Monica Roberts

It's Our Flag, Too. Use It!

Filed By Monica Roberts | June 23, 2008 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: civil rights movement, LGBT, Monica Roberts, Northeast transgender pride march and rally, patriotism, pride month, transgender

One of the things I have consistently griped about is American Flag flying.jpgthe lack of American flags at GLBT community events. It would have been more appropriate to post this on Flag Day (June 14), but I was still gathering my thoughts together on this topic and dealing with other issues.

I was reminded of this yet again at the recent June 7 NE Transgender Pride March and Rally. Considering they organized it in just nine months, they covered a lot of ground and did it well. The organization of this event was first class. There was an RV on the side of the stage acting as a green room with bottled water, sport drinks and snacks for us to partake in before and after we went on stage. The event site had ample parking. The march had a police escort and even had a rainbow flag decorating the stage.

But not an American one.

I pointed out that omission to the organizers when I arrived at the site that morning, but acquiring one got lost in the last minute scramble to set up the site for the 700 plus people that later appeared there.

This is a recurring problem I've observed within the GLBT community across the country, and not just with my gracious Western Massachusetts hosts, so please don't get it twisted.

If we are going to win the war for our civil rights, we have to take away the ridiculously deceptive Religious Reich arguments that we transpeople "aren't Americans" (or whatever country you're living in) and transgender rights are "special rights."

We have to repeatedly make the case in order to blow up these right-wing Big Lies that we are Americans who deserve and demand the same civil rights coverage that you enjoy, it's immorally wrong to deny us those rights, and we want it now.

The easiest way to remind the Faux News watching masses that we are Americans is to wave the Stars and Stripes in their face. From this day forward, every time we have a protest, pride event, Trans 101 education event, conference or a march, we need to have Old Glory front and center. If we do television media interviews, we need to be wearing American flag lapel pins when doing so.

And we need to do it now.

I realize that some of you may have antipathy toward the flag for personal, political, philosophical or other reasons. Well, get over it. If you want your constitutional rights in the next five years, you'll take what I have to say seriously and run to your nearest hardware store to buy a flag. After you do that, bone up on the rules for properly displaying it.

As long as we are living inside the borders of the United States, Canada, or whatever country we happen to be born in, there are certain culturally significant values wrapped up in the flags of the nations of the world. They take on meanings for the residents of those countries far beyond being simple pieces of cloth.

Yes, I try to live the values that others only disingenuously lecture about and don't need a US flag bumper sticker on my car to say that. My actions do.

However, when you are talking about a political movement that is fighting to have their constitutional rights respected and not trampled on by the tyranny of the majority, symbols matter.

It's also important to note that when you peruse US history and the history of reform or civil rights movements, no civil rights movement to date trying to win rights for a minority group has done so without having the flag prominently displayed at all its events. If the GLBT rights movement wants to win, they will eventually have to do so as well.

60's civil rights marchers.jpg
One thing you'll note in many pictures of Civil Rights Movement events and marches is the presence of Old Glory somewhere in the picture. Even Woodstock and the 60's anti Vietnam war protesters had American flags present in addition to the modified one with the peace symbol on it.

The immigration rights movement has quickly learned this lesson. After getting savagely criticized for conducting marches that had the flags of their native countries prominently displayed but not the one of the country they are currently residing in, or if they did display a US flag it was done incorrectly, now have American flags prominently displayed at every event they conduct.

By displaying the flag at our events, and I'm not talking about that rainbow adaptation of it, it sends the message that we are proud, patriotic Americans who love this country.

Yes, by all means, use the rainbow adaptation flag, but make certain that a red, white and blue one is carried or displayed on site at the same time as well right next to it.

The United States flag is not the private property of the Republican Party, the Religious Right, or the conservative movement. Transgender vets and TAVA members put their lives on the line in several wars and honorably served our country defending the flag. We need to honor them and ourselves by claiming what is rightfully ours by dint of birth inside the borders of the USA (or to American parents outside its borders).

That's our flag, too! Use it, and do it proudly. Nothing will piss off the Forces of Intolerance more than to erase another of their Big Lies about transgender people by waving the flag and holding it aloft at every opportunity.


Crossposted from TransGriot


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I think something that the author is neglecting to remember (generational issues?) is that many young people (16-25ish) do not feel a whole lot of "pride" in our country. We were raised in a very different time, with extremely different ideas about "patriotism." Something to keep in mind.

