Thursday, June 16, 2016

Harvey Milk Plaza Rainbow Flag: Full-Mast; Gay Bar: Half-Mast

This video was shot around 4:30 pm today in San Francisco's Castro district, showing the rainbow flag controlled by the Castro Merchants and Scott Wiener flying as it normally does and not reflecting the world's grief over the Orlando massacre.

A block away, the Lookout Bar had its rainbow flag positioned at half-mast, as requested by President Obama.

Here is a beautiful letter from longtime Castro resident and business Isak Lindenauer, who is not a member of the merchants group, that appeared in the Bay Area Reporter today. Thanks, Isak, for your words that sum up much of how I and others feel about the flag and those who control it:

"Many who were grief-stricken over this week's anti-gay violence in Orlando called on Castro Merchants and the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District to see to it that the rainbow flag at Castro and Market be lowered out of respect for the loss of so many LGBTQ folk.

"Quite surprisingly, the flag was unceremoniously lowered and a smaller rainbow flag flew quietly at half-mast Sunday. Castro Merchants finally got it right. The flag and the decision to lower it to honor those who have been lost in the ongoing struggle for our rights has been embroiled in controversy for a number of years now with ownership and all decisions around its use being decided by the merchants' organization, which cares for it.

"Many of us have argued that the flag belongs to the people: not to Gilbert Baker, who designed it and will always have recognition for that inspired act, nor to the merchants who pay for its upkeep, nor to anyone else. Rather it belongs to LGBTQ people everywhere.

"It has been transformed into a symbol of the freedom of a people.

"Then on Tuesday the merchants recanted their decision and took down the half-mast flag. They proclaimed on their Facebook page that the flag will always fly as a symbol of our undying, "unvanquishable" pride. Once again they got it terribly wrong. Flying the flag forever and regardless is not pride; it is hubris. It is casting a blind eye on the vicissitudes of life.

"It asserts they know more than the rest of the world and how most all other flags in it serve: Part of the just and proper use of a flag is its lowering in honor of the fallen-a single committed individual who has served the public or a group who have lost their lives in the service of freedom's eternal stand in the face of hatred.  "What will it take to open the eyes of this organization that holds the people's flag captive? At this terrible juncture, for LGBTQ people in particular, there is still no clear answer.

"God bless those who died and those who are injured and bring comfort to their friends and families." Watch this short video:


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