Earlier this month, Casey Handal, a lesbian resident of Barrington, Illinois, discovered that someone had stolen the rainbow flag hanging outside of her family’s home and replaced it with an American flag.
Her kids thought that whoever stole the flag must’ve liked its pretty colors, but Hadal shared had to have a difficult conversation with them about what had actually happened.
Handal felt that whoever stole her flag saw it as un-American, and its replacement made her feel unsafe in her own community. She was especially concerned because of the anti-LGBTQ political climate under the Trump administration and the fact hate crimes against LGBTQ people have been increasing since his election.
On a neighborhood website, Handal asked anyone with information about the incident to speak with her. She didn’t want to press charges, she said, she just wanted to speak with the person responsible.
Unexpectedly, a neighbor named Kim Filian announced her intention to fly a rainbow flag from her own home in a show of solidarity. Filian said she had purchased other rainbow flags and would happily give one to any neighbors who wanted one.
Soon after, Handal and her partner Zadette Rosado saw rainbow flags displayed throughout their community: on neighbor’s porches, mailboxes and lawns. Rosado said that the display of solidarity helped calm her and was especially sweet considering that the couple plans on marrying next week.
This isn’t the first time that rainbow flags have bene the focus on unrest and protest in an American neighborhood.
Last February, a homophobe dumped a dead cow in the lawn of a Tennessee woman who flew a rainbow flag from her home. And a year ago, DC-area neighbors hung rainbow flags on the houses surrounding the residence of anti-gay Vice President Mike Pence.