taken aback” is a verbal crutch for idiots…just sayin. Just like “what-not”

  • AJAnders

    His mother Shirley is probably the sickest out of the Phelps clan now that Frad has died. She’s the one always interviewed on the cable news channels whenever their family makes headlines, always with this strange look on her face as if she was abducted by aliens. She’s also a “lawyer” and always makes arguments for her family by stating things and bible verses that a 3rd grader could easily debunk.

    I congratulate Zach from leaving that place and wish him the best. But unfortunately, having that woman for a mother will still probably leave him screwed up for the rest of his life.

  • Stache99

    We can’t choose our parents but we can choose our friends.

  • Billy Budd

    Normally, when you condition a person, from a very early age, to hate something or someone, that hatred remains and persists for the rest of his/her life. That is why religious education should not be given to children. Oxford Scientist Richard Dawkins puts a lot of emphasys on this.

    It is a MIRACLE that this guy was capable of looking out of the box and recognizing he was leading a horrible life and had no moral values. He escaped from his inner prison.

  • TerrenM

    @Billy Budd: You forgot to say you live in Brazil.

  • DerekR

    @TerrenM: Now that is some funny sh!t LMAO……..he also forgot to add if he would or would not penetrate him.

  • Billy Budd

    I don’t understand why my comments bother you so much.

  • BrianZ

    @Billy Budd: I am impressed you took the time to consider it at all. I certainly wouldn’t have: It isn’t like you are being critiqued by Stephen Hawking or RuPaul, or anyone even remotely interesting.

  • gjg64

    A gay man being caught at an Olive Garden is almost as shocking as the story.

  • Stache99

    @gjg64: I guess I didn’t get the memo. What’s wrong with Olive Garden?

  • mcflyer54

    @gjg64: Yet another stereotype shattered! Actually I know a number of gay men who work, or have worked, at the Olive Garden.

  • Bryguyf69

    This story made my day. I do want to add a dose of reality, however. I don’t know the specifics of the Olive Garden incidents, but it just seems very unusual that strangers would offer to pay for his meal, especially since he was out with family and friends. Did they recognize him as a Westboro defector? If so, I think he deserves the kindness and generosity. But if the men were coming on to him, which is normally flattering, the result might not be so good. For some, it confirms the stereotype of the predatory homosexual — especially ones that are out to convert straight men. For others, being attractive to gays shakes their fragile sense of masculinity — as if being attractive to gays means that they’re also gay. Progressive straight men secure in their sexuality have no problems being oogled by gays, but this guy was raised within the Westboro Baptist Church, not exactly an environment of psychological normalcy. I certainly hope that he is as amazingly progressive as this story suggests, but gay men need to be cautious from being overly friendly until he acclimates to the normal world.

  • SteveDenver

    It sounds like he’s on his way to a happy life as he punches through the prejudices with which he was raised. Good luck to him and his family who have escaped the evil and lies of that sinister cult. Thank you to the gay gentleman who has been friendly, I hope he’s just the first of an army of wonderful gays and lesbians Zach meets.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Bryguyf69: I doubt anyone was coming onto him. They probably actually had a long talk about everything.

  • Throbert McGee


    “taken aback” is a verbal crutch for idiots…just sayin. Just like “what-not”

    I have worked as an ESL teacher in both a professional and amateur capacity, and I would unhesitatingly recommend “to be taken aback” to any of my students. It’s not in any sense a “verbal crutch”; it’s a synonym for “to be somewhat surprised” or “to be caught off guard”

    On the other hand, “what-not” is a sort of filler-word (Russians would call it a “slovo-parazit“), and therefore should not be used to excess, because the effect is, like, annoying, ya know, or whatevahs.

    But used sparingly, “what-not” is a perfectly cromulent colloquialism, and I would also recommend it to ESL students (as a synonym for “and so forth” or “etc.”) as long as they don’t overuse it.

    And I would also say to ESL students: “Class, don’t pay any attention to TinoTurner. He’s a pompous prat who was just looking for any excuse to pick on Zach Phelps-Roper because of his family background, and doesn’t know good English usage from Shinola.”

    (Then I’d have to explain the “Shinola” reference, and that the expression is a bit old-fashioned, but still understood by most Americans even though “Shinola” shoe-polish is an obsolete brand.)

  • Tommysole

    @Stache99: This is true.

    My parents had me conditioned to hate Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and fags and lesbians.
    Look at me, mom and dad!!!! This was a moment when my parents disowned me. My coming out to them. The hate schooling lingered on though, I hated myself, blacks, “spics” as my family called them until I had a revelation.
    I dated a Jewish man that I did not know WAS Jewish when we started to date. Finding out he was Jewish after we fell in love, and that was that.
    I learned about Judaism and how his religion worked. Most of his friends were black and Hispanic, living in Dover N.J. there was a large mix of all different races.
    It lasted for nearly 15 years until he died of cancer and I miss him terribly, everyday.
    My brother is a 2 time felon, drug addict, alcoholic and totally unemployable, yet………..I am the bad one because I am a “fag that dated and lived and loved and had SEX with a JEW!”
    Hate is a value that is taught not learned.

