Even the best of families can have "black sheep" so it stands to reason that the worst family in America (in my humble opinion) has at least one "white sheep." Nate Phelps, estranged son of Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist Church infamy), is an advocate of gay and lesbian rights, which must drive Daddy Freddy crazy...if it's even possible for Daddy Freddy to be any crazier than he already is.
A high school senior who happens to be one of the co-chairs of Clayton (Missouri) High School's Gay Straight Alliance contacted Nate Phelps via Facebook and arranged for him to tell his story at the school last week. The younger Phelps' talk was well received, with many of the students holding back tears as they listened to his account of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. According to Nate, his father Fred "...not only was this violent, cruel and insensitive person with other humans but he insisted that we be that way." Fred Phelps' cruel tactics seem to have worked with most of his 13 children, but Nate and a few of his siblings did manage to escape. As Noam Kantor said after Nate's presentation in Missouri, "I really think it spreads a message of hope that people in these groups aren't necessarily in it for life."
And it gives me hope to hear about gay kids forming clubs in Missouri high schools! Some day in the not-too-distant future, we'll look back and wonder why atheist teens were given such a hard time when they wanted clubs of their own.
3/18/2011: Edited to add that Nate Phelps blogs at http://n8rphelps.blogspot.com. Thanks for the link, Prosey!