When Leo first came out as transgender, I wanted to fly a rainbow flag off our house. Our oldest, Ember, who is non-binary and bisexual, didn’t identify as transgender at the time. To properly respect both of my children, the rainbow flag was the best choice.
What kept me from purchasing and flying a rainbow flag in 2016 was fear.
We live in a small, conservative town in a mostly conservative state. The most welcoming and affirming places in our area are in Keene, a college town about 10 miles to the north. My house is in a very public location in our town. No other pride flags flew from any other houses in 2016.
For the whole first year, I thought about it.
I thought about which door I would fly a rainbow flag from. I wanted it to be most visible to other LGBTQ+ people in my town. High school kids wait for the bus in the morning within line of sight of my back door. The elementary school is at the end of the street I live at the start of. Most parents turn down past my house to get there. If I hung the flag from the front door, all the parents and kids would see it. If I hung it by the backdoor, most of the younger kids and parents would see it. But all the older kids would see it.
The flag is visible to all the traffic going north through my town if they choose to notice. Perhaps a child or teenager who isn’t accepted in their home would drive through and feel seen. Maybe they would feel supported by my flag. That for a brief moment, they would feel loved and supported.
For most of the second year, I talked about it.
I spent most of that time talking about it with my therapist. Flying a rainbow flag puts a target on your house. As the victim of criminal harassment the previous year, she had a lot of concerns. I had a lot of her same concerns. We discussed how I would handle threats. What would happen if someone took action stronger than a threat.
We talked about a plan; what I would do if the possibility of threats became a reality. It was similar to the plan we had created while I was being harassed. I felt sick thinking about it. I didn’t want a show of support for my children to bring me back to that dark place. It occurred to me that my children live in fear every day. I could fly a rainbow flag in solidarity.
Then I talked to my husband—the man who I regularly underestimate. The one who I thought might have an issue with it, being a conservative republican. His love for his children is bigger than his political affiliation. I hadn’t even finished asking the question when he answered, “Of course we can.” I ordered it that afternoon. It took 10 weeks to arrive due to being back-ordered, and we hung it the next day. It was spring 2018.
Three years later, four rainbow flags are hanging in my town. One arrived in late 2019. The other two showed up during 2020. There may be more than I don’t know of, but the other three are visible as I travel about. Sometimes it requires one person to go first for others to feel safe enough to follow.
You don’t have to fly a rainbow flag to prove that you’re an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. It’s your personal choice.
You have to weigh the risk because there is one and decide if it’s worth it for you and your family. If it’s not safe for you to put a pride flag on your house, don’t. There are other ways to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community. Other ways to love and support your own children.
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