A British Columbia neighbourhood has rallied around its LGBTQ community members and filled its streets with rainbows after the town mistakenly took down a Pride flag last week.
Lisa Ebenal lives in Aldergrove near Langley, B.C., a small town east of Vancouver. She says she displayed the original flag on her property as a way to celebrate Pride Month.
“I mean, like everyone else I have friends and family that are part of the LGBTQ community,” she told HuffPost. “So I thought that would be a nice way to show my support as an ally.”
She draped the flag over a sign on her property with the neighbourhood’s name on it. But the next day, the flag went missing. Ebenal says she assumed some kids had pulled it down, so she promptly bought another one and hung it in its place. That one went missing as well.
Malcolm Dailly lives next door to Ebenal. Dailly — who is gay and lives in the neighbourhood with his partner — says he saw a Township of Langley truck in the area and guessed that they had taken the flag down. After a few calls to the town, Dailly says the road manager of the township told him the flag had been taken down in error.
“Somebody took it upon themselves to phone the Township of Langley and complain that they found the flag offensive,” Dailly told HuffPost. “And I found it to be an attack on me personally, to say this was offensive.”
In a statement, the Township of Langley confirmed they received a complaint about a flag covering a public sign. However, upon confirming that the flag was on Ebenal’s private property, they promptly returned it.
“The Township regrets the distress our confusion may have caused to the residents and neighbours and going forward will remind crews to check property locations of signs prior to taking action,” the statement read.
Once the original flag was returned, Ebenal says the neighbourhood came together not only to support Dailly and his partner Alan Baker, but the LGBTQ community as a whole.
“The rest of the neighbours really rallied around Malcolm and Alan, and decided they were going to all put up the same flag,” Ebenal said.
Since the weekend, the neighbourhood in Aldergrove has become a rainbow haven, as similar flags have popped up in windows and been draped across porches. Dailly says neighbours have repeatedly stopped by his house to share their support.
“Oh my god, these people are wonderful,” Dailly said. “They came to the door and said, ‘Malcolm, we love you guys, you’re part of our community.’”
Not everyone has been 100 per cent supportive though. One neighbour told Global News that she disagrees with flying the Pride flag.
“It represents the gay community as man with man or woman with woman. I don’t believe that’s right. I know it’s not right. It should be man and woman [who] should be married, the opposite sex. Not the same sex,” she said.
However, after her statements appeared on local television, Dailly says the neighbour came to his doorstep to apologize.
“She apologized so many times to me and said she’s very sorry and asked me for forgiveness,” Dailly said. “ My words to her were ‘I don’t expect you to understand my lifestyle, but respect me as a law-abiding tax-paying citizen, which I am, that adds to this community’.”
Ebenal says that ultimately, the positive messaging of the rainbow-draped community outweighs any naysayers.
“There might be one or two people [opposed], but you’ve got the support of the whole rest of the neighbourhood behind you,” she said.