One of the things I have consistently griped about is the lack of American flags at GLBT community events.

You lost me at hello.

Kourt, I think you may be right about the generational issue, but I am not so sure patriotism is treated differently now than it was, say 30 years ago. In the post-Vietnam era patriotism was uncool.

Growing up in the 70s, I was very annoyed with the way conservatives and some churches wrapped themselves in the flag. My attitude, in response, was to reject the use of the flag. It was my way of distancing myself from "them".

But that only gave conservatives and the religious right want they want. They want to push us out of America. We need to embrace the flag, because it represents all of us - not just the narrow range of people approved by the Right.

We can't just give them such an important symbol. We need to take back the flag.

beergoggles | June 23, 2008 10:23 PM

Monica has a valid point.

If you don't believe in patriotism cheap nationalism, at least view it as taking the flag back from the fundies and bigots who're trying to hog it. And if anyone asks you about it, instead of saying "as American as apple pie", try saying "as American as equality for gays" - just to see some fundie's head explode.

I grew up on the 70s as well, and I felt (and still do) one of the biggest mistakes the progressive movement made was backing away from the flag while conservatives wrapped themselves in it. We should have never allowed that to happen.

I agree with Monica Roberts. We have to embrace the Flag because the moment we turn our backs on it, we will have given the Religious Right another weapon to beat us over the head with.

The Atlanta Pride always had and always will have the American Flag, front and center.

Our transgender veterans understand this issue and in spite of all of our internal strife and philosophical difference, the one thing our veterans will agree on is that we are all proud of the Flag, and to have served this country. Thank you, Monica for bringing this issue up so close to the 4th of July.

Monica, it was well worth the wait to read this expanded and informative version of your gripe about the lack of use of the US flag by LGBTQs at public functions.

While the world fights for equal rights in our larger community, we Americans are extremely fortunate to be legally right in our demands for equality under our US Constitution; hence we should display our citizenship by waving our country's flag.

And I love the idea of waving it in the faces of those who consider themselves righteous 'Mericans by denying some of us other Americans equal rights and liberties.

By the way, you're just in time for Rainbow Flag Day the 25th of June.

We need to embrace the flag, because it represents all of us.

I think this is the fundamental issue that makes tolerating, let alone embracing, the flag an issue for me. I see it as a fundamental fact that the flag does NOT and has NOT represented all of us. Perhaps the flag OUGHT to represent all of us, but it pretty clearly doesn't.

the moment we turn our backs on it, we will have given the Religious Right another weapon to beat us over the head with.

Blame it on the the progressive movements who turned their backs on the flag if you wish, but my entire life the flag has been used as a weapon to beat me over the head. Learning the history of genocide, slavery, and conquest that has been perpetrated in the name of that symbol is daunting. Not to mention the "bible thumping flag waving lunatics" who sought to destroy my family from the moment of my conception.

I can understand how it may be strategically beneficial to have the flag present in our spaces, but I don't know how I would handle it. I could probably tolerate a flag at a protest, but if my favorite queer hangout had a huge american flag, I think it would make me feel uncomfortable going there.

Call me anti-american or anarchist if you will, but I've been beaten over the head too often to happily pick up and wrap myself in the symbol so often used to hurt me and denote just how much I don't belong -- it's triggering. I think it would be easier for my parents to identify themselves by the word "queer" than it would be for me to carry an american flag in a pride parade.

Oh, please, that's like being averse to AIDS awareness displays because of the disease's enabling of gay people's mischaracterization.

The American flag rose into existence in a particular context; no misconduct by a group of people will ever taint what it stands for.

The same self-righteousness you're bitching about is outdone by your own brand of self-righteousness.

Lucrece,

Like being averse to AIDS awareness? Really? I don't see anyone dying from a lack of flags in their life.

But regardless, please don't be so dismissive of my experience. I had thought I made myself clear. Maybe it didn't come through but I didn't write that out of self-righteousness, I wrote it out of self-doubt. I don't disagree that flags may be politically useful. But that doesn't mean that all my triggers go away.

It's just how I think it's great that there are queer Christians at pride, but when I listen to a speech full of god-language I still get a shiver down my back -- as I know many other queer folks get too. And that's something that I've spent the last eight years working on. But you still won't hear me end a speech with "God bless."

