The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has effectively
roused public anger for its pickets of military funerals, sites of
national tragedy, and LGBTQ+ cultural events. Counterprotests,
some mournful and some festive, are sites where scholars can
investigate the ambivalence of public response to homophobia.
This article draws from ethnographic observations of 107 WBC
pickets and interviews with 183 counterprotesters to create a profile
of a typical large counterprotest of WBC. The article then considers
how the comic, tragic, and burlesque frames of Kenneth
Burke can be applied to analyze counterprotest activity, illuminating
how WBC is used by communities as a foil for their own
hurtful treatment of vulnerable members. Finally, it argues, based
on observation of counterprotests and consulting work with organizations
planning counterprotests, for the adoption of the comic
frame, not for the good of WBC but for the good of communities
seeking better care of targets of homophobia.