A lesbian couple in Fox Point, Illinois had their rainbow pride flag stolen earlier this month, and their neighbours responded by flying their own pride flags in solidarity.
Casey Handal and Zadette Rosado noticed their rainbow flag, which normally flew from a flagpole in their backyard, had been replaced by an American flag on 9 December, according to the Chicago Tribune (via PinkNews).
“I think the message was quite clear,” Handal told the Chicago Tribune.
“It was sort of the intolerant view vs. the inclusive liberal view. I think if somebody would have just taken the flag and not replaced it with anything, that wouldn’t necessarily have sent quite the same message. It’s more premeditated this way.”
Handal and Rosado moved to the neighbourhood with their two daughters back in May. The house came with a flagpole in the backyard, so they chose to fly a pride flag from it.
“It was just there to represent our family,” Handal said.
“The girls loved it, and not just because it’s pretty. Every time they’d have a friend come over they’d be like, ‘Hey, look at our flag. Isn’t it cool?’”
Handal reported the theft to the police, and took to community social networking site Nextdoor to ask if anyone had seen the culprit. There she was met with overwhelming support from her neighbours insisting the theft wasn’t representative of Fox Point.
Kimberley Filian, a high school social worker, took things a step further and announced she’d ordered four dozen small rainbow flags for herself and other neighbour to display, to show their support.
Dozens of neighbours are now proudly displaying the flags outside their homes, planting them in their lawns, tucking them into mailboxes, and even incorporating them into their Christmas decorations.
“I’m so sick of all this hate,” said Filian in an interview.
“I just feel inundated in the media and everywhere I look, all those terrible stories. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I felt like it was one thing I could do to show support — just something little.”
But the support for the couple and their two daughters didn’t stop there, with several dozen people volunteering to act as secret Santas for the family, vowing to drop off small gifts at their home until New Year’s Eve, the day Handal and Rosado plan to marry.
“Especially in the climate we’re in, it just shows there are a lot of people who have a lot of love in their hearts,” said Kristin Cannon, a neighbour and friend of the couple.
“That love is bigger than the discrimination against a family like theirs.”
“The fact that this story might make someone smile, maybe it’s not so bad, and maybe the hate we see so much is not the mass of people but individuals,” said Handal.
“I think it makes it all worth it if this crummy thing that happened can lead to spreading more joy and happiness in the world.”