The flag is a symbol, and it might very well mean amazing goodness to you, but it doesn't mean the same thing to all people. I grew up with the flag much more associated with pain and hurtfullness than anything else.

So let me clarify again. I'm not telling you to put your flag away. I'm explaining to you why I am hesitant to start waving flags myself (and presumably a similar reason might be the basis of the pattern Monica Roberts is observing). Maybe I need to work on that. But dismissfully calling me self-righteous and bitchy is not the kind of encouragement I need. Either way, I'm not there yet.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 24, 2008 1:27 AM

I think it's a nice old flag, except for the blue and white bits.

It hasn't represented the struggle to enrich democracy in the US since the civil war. And in Iraq they might as well just fly the skull and crossbones jack.

Here's my favorite flag;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

Tobi,
If there's any folks who shold have a putrid hate of that flag, it would be Native Americans and African-Americans.

However, both groups have fought, bled and died in wars to defend that flag, held it high during protest marches, and still have it in places of honor.

Why you may ask?

Because there are people in this country and around the world who see the American flag as a symbol of hope, justice, freedom, liberty, and equality.

Yeah, we've lost our way over the last 40 years, and there are a lot of peeps who share the blame as to why we've lost our way.

But we can no longer afford as a community to allow our enemies to wrap themselves in our national symbol for their own nefarious purposes any more.

Ethan Pleshe | June 24, 2008 3:14 AM

While I agree that it is "our" flag as well. I personally feel embarrased lately to fly an American flag. Maybe I would fly the flag with another flag. I wouldn't want people to think I was by any means on the right.

While I agree that it is "our" flag as well. I personally feel embarrased lately to fly an American flag. Maybe I would fly the flag with another flag. I wouldn't want people to think I was by any means on the right.

And this quote, more than anything else, illustrates exactly why we need to start using American flags at GLBT events IMMEDIATELY.

Once again people, especially you younglings under age 25, the Stars and Stripes is NOT the private property of the Republican Party, the Religious Right, or the conservative movement.

The American Flag flies over the Martin Luther King memorial here in Atlanta. The Flag flies over the Little Big Horn Memorial. The flag flies over the Buffalo Solider Memorial in Junction City, KS. The flag flies over the Japanese Interment Memorial in DC.

The Flag flies over many places where we have African American, Native American and other minorities' memorials across the country. As Monica Roberts mentioned, if anyone should be angry with this country, it should be these groups. Yet, they are all proud of the Flag. People in our community can decided how they want to see the flag, because that is a right us veterans have secured for you.

And now it's time for a person with a few years behind them to step in. I remember a time when the flag was prominently displayed, and before each and every movie, the Star Spangled Banner was played in theaters. The time? During World War II.

I believe that it was during the Vietnam era that display of the flag ended, because it did take on other meanings. Those who respectfully displayed it, showed support for the war, and those who disrespected it opposed the war.

At a protest rally at the site of Focus on the family a couple of years ago, there was a anti-protest from a group from the Westboro Baptist church. One of their members was dragging the flag in the mud. I mentioned this to a reporter from the Denver Post, and a picture of this appeared in the next day's paper.

I served this country as a Federal employee for more than 30 years, and despite this country's many, many faults, it's still the best one out there. The flag is symbolic of a country where we still have an ability to make our case for equality. There are many countries where being
LGBT warrants a death sentence.

Patriotism should not be the private domain of those who believe in the rights for just a few of us while leaving the others behind. When we display the flag at these events, we show we also are Americans, and that we are all in our struggles together.

If there's any folks who should have a putrid hate of that flag, it would be Native Americans and African-Americans.

This is coming dangerously close to the oppression olympics. Ummm... there are lots of people who have very good reasons to view the American flag as a symbol of imperialism, oppression, capitalism, and violence. And nobody is entitled to think that more than anybody else based on some ridiculous idea that they have been more oppressed than others.

The Flag flies over many places where we have African American, Native American and other minorities' memorials across the country. As Monica Roberts mentioned, if anyone should be angry with this country, it should be these groups. Yet, they are all proud of the Flag.

So you are speaking for all American Indians and all African Americans now? I'm sorry, but I reject the idea that there are no black or native people in this country that find the American flag just as repulsive as I do. Such an argument is absurd, and it only marginalizes radical voices of dissent within those communities. Which is the exact problem I have with the assimilationist tactic flying the flag in the first place.

