Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Escaping Westboro: How One Woman Fled the Odious Westboro Baptist Church and Got Herself Some New Friends

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Escaping Westboro: How One Woman Fled the Odious Westboro Baptist Church and Got Herself Some New Friends

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

After spending most of her teenage years as a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Lauren Drain was kicked out of the antigay church for talking to a boy. At least, that's how Drain tells the story in her revealing new memoir, Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church. Drain's father, Steve, led the charge to excommunicate his oldest daughter, despite the fact that he had uprooted his family from Florida seven years earlier, in part, he said, to try to save her soul. Drain was kicked out shortly before her 22nd birthday. Her father, mother, and two younger sisters are still embedded in the church, living in a house on the Westboro compound in Topeka, Kan.

Today, the 27-year-old Drain lives with her fiance in Connecticut, where she is a registered nurse. In Banished, Drain says she "will never be a political activist for gay rights," but she tells The Advocate that she posed for the pro-equality No H8 campaign earlier this year to show "that people can change. People can be forgiven and communities aren't going to hold those judgments against you forever."

She says she was "ecstatic" upon hearing the news that her former friends Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper--granddaughters of the church's infamous founding pastor, Fred Phelps--had abandoned the cult in February and apologized for their hateful words. …

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