Repainting your house with an unorthodox color scheme can sometimes make your neighbors a little touchy. Particularly, this house — and particularly, these neighbors. Aaron Jackson, who runs the nonprofit group Planting Peace, has painted his newly bought house in Topeka, Kansas with bright rainbow colors — the same as the Gay Pride Flag. But what makes this house special is that it sits right across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church.
Jackson, a self-described news junkie, used Google Earth to locate the church — an organization famous for its virulent anti-homosexual views and its tendency to picket military funerals. But as he zoomed in on the Westboro compound, he realized that the house right across the street had a “For Sale” sign on it. He immediately called a realtor and began drawing up plans to turn the building into a LGBTQ museum — and though zoning laws prohibited that plan he went ahead with the idea of painting the house the colors of the rainbow Pride Flag. Jackson’s mother, an artist, designed the color scheme and flew from Florida this week to help oversee the painters doing the work. Jackson wanted a professional paint crew, he says, because he “wanted [the house] to be taken seriously.” But after they got wind of what he had in mind, five painting companies didn’t return his follow-up calls; a realtor in Kansas City finally put him in touch with a company that was interested in helping out.
Fearing a prohibitive change in town ordinances, the entire project was kept under wraps until earlier this week. But by Wednesday, Jackson says, hundreds of people — not to mention media outlets — were coming to the neighborhood from as far away as Australia to deliver flowers, share their stories or just take a picture in front of the house. Jackson says he’s surprised by the outpouring of support and coverage — “usually people come here to check out the Church,” he tells TIME, “now the attention is on this house.”
For its part, the Westboro Church also welcomed the house — but mostly for the attention it believes Jackson is helping bring to their message: “We thank God for the Sodomite Rainbow House!” begins a church statement emailed to TIME.