Like being averse to AIDS awareness? Really? I don't see anyone dying from a lack of flags in their life.

Tobi, FTW.

The flag is symbolic of a country where we still have an ability to make our case for equality.

It is symbolic of that to you, not to me. To me it is a symbol of western imperialist violence and greed, the prison industrial complex, immigrants dying in the deserts of Arizona, 100,000 iraqi deaths, etc...

Great post Monica! I wholeheartedly agree that wrapping our civil rights movement in the American flag is a great way to combat the hypocritical right's use of it to marginalize the community.

Nick,
As I mentioned in my comment, us veterans served proudly to protect your right to express your feelings and opinions on this issue. I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to death to protect your right to say it. This is what the Flag means to me.

Monica Helms,

I've got great respect for our veterans and the great burden our country asks of those who serve in the military forces, however, I want to question the assertion that I'm hearing from you that military forces are the reason why we have freedom of speech.

I've heard that assertion before and always wondered where it is coming from. Does it go back to the revolutionary war (no soldiers = no revolution = no constitution)? Or is it simply an argument of military might for governmental self preservation (no soldiers = we get invaded = no USA = no constitution)?

Because other than those two set ups, I can't imagine how that assertion works. When I think about the aspects of freedom of speech that have actually been threatened (obscenity prosecutions, restrictions on youth's speech, media rating/censorship, restrictions of sexual - and sexual minorities' - speech, restrictions on governmental criticism) I don't see military forces playing any role in those.

The many heroes I look to in history, and credit for my ability to express myself with only minor fear of legal or physical retaliation were almost exclusively activists challenging the executive branch of the government. In almost every case of governmental censorship, it is the executive branch doing the censorship.

When my partner participated in a flag burning outside of military facility, the military personnel almost became violent. Is the argument really that the "terrorists"/"commies"/enemy de jour would even less tolerant of burning the US flag? If we weren't fighting in Iraq/Afghanistan/Kosovo/Columbia/Vietnam/Panama/etc, would it really be more difficult to burn the flag? More difficult to deal with 2257 restrictions on producing porn? More difficult to sneak into an R rated movie or wear a sexually explicit t-shirt to high school?

**sigh** I ended with a flag burning story. I'm sorry, I really didn't intend to be so anti-american all in one post.

Tobi,
Don't be too upset on your comment. I feel that the main reason Monica Roberts wrote this piece was to point out that we need to show the flag at our events because by not doing so, we are allowing the radical right to point out that not only are we "sick perverts," but that we are also unpatrotic. It would be one less thing for them be bitch about.

Monica R's issue is with the entire community at large, but not on how individuals want to view the flag. I am proud of the flag and I would never burn it, but when politicians want to ban flag burning, I will fight against the ban.

As far as the question on whether the military is why we have any freedoms, including speech, it can be a very hard concept for people to wrap their minds around unless they were in the military or came from a military family.

When a person is in the military, they are emmersed in all the history and backgrounds that are associated with them. I served on submarines and I learned a lot about their history. Subs sunk 55% of the tonnage in WWII, with only 1% of the Navy personnel. They broke the backbone of the Japanese shipping, thus speeding our way to a finish.

But, they did that by taking a heavy toll. We lost 52 submarines and 3300 men in WWII. They gave their lives in the process of crippling the Japanese Navy.

There are stories like this that most Americans never hear about. All branches of the service have their stories. Because of the missle subs, the Soviet Union collapsed because they couldn't keep up with us militarily. That was my contribution. I pushed 16 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles with 10 warheads each, in the Atlantic, protecting this country and the rights of the people in this country. But, people never knew this but us.

Tobi, I have to admit, our military and the use of our military has not been filled with nothing but glorious moments, but we have done what we can to preserve our freedoms and rights. Now we have to convince the politicians that we ALL deserve those rights. You take care.

Tobi,
Don't be too upset on your comment. I feel that the main reason Monica Roberts wrote this piece was to point out that we need to show the flag at our events because by not doing so, we are allowing the radical right to point out that not only are we "sick perverts," but that we are also unpatrotic. It would be one less thing for them be bitch about.

Monica R's issue is with the entire community at large, but not on how individuals want to view the flag. I am proud of the flag and I would never burn it, but when politicians want to ban flag burning, I will fight against the ban.

As far as the question on whether the military is why we have any freedoms, including speech, it can be a very hard concept for people to wrap their minds around unless they were in the military or came from a military family.

