Let’s end the year with a favorite story of mine … a brand new story, at that.
Last spring, out there in Irvine, California, not the most progressive area in that state, Dr. Mary Pham decided to show her support for the LGBT community, and marriage equality, by raising a rainbow flag featuring intertwining wedding rings.
Not a big deal, you know, just a little something called Freedom of Speech, but it turned out to be a huge deal among her many anti-LGBT, anti-equality neighbors.
Pham first flew the flag following a ceremony with friends in June, and it became a prominent feature, drawing almost immediate attention, though not the kind Pham had hoped.
Many neighbors began complaining about the flag to the neighborhood's property-management company, PowerStone Property Management, and one of Pham’s friends also offered a warning:
“Not in Irvine, Mary.”
By July, Pham was told that many e-mail complaints had been sent to her Home Owners Association, with one such complainant referring to the flag as the "Fag Flag" before adding:
“Is the GAY PRIDE [in large font and rainbow colors] display protected by free speech rights? The Orange Tree Patio Homes neighbors are shaking their heads in disgust. Sexuality is private, and [this] display is very, very public. It's even visible from the tennis courts.”
Egads! The snobs at the club can see a rainbow flag!!!!
“[The residents]...have had their 'gay pride' flag up for six to eight weeks. The flag has two wedding rings interlocked and many rainbow-colored stripes. It is an eyesore. In my opinion, it is okay to feel strongely [sic] about a cause. But to leave their 'political statement' up for this long is ridiculous, and I am offended. Most people do not choose the gay lifestyle, and personally, it irritates me to have to be reminded every day of two men having sex with each other. It's not a fun thing to look at as I come and go every day. If someone left their sign up regarding an election for more than a week or two, it would get very old and be an eyesore.”
Wait, so when this one sees a rainbow she, or maybe it’s a he, pictures The Gay Sex? Maybe the flag is the least of his or her problems.
After a few more complaints, community manager Amanda McGinley replied to one of the e-mails:
“We have not had any calls yet about the flag on the home ... But I did see it on the property inspection and contacted legal counsel to see if the HOA can do anything about it. Civil Code does provide protection for homeowners to put up flags, banners and noncommercial signs, and the Association can do nothing to prohibit it. I have a feeling that this will not last long, but I could be wrong.”
She was wrong. Mary Pham continued to fly the flag though she became concerned about what might happen because of it. Upon the advice of the executive director of her local LGBT center, Pham filed a police report, just in case.
Then, the neighbor reactions became more hostile. A Westboro Baptist Church flyer was printed out and left at her door, and a flyer was left on her windshield that said:
"GOD HATES FLAGS."
Pham's resolve became all the more hardened:
“Before, it was just a flag. Now, I’m going to fight back.”
And so she did, at Christmas, like this:
It was a very gay Christmas in Pham's neighborhood, you know, and there was a damned thing her homophobic hater neighbors could do about it.
Well, except for that one who spent the entire holiday thinking about men doing it.
And, on that note: Happy New Year everybody!