I moved to Orange County in 1976.
I built a little bookstore in Cannery Village.
It was the time of John Briggs and Prop 6 (the state proposition to not allow gays to teach)
It was the time of the shooting of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone
At that time there were very few places where gay people knew they were safe.
Gay bookstores, Gay Bars and Gay only AA meetings.
These were the places to share lives, to speak openly, party privately.
You knew you would not be bullied.
You knew you would not be at risk.
They often had unmarked doors to keep their location secret.
In 1983-4 I was the Director of the Orange County Free Clinic which was here in Anaheim.
We served gay people without question.
In the 70s a young soldier from Kansas, while stationed in San Francisco, became friends with Harvey Milk. He learned to sew and worked at the Paramount Flag Co. Harvey asked him to design a flag for Gay Pride. It is suspected that flag maker, Gilbert Baker drew on the Wizard of Oz, Over the Rainbow as Judy Garland had just died. Gilbert designed the striped flag we know today.
What happens to me when I see a rainbow flag?
My shoulders relax, I can breathe better, I see that there are compassionate people who are waving a message of unity and love.
I have one flying on my house.
When I see the rainbow flag in a civic setting, I know that the city leadership recognizes that this segment of society is at a particular risk and deserves a special symbol of welcome and celebration.
On Sunday June 12,
49 of my children were murdered
They were your children
They were children of God
They were murdered because of who they loved.
They were dancing, I would guess a lot better then you or me.
But more importantly, they were in a safe space where they shake their tail feather, shimmy like their sister Kate, salsa like Ricky Martin, and just be themselves.
Raising the rainbow flag means you see them.
You have empathy. AND you have PRIDE.
Maybe you don’t know but we have ways of signaling safety.
When I see a civic space with Rainbow flags, I know that city values my safety.
I welcome you to feel this PRIDE with me.
Fly the Rainbow Flag
49 Angels will be proud.