When a person is in the military, they are emmersed in all the history and backgrounds that are associated with them. I served on submarines and I learned a lot about their history. Subs sunk 55% of the tonnage in WWII, with only 1% of the Navy personnel. They broke the backbone of the Japanese shipping, thus speeding our way to a finish.

But, they did that by taking a heavy toll. We lost 52 submarines and 3300 men in WWII. They gave their lives in the process of crippling the Japanese Navy.

There are stories like this that most Americans never hear about. All branches of the service have their stories. Because of the missle subs, the Soviet Union collapsed because they couldn't keep up with us militarily. That was my contribution. I pushed 16 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles with 10 warheads each, in the Atlantic, protecting this country and the rights of the people in this country. But, people never knew this but us.

Tobi, I have to admit, our military and the use of our military has not been filled with nothing but glorious moments, but we have done what we can to preserve our freedoms and rights. Now we have to convince the politicians that we ALL deserve those rights. You take care.

I think it's interesting that both Monica Helms and Nick are advocating that the flag means the military. Different opinions of the military, but apparently that's what the flag stands for.

I'm all for cheap, cynical use of political symbols to advance one's agenda. I don't feel much positive related to the American flag, considering that I too buy into the idea that it at least partly stands for the military (our biggest group of ambassadors worldwide), and the wars that I and my parents can remember haven't been all to great. I mean, yeah, WWII may have prevented the US from being taken over by the Axis powers, I don't know, but the Iraq war has little to do with US freedoms.

I also take issue with the idea that the immigration rallies of 2005 didn't show the flag enough. It was all over those rallies! The issue the right had was that the flag was being displayed along with other flags, an issue they don't seem to have with st. patrick's day parades. It was just about racism against latinos, and nothing more, no matter their justifications.

I doubt that the American flag/lapel pin/yellow ribbon will take away from the right's ammo considering all the junk they make up about us, but if it can change a few minds, then they should go for it. I just don't know how many minds it can change.

Alex,
Do you remember the day the Wall came down? It started with one person taking a tiny chip out of it. The tiny chips added up and loosen up bigger pieces until whole sections came down. By changing one person's mind today and another person later, so on and so forth, then the wall to our freedoms come down and we will have won. This is not a process that will happen over night. many of us on this blog will never live long enough to see that wall come down, but I'll be damned if I'll stop chipping away at it.

Monica,

Previously I commented (circa June 14) about how the Indianapolis GLBT Pride Festival takes place on a downtown plaza surrounded by military monuments.

If I remember correctly, I also believe that here in Indianapolis the festival organizers began the festival with either the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. Could some other reader vouch for me on this? I arrived later on Saturday, but I believe I saw this on the day's schedule posted near the stage. (Unfortunately I couldn't find the day's schedule posted on the festival website.)

In any event, I believe the flag not only symbolizes the nation itself, but also the foundational documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights. Since our rights to be GLBT as they are today have been derived from even more foundational principles coded in these documents, we ought to be flying Old Glory --- with gusto! --- regardless of the momentary political atmosphere as the country passes from one chapter in history to the next.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 24, 2008 6:33 PM

Paytriotic symbols like the flag are the banners of the military -industrial ‘national security’ state. They are not proper symbols for movements for equality. What they represent is antithetical to our interests. When we reach the stage in this country when the fight for equality gets serious we’ll get new flags, just like we did in 1776.

As for veterans, it’s true that many people are forced into the armed forces for economic reasons. But if you “served” in Asia, the Middle East or Latin America, in any of the dozens of recent US military adventures you were not fighting for ‘our’ rights on anyone’s else’s. You were fighting to bring tyranny to those countries.

Many vets, serious about ending the murders of Iraqis and the mauling of GI's have joined groups like VVAW or VAIW.
http://www.vaiw.org/
http://www.vaiw.org/


“Patriotism ... is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods (that) increases… arrogance and conceit. .”
Emma Goldman, (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) known for her leftist and feminist political activism.


“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
H. L. Menken, critic.


“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
Sinclair Lewis, author of “It Can’t Happen Here”, “Elmer Gantry” and “Babbitt”. He was the first American awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Well, Monica, you tried. Too bad some people just don't get it.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 25, 2008 7:22 AM

Monica, I get it, and I am very proud of you for having said it, and I thank you for your continuing service to our country whether as submariner or activist. I must confess, when I first saw your piece I did not read the jump because I asked myself: "How controversial is something as logical as that?"

