SALT LAKE CITY – June is Pride Month. Every Pride Month, rainbow flags are displayed at homes to show solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. Every year, some flags will be stolen or vandalized. One nonprofit staked 5,500 flags at homes across northern Utah and expects to lose 10 percent of them to theft and vandalization.
Pride flags line both sides of the street in one northern Utah neighborhood. All the flags on this street belong to the nonprofit organization Project Rainbow. “We raise money for the community by staking rainbow and trans flags in people’s yards,” Project Rainbow Director Lucas Horns said.
During Pride, Project Rainbow rents the flags to those who request them. In June, the organization stakes flags in northern Utah. In September, the organization moves its efforts to southern Utah.
“For our participants to be signing up for these flags in communities all over northern Utah and show that queer people and allies to queer people really do exist in every corner of the state, is really life-changing for a lot of these youth and people who live in these communities who might otherwise feel isolated,” Horns stated.
According to Horns, Project Rainbow plans on losing about 10 percent of the flags the organization stakes to either theft or vandalism. Horns told ABC4 it is always sad when a flag is vandalized. However, he said support continues to outgrow opposition in Utah.
“Every time we stake our flags, we get hundreds of people joining our mailing list because they see our flags,” he added. The organization began staking flags in 2018. That year volunteers staked around 500 flags. This year, residents in northern Utah requested 5,500.
Those who request a flag essentially rent the flag. That money is then used for grants that support other LGBTQIA+ projects in Utah.
During Pride Month, Utah police urge residents to respect the First Amendment rights of those displaying pride flags by leaving them be regardless of one’s personal beliefs or feelings.
According to the Kaysville Police Department, vandalism and thefts of pride flags have risen in recent years. In a statement, the department said:
“A big part of what makes America great is our constitutional rights and we hope that in Kaysville everyone is able to safely express their First Amendment rights.”
While this happens more often than one may think, Horns told ABC4 it often leads to people in surrounding homes getting involved. He added, “Every time it happens, people want to be involved more because they realize that need is there.”
He said neighbors often go out and get their own rainbow flags to show solidarity with the neighbor who was the victim of the theft or vandalism as well as the greater community.
With a couple weeks left in June, the Kaysville Police Department encourages everyone to be respectful to those showing their pride saying:
“While some may view pride and (the) LGBTG (community) from a religious or political lens, we hope that everyone in Kaysville can and will respect each other’s right(s) regardless of their personal feelings and opinions on this matter.”
To those who’ve had a pride flag stolen or vandalized, the Kaysville Police Department encourages you to report the crime to your local police department. The Kaysville PD phone number is (801) 546-1131.