Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rainbow Flag: "It's ruined the city" of Meade, but then again, maybe not

The Wichita Eagle has a nice overview today of the battle in the southwestern Kansas town of Meade over flying a rainbow flag.

In This Moment previously reported on the controversy over the Lakeway Hotel's flag here and here and here, among other places.

The Lakeway is owned by a heterosexual couple, JR and Robin Knight, who first flew the flag because it was a gift from their 12-year-old son. The flag was meant to be a symbol of Kansas being over the rainbow. However, they decided to keep flying a rainbow flag in solidarity with lesbians and gays after the first flag was cut down and a brick with threats inked on it was thrown through their window.

The Eagle's story seems fair and does a good job of highlighting some of the prejudice lesbians and gays face. The only thing I'd quibble with in the story is the size of the town. (This is a real nitpick.) The population estimates I saw for 2005 set the population at 1,600 not "near 2000."

The quotes in the story are classic. Somehow the very existence of a symbol of fair laws and equal rights can ruin a city. Of course, there's the ever popular idea that queers are OK as long as we don't "push it" (i.e. be ourselves and as open as any heterosexual). The comment section of the online story also highlights some "interesting" ideas, but more on that at the bottom of this post.

The Eagle reports:
"I don't go for it," lifelong Meade resident Bob Mabery, 73, said Monday, sipping coffee. "It's ruined the city of Meade."

Meade, he said, was a "respectful little town, but this has practically destroyed it."

When asked how a flag has destroyed a town, Mabery said it's just gotten everybody's ire up.

For a while he was so upset he quit going to the Chuck Wagon Restaurant for his coffee.

"No one's going to go around that place," Mabery said of the Lakeway. But he doesn't hate gay people, he quickly added.

"I guess I'm just one who thinks it belongs in the closet."
Sitting at a table near him, Beverly Bennett said she's not upset about the flag so much as she is about JR Knight coming into town with his "California ways."

"He bellyaches about a lot of stuff" at City Council meetings, she said.

The flag issue isn't the real problem, she said. It's the Knights' attitude.

"I've known some gay people, and they don't bother me a bit as long as they don't push it on me," she said.
Officials from the state's largest gay rights group, Kansas Equality Coalition, say these attitudes are a problem, but that not everyone in the area agrees with them.
Anne Mitchell, the coalition's southwest Kansas representative, said her job takes her to Meade a couple of times a month, and she's found most of the townspeople to be "hardworking, caring and decent folks."

"I just feel like it (the flag flap) is the isolated actions of a few people who got fired up and are acting out," she said.
One of the most fascinating bits of the story is in the online comment section. One poster noted:
This has opened up a whole new can of worms. Too many freedoms in our country... everything is allowable.
Flying a flag is horrible? Gosh, what will we think of next!

1 comment:

Ben said...

I am trying to get in touch with Mr. tery Fox. Would you know by any chance where I can contact him ??

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