Expect to see more LGBTQ and Pride flags lining the streets of Southern California when Pride Month begins Thursday – just not at City Hall in Redlands.
In a 3-2 vote in early May, councilmembers in this San Bernardino County city opted not to fly a Pride Flag this year, marking a departure from previous years.
“To roll this back, especially after flying it for the past two years, sends a horrifying message to the community,” one woman argued during a contentious council meeting.
As it turned out, flying the rainbow flag, or any non-official flag, violated the city’s longstanding flag policy.
The Redlands City Council was being asked to amend the policy ahead of Pride Month.
“It’s amazing. The people who claim that they’re being discriminated … accuse us of being a bigot if we don’t go along with something. Shame on you,” Mayor Pro Tem Paul Barich argued in casting his no vote.
Redlands Mayor Eddie Tejeda was met with chants of “coward” when he announced he had a change of heart.
“It is my opinion that if we adopt changes to our flag policy, that we do so at our own risk … In this case, it will demonstrate favor of one group over others,” Tejeda said. “For these reasons, I will change my vote and not support changing our flag policy.”
The city’s first queer councilmember, Denise Davis, believes the decision sends the wrong message.
“I think that those visual cues of inclusion are really important to a community that has been historically marginalized,” Davis told KTLA.
The council’s polarizing vote, however, appears to reflect the mixed opinions of Redlands community members.
“I knew that I was gay in elementary school so, for me, seeing that (flag) as a little kid, growing up here I would be like … okay, there’s a space for me,” said Redlands native Courtney Kidd.
“Just because you’re not flying a flag doesn’t mean you don’t support something,” said Tom Gawrych, whose daughter lives in Redlands. “It just might mean we don’t need it in our face.”