The ad shows a picture of Michelle and Jim Bob that says “The Duggars spent $10,000 to fight for ‘the right’ to fire gay people for who they love in Arkansas.” The other side says, “On an operating budget of just over $7,500 Lucie’s Place ministers to the LGBTQ homeless youth population of Arkansas.” Underneath, the ad asks, “Which cause would Jesus support?”
The ad raised $1,000 the morning it went up and after Dan Savage wrote a column interviewing Lucie’s Place founder Penelope Poppers, donations started to pour in.
“Nearly every single person who got kicked out by parents or guardian, they’ve been told by their parents that they don’t want a sinner living under their roof. They’ll use words like that” Poppers said. “And most of the homeless shelters here in Arkansas are run by private religious institutions, mostly Baptist, and there they’re told the same thing: They’re sinners.”
Lucie’s Place provides counseling, support, toiletries, bus passes, and phone minutes to homeless LGBT youth. Lucie’s Place was named after the first trans woman Poppers met who became her good friend until she passed away at 20. Now her mom is on the board of the organization.
The Duggars started attracting attention for their anti-gay views when Michelle recorded a robocall urging people to speak out against a bill allowing transgender people to use the correct bathroom.
A few months later, the couple deleted photos of same-sex couples kissing on their Facebook page when they asked people to post pictures of happily married couples.
Petitions were created both for and against the Duggar family and their TLC show. A twitter hashtag, #DefendTheDuggars was created to support the family, though it quickly became hijacked and turned against the family with sarcastic tweets like, “#DefendTheDuggars! Every child deserves 1/19th of a #christian mom and a dad!”
Poppers is shocked but excited at the amount of money Lucie’s Place has raised.
“This outpouring of support and generosity has been entirely unexpected, but we couldn’t be more excited about it!” she said. “…I’ve said this a few times to different people but I would have never dreamed that we would ever see this kind of support from across the nation and world. This has been a wonderful breath of fresh air, because so often LGBT people down here in the south feel like we’re forgotten about because the coasts and Chicago get nearly all of the attention for LGBT issues. This has been a wonderful reminder that this isn’t the case, people do care about the south, and were were able to raise more money in a week than we did all year. We hope that this is a good sign for us, and the sort of year we can expect 2015 to be.”
Click here to donate to Lucie’s Place.