Visiting the Westboro Baptist Church and the Equality Rainbow House Across the Street

rainbow house topeka kansas

If you really wanted to stick it to the Westboro Baptist Church – you know, the Fred Phelps-led small but loud group of hateful people who picket funerals and other high-profile events around the country as retaliation for America’s acceptance of gays and abortion and a bunch of other things they don’t agree with – what’s the most creative thing you could do?

I can’t think of a better idea than buying a house right across the street from the church and painting it in the rainbow colors of the pride flag. That’s what Aaron Jackson did, and now those who are turned off by Westboro’s message have a new reason to be hopeful. The Equality House aims to spread a message of love and peace.

planting peace rainbow equality house

Jackson and a friend moved into the new house and painted the house with the help of volunteers. They didn’t publicize their plans in advance, so WBC members were most likely shocked when they noticed the new paint job.

I had been considering making an ironic visit to the Westboro Baptist Church already, so when I heard about this new rainbow house, I knew I had to see it myself. I set off for Topeka, Kansas to take a look.

westboro baptist church rainbow house across the street

This is how the Rainbow House looks from the Westboro Baptist Church across the street.


My visit to Westboro Baptist Church and the Equality Rainbow House

I arrived at the same time as the postman. It was weird to watch him deliver mail to the rainbow house, then cross the street and deliver mail to Westboro. It suddenly dawned on me how bizarre his daily routine is.

Imagine if your everyday job was to deliver mundane junk mail and supermarket circulars to such a notorious institution as the WBC. That would mess with my mind. “Gotta make sure Fred Phelps knows what’s on sale at the Pic ‘n’ Save this week!

westboro god hates america

When I stopped by nobody seemed to be home at Westboro. I thought I saw Michelle Shocked peeking out one of the windows, but perhaps that was just my imagination.

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Here’s a pic of WBC’s trash can on the street. I’ll leave it up to you whether you’d like to take this opportunity to construct a metaphor involving “Westboro Baptist Church” and “garbage,” or take the high road in the name of peace and love.

westboro baptist church garbage

As for the Equality House, it stood loud and proud. I noticed it from a few blocks away, well before I saw WBC, thanks to the tall rainbow and American flags flying above. On this particular day, a snowstorm had created the opportunity for some icy artwork.

Snowpeople for equality!

snowpeople for equality house

Things to know about the Westboro Baptist Church’s location

For some reason I had imagined that Westboro would be situated in a rural location, but it turns out that WBC is smack in the middle of a friendly, walkable suburban neighborhood just a couple miles from downtown Topeka. There are sidewalks on the block and free street parking as well, so you can get as close as you like.

Wave to the surveillance cameras!

westboro security cameras

The area surrounding WBC is actually just like any other American suburb. This is what the block looks like in winter.

equality house neighborhood street parking

The shopping mall down the street has tattoo parlors and liquor stores. There’s so much sin surrounding Westboro!

watkins liquor topeka

I include these photos to point out that WBC’s homebase is not some neighborhood full of loonies who all believe what Fred Phelps preaches. It’s an incredibly normal American town. Westboro is just one building on a block of seemingly regular families going about their business, so don’t get the impression that Topeka itself is a bad place because of the WBC.

It’s the kind of neighborhood where you can walk two blocks from the Westboro Church and rainbow house to the Arby’s on the corner, where you can still see the rainbow colors out the window as you scarf down your roast beef sandwich.

Visiting the Equality House and the Transgender House

The residents of the rainbow house welcome visitors to walk on their property to take pics. Go right up on their lawn and snap away, and share your images with the world. They even say visitors can take some veggies or pull weeds in their community garden. You can read more about their mission at

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The house was featured on lots of news reports at the time of its painting. Property owners now report that they get about 150 visitors per day.

For those who haven’t been following this story lately, here’s an update. In 2016, Jackson was able to buy the property next door to the equality house (thanks largely to donations from supporters) and decided to name it “The Transgender House.” It was painted in the colors of the transgender flag and stands as a symbol of acceptance for the trans community, which has one of the highest suicide rates of any demographic group.

This updated photo from Planting Peace shows how the street looks now:

equality transgender house topeka

Street parking is free and readily available. Just be respectful of the other neighbors, who might be bothered by all the attention their street is getting.

Would you visit the Equality House by the Westboro Baptist Church?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. This is hilarious. Now the next step would be to turn it into a gay bar. Then open a few more in the area and pretty soon, you’ve got Topeka’s newest gay district centered around Phelps and his clan of inbreds It shouldn’t take long for his head to explode after that.

  2. Such an amazing, non-stooping down to their level way of fighting back against the WBC. Also, thanks for showing that it’s in a super normal area. I always assumed there was some rural sort of crazy rural compound they all lived on.

  3. This is amazing! It reminds me why I would never want to live in the US, but at the same time makes me ask myself “why don’t I live in the US?”!

  4. I read all about the Rainbow House last week and it’s nice to see your photos. Thanks so much for making the effort to visit and share photos!!

    1. It was super timely since I was going to be in Kansas anyway! It would have been nice to talk to the owners but I get the sense they have been doing one interview after another so I decided not to push things.

  5. If I lived anywhere in the midwest, this would be a must-go trip. Thanks for letting me take it vicariously through you. Probably the best tourist attraction in Topeka for 2013!

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