  • Kieran

    Crazy Grandpa is dead over a month so I guess it’s safe to reach out to gays without risking him blowing your brains out with a shotgun.

  • Throbert McGee


    I guess I didn’t get the memo. What’s wrong with Olive Garden?

    Some people would argue that the Olive Garden serves a “dumbed-down,” blandified, Americanized version of Italian food.

    On the other hand, as “dumbed-down” foreign cuisine goes, the Olive Garden really isn’t that bad at all. A few weeks ago, my family celebrated my nephew’s 7th birthday by going to one of those “Japanese steak-houses” where everything is cooked at the table with huge bursts of flame and knife-juggling by the chef. The food was a bit over-priced (though grandma and grandpa picked up the whole tab) and definitely under-seasoned and dumbed-down for my tastes, and the tastes of my parents. (Recently, my mom and dad went on a seniors package tour of Cambodia, where they saw Angkor Wat and the killing fields, and also enjoyed snacking on the local delicacy deep-fried tarantula, because that’s how my mom and dad roll. “Tasted a lot like soft-shell crab,” my mother reported.)

    If it had been just me and my parents without a finicky seven-year-old and my almost-as-finicky brother-in-law in tow, we would’ve had our cooked-at-the-table experience at a Korean BBQ populated by actual Koreans with 12 types of highly spiced kimchee as condiments. But it was a seven-year-old’s birthday, and the lack of pizazz in the food was more than compensated for by the huge bursts of flame and highly skilled knife-juggling. (Nephew’s favorite part: when the chef made a little smoking “volcano” from a pile of sliced onions.)

    So, anyway, I personally enjoy Olive Garden’s food, but at the same time, I recognize that a lot of the mom-and-pop Italian restaurants in NYC have better menus.

  • DonW

    Shouldn’t it be “had already flown the cuckoo’s nest,” not “had already flew the cuckoo’s nest”? Or is this Queerty, the Beverly Hillbillies version?

  • Hillers

    He’s actually at least the fifth of the Phelps grandchildren to leave: Josh Phelps-Roper, Megan Phelps-Roper, Grace Phelps-Roper and Libby Phelps (now Alvarez) left before him. (Yes, I’m mildly obsessed with this cult.)

    So proud of this brave decision of his. If y’all haven’t yet, you should check the interview that Jeff Chu did with Megan: http://onlevelground.org/film-festival/damsel-arise-a-conversation-with-megan-phelps-roper/

  • Billy Budd

    @BrianZ: I am impressed you took the time to tell this to me. Why do you bother?

  • DickieJohnson

    Hooray for Zach! It’s great how he came to his higher moral senses, and to see the light enough to leave that truly twisted family-cult of hate and ignorance. Now, hopefully, he can befriend LGBTs of a higher, positive calibre with whome to associate himself, rather than the snarky, hateful, bitch-&-whine-about-everything miserable old queens! Good luck, Zach!!!

  • samwise343

    @TerrenM: and @DerekR



  • Sebizzar

    Good on him!! The Westboro cult is just going to keep falling apart now that their “leader” is dead.

  • Bryguyf69

    Here’s Huffington Post’s take on his departure. It links to a YouTube interview with Zach. Seems like a thoughtful intelligent guy with a lot of healthy curiosity. It was the squashing of this curiosity about the outside world that ultimately led him out of WBC. I think he’ll do well but there seems to still be some hesitant conflict in his voice, which is, of course, expected.


  • IcarusD

    I’m a little confused about the guy at the Olive Garden. I’m assuming they somehow struck up a conversation and the gay gentlemen discovered that Zach was a WBC-expatriate and was thanking him for his courage to leave and reject hate. But the article doesn’t make that clear. It’s not even clear that the gentleman knew anything about Zach. Perhaps he was just making a pass at him? In any event, I applaud Zach’s courage and graciousness.

  • Bryguyf69

    @IcarusD: You’ve basically echoed the concerns I raised in aan earlier post above. I too am puzzled by the scenario. But it’s not Queerty’s fault. I looked for other reports of Zach defection and they’re all unclear about the incident. In fact, Zach himself is pretty ambiguous about these positive encounters he’s had wih gays. It all seems too easy, almost like a fairy tale (pun intended). Then again, Zach seems to have an open heart and curious to learn about the world.

  • mezzacanadese

    It is wonderful that Zach has left the church. He should keep contact with his nutty mother to a minimum.

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