West Hollywood Removes Rainbow Flag from City Hall
By Melanie Nathan, January 13, 2014.
Notwithstanding the fact that over 40% of West Hollywood’s population identifies as gay or lesbian, or the fact that WEHO is an iconic LGBT neighborhood, and after much debate, the rainbow flag that sits on top of West Hollywood City Hall has been removed.
Not to mention that there are rainbow-colored crosswalks at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards. And four of the five city council members are gay men.
Yet according to the LA Times, city council members in November unanimously voted to maintain the city’s practice of displaying only the United States, California and city of West Hollywood flags on public facilities. Councilman John Duran said the city is shared by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual people and that the flag’s hanging above City Hall was inappropriate, even if the city was founded largely on gay rights.
West Hollywood “belongs to all of us,” Duran said at one meeting. “It’s not just a city of gay men. It belongs to heterosexual people as well, and City Hall belongs to everybody in this community, gay or straight, and let’s not ever give the impression that City Hall has become exclusive to only one part of the West Hollywood community.”
The LA Times notes:
West Hollywood resident Larry Block suggested the flying of the rainbow flag at a city council meeting in June. Councilman Jeffrey Prang agreed with the suggestion, saying, “There are lots of flags up there; I’m sure there’s room for one more.”
The flag was hung shortly thereafter.
Since then, it has been brought up numerous times at public meetings, with critics saying there were already numerous symbols of West Hollywood’s LGBT activism displayed, such as the rainbow crosswalks.
But Block, who donated a rainbow flag to be flown, said the flag’s removal is evidence the city is moving away from its identity as a bastion of hope for LGBT people.
And we here at OBLOGDEE say its worse than that! Now I have lived in West Hollywood and I doubt that I would have lived there had it not been for the fact that I felt I was living in a fully supportive LGBT enclave – something I needed for a while. I am not sure how I would feel about my City Council as a Gay, LGBTI person now if I lived there and they made the unanimous move to take down the symbol of Pride.
It is my fervent belief that until such time as LGBT people are fully equal in the United States of America, we deserve our poignant symbol flying alongside the other symbols that represent country, state and home, in each and every place where we have built communities sustained by LGBT marketing and representation. It is because we are marginalized and unequal that we are absolutely entitled to wave our pride. It is because we are treated differently that our representatives must put themselves out and even risk popularity amongst heterosexuals in our communities to convey our pride. Where else can we have such an opportunity to express our Pride in the same fashion? Surely the communities and neighborhoods built upon our inequality ought to support our struggle though such basic symbolic gestures. Our bastion of hope and hence the imperative place to wave our symbols. The ultimate symbol of support is when that rainbow flags waves its welcome on a City Hall.
I ask, you with tears in my eyes- around this world- today we heard of yet another Country, Nigeria, where the criminality of sexuality with the harshest of criminal punishment was signed into law. How shameful West Hollywood that you would sacrifice that hope today – the hope that those criminalized look to when they see Rainbow flags waving on City Halls… SHAME ON YOU WEST HOLLYWOOD.
AND P.S. I just cancelled my reservation in a WEHO hotel for my trip to LA on Thursday, I may as well stay in Santa Monica!