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When conservatives protested a gay student, his community stood up for him. Big time.

When conservatives protested a gay student, his community stood up for him. Big time.
When Westboro came to protest Jake Bain, John Burroughs School students rallied to support him. Photo: @JBSchool

Turns out the game wasn’t even close.

Jake Bain, the out high-school football player in St. Louis, got some strong support Monday when Westboro Baptist Church protestors showed up at his school.

So strong that the score would have overwhelmed the football scoreboard – Westboro’s 11 protestors vs. several hundred for Jake and the home team.

“This so much bigger than me,” Bain told NPR’s Jeremy Hobson on Here and Now. “There’s just so many people out there that are going through the same things that I’m going through. So I just hope that a light is kind of shed on the entire community, especially the youth.”

Bain, a senior at John Burroughs School, in the suburban St. Louis community of Ladue, has signed to play football next fall at Indiana State University.

Back in 2015, he was a sophomore sensation at running back, with three touchdowns in the state title game. He started coming out to friends before his junior year, and he came out to family in summer 2016.

As his news of personal journey spread, the national spotlight has bore down on him. Yet he’s shouldered the responsibility as a role model to LGBTQ youth. From high-school football to the school’s Spectrum club to pride night for the St. Louis Blues professional hockey team, Bain has shared his story and encouraged others.

When they heard the news that Westboro was on its way, Bain’s schoolmates at John Burroughs organized their counter protest. That morning, at an assembly before the protest, the school shared heartwarming videos of support from a number of its alumni. (Go to 0:54 on the NPR audio.)

Bain said the support has inspired him.

“I think I’ve been able to kind of leave a legacy of just the fact that anything’s possible,” he told NPR. “You can build your own path.”

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