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A Big, Bright Response to Anti-Gay Bigots

7

by thepleasurechest

same love letter 1When Dr. Pham took her pride flag down briefly, intending to replace it with another rainbow flag, she received this letter.

When Dr. Pham took her pride flag down briefly, intending to replace it with another rainbow flag, she received this letter.

 

In April, Dr. Mary Pham decided to fly a pride flag from the top of her Irvine, California home. Many of her neighbors had flags hanging from their homes – seasonal flags, or flags celebrating a favorite sport – and she decided that she wanted to hang a flag to show her support for LGBT folks.

“Not in Irvine, Mary,” a friend warned her. She laughed it off.

“Look, either you know what it is or you don’t,” she decided. “Either it’s a pride flag, or it’s just a rainbow flag. And if it’s a pride flag, and you notice, either you like it or you hate it. And if you hate it then you’re just a jerk.”

Deciding that “if there’s any reason to eat, drink and have a party, why not?” she and her friend Ramon invited several friends over for brunch and a “flag-hanging ceremony.”

In July, she was told that people had been writing angry emails to her HOA about the flag. When she saw them, she was taken aback by the hateful language she saw. One of them referred to the flag as a “Fag Flag.”

“Is the GAY PRIDE [in large font and rainbow colors] display protected by free speech rights?” its author asked. “The Orange Tree Patio Homes neighbors are shaking their heads in disgust.”

Another email offered this confusing sentiment: “Most people do not choose the gay lifestyle, and personally it irritates me to have to be reminded everyday of two men having sex with each other.”

While no one was being openly hostile to her, Dr. Pham started to feel nervous about the negative attention the flag was receiving. She contacted The Center OC, her local LGBT center, and asked their executive director, Kevin S. O’Grady, for advice. At his insistence, she filed a police report, just in case.

The negative responses didn’t stop with the police report. Someone printed out a press release from the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church and left it at her door. One morning, she found a flyer on her windshield that said only “GOD HATES FLAGS.”

In December, she was interviewed for a piece in the OC Weekly about the angry responses to her flag. When she read some of the “mean and hateful” comments that people had left about the article, she decided to throw caution to the wind.

“Before, it was just a flag. Now, I’m going to fight back.”

She and her son, Russell, discussed what they could do to make an even bigger statement – without violating HOA restrictions, of course. Finally, they agreed on something:

pride house

After all, she’s allowed to put lights up for holidays.

Dr. Pham sees this experience as an incentive to get seriously involved in LGBT activism. She and Kevin S. O’Grady have already sat down to discuss how to make Irvine a more LGBT-friendly place.

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