Pink Humanist editor BARRY DUKE reports

THE man pictured above is Paul Dorr, a Christian extremist living in Ohio and an ardent devotee of Donald Trump. A few weeks back he inadvertently boosted the stock of gay-themed books at a his local library by posting a video on YouTube which showed him burning four LGBT+ titles belonging to the library to protest a Pride event in Orange County in October.

The stunt could not have backfired more spectacularly.

First, the police began a so-far inconclusive investigation into his vandalism. Second, in the face of collective fury on social media, Dorr was forced to remove the video, and went very quiet, refusing to speak to the media. Third, and most humiliating for the bearded bigot, was that the Orange City Public Library was gifted more than 200 books to replace the four he destroyed!

The man responsible for getting the new titles into the library was Justin Scott, a member and State Director for the American Atheists Iowa chapter. He began a Facebook fundraiser as soon as he viewed the video. When asked why, he said it was a “knee-jerk reaction” to the hate he saw on the screen.

Scott raised over $1,600 in a few short days. After he crossed the target amount, the library then urged him to do the same for other groups. So he requested donors to gift money to LGBTQ organisations and to other local libraries. He also gave money to Orange County Pride, the same group specifically targeted by Dorr. The organisation witnessed a jump in donations soon after. At the time of my writing this, Scott had raised over $2,000.

One notable contributor was James Peron, President of the Moorfield Storey Institute, a libertarian think-tank. The latter said he had shipped a total of 20 DVDs and LGBT+ books to the library and also collected hundreds of dollars via a GoFundMe appeal. Peron said: “Dorr says he will not pay for the books he destroyed. Our group, the Storey Institute has access to a few hundred LGBT titles in brand new condition. We’d like to replace the books destroyed with dozens of free books to replace the ones vandalised. We will supply a minimum of 50 brand new books and DVDs to the library, shipping included. If we go over our goal we will send similar donations to other libraries.”

Earlier this year the power of social media to combat homophobia was demonstrated when a fundraiser was started to raise $20,000 for a Florida teen – Seth Owen – who was made homeless after refusing his parents’ demands to continue with his “gay cure” therapy at a local church. He’d had a year of “conversion therapy” before kicking over the traces and saying: “Enough is enough!”

Seth Owen via GoFundMe

Getting disowned by his parents meant that Owen wouldn’t receive money from them to attend Georgetown University in the autumn. Upon learning of Owen’s plight, one of his teachers created a fundraising page in June, and within weeks a staggering $141,619.00 was raised for his tuition fees.

Even better news was to follow: Georgetown University decided to offer Owen a full scholarship at no cost whatsoever.
Now, the 18-year-old said he has plans to use the funds raised via a GoFundMe page to cover additional expenses he may have while attending the prestigious Washington, DC, school, in addition to using it to start a scholarship fund for other students.

“At the moment, I am in process of exploring the establishment of a scholarship to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year,” Owen said. “I am looking forward to utilising the resources of Georgetown to help with this effort.”