Then today I see the number of comments your article has generated. It is close to July 4th and I was hoping for a patriotic lift, but instead...

Tobi, Nick, the flags of oppression were the Confederate Flag, the Nazi Flag, the Flag of the departed Soviet Union.

You are confusing our government with our people and their innate sacrifice and goodness. There is much more good than bad out there. There is an inability on the part of some citizens to understand(not as fortunate as yourselves)that we should ignorantly tread on our best symbols to dramatize our worst mistakes.

Some Americans are indeed ignorant. Many others are ungrateful, many complacent, many self centered. The sins of our government is what we should be angry about, not the flag.

Alex, a few minds changed in Florida would have given us Al Gore instead of Bush and I will, and have, used all good things to my advantage in my life. I live in Thailand, I still love America, but I have my reasons and my freedom to live where I want to unlike so many others. Lets be grateful for the incredible advantages we have as a gift from Americans who sacrificed.

In my neighborhood in Chicago I flew a flag 24 hours a day Monica as I had a spotlight on it at night! The gang drug pushers we fought knew it was there too.

Lastly, Perdue, I can tell from the comments around you that you have been reading my comments even though I have avoided reading yours and asked you politely not to read mine. Since you follow my remarks on another posting by dismissing my explanations as a "Chamber of Commerce" argument I will tell you that I came from a family that worked for a living. My father worked in a armaments factory during WWII where he met my mother who drove a crane out of need and out of love for her two brothers who served in the army. There was no question of love of country being raised by people who had each known what it was to not have even had shoes at all times during the depression. (which doubtless you would blame on a lack of Socialism)

And Perdue, those "workshops" you held at Washington State University on Socialism (ya know, the ones that cost fifty cents!) were not worth a nickel in 1970 dollars. So, you still don't remember me? Good! I have politely asked you, with respect, to neither read or comment upon my posts. I can tell yours in one or two sentences, scan down check the author, and read no further as it just does not interest me. Can you exercise a similar restraint?

Monica(s) I apologize, you went to a lot of work defending something that requires no defense. I am proud of both of you.

Robert, you are such a sweet man. If you ever find yourself in the Atlanta area, look me up.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 25, 2008 10:33 AM

It would be an honor.

As an Furriner oppressed by Coca-Colonisation, maybe I could be permitted to throw in my 2 kopins worth?
The USA is imperfect. Well guess what, so is every other nation, including my own.

The things that makes me forgive the crap that I personally, and my country too, has been handed by arrogant American hegemony are many. First, there's the peculiar and uniquely American tradition of them always thinking the worst about themselves. Other countries and regimes are given a pass for some of the most outrageous behaviour, yet if the USA does not quite live up to its high ideals, it is excoriated as being the worst of the worst.

This is American arrogance at its worst. The idea that only they are imperfect, that only their historical injustices are important.

There is one large monument in our nation's capital, where I live. Only one. And that's to the US personnel who fought and died in World War II and helped save us from invasion. And that USA was racist, with Jim Crow laws, and Comstock laws, and all sorts of idiocies and bigotries.

You guys are still imperfect. You don't always live up to your high ideals. But you do try. And considering that the US is not a nation, but e pluribus unum, a federation of vastly different cultures, from Redneck Texas to Fruitloop California, you do pretty darned well, all things considered.

The Stars and Stripes stands for all that is America, good and bad, but mainly for the Constitution and the idea that all people are created equal. It specifically symbolises all those who have given their all for those ideals.

It means a lot to many conservative people. The rational ones, not the Pat Buchanans, David Dukes and Fred Phelps, who loath it and all it stands for.

If we are to reach out to these people, then we must show that we don't spit on the ideals they hold dear. That we believe in all that Truth and Justice stuff, and it is because we believe in Equality and Justice that we are doing what we are doing.

And personally... some 60% of TS people have served in Uniform, or alongside those who have served in Uniform. To refuse to show our colours, the ones we gave so much for, is insulting to us too.

I'm Australian. But I have had the honour to work alongside members of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, and some of my work has saved the lives of USN sailors on ships proudly flying that peculiar design you call a flag.

If you think it's been besmirched, then take it back and launder it in the ideals it stands for. Trash it, and although the flag is gone, the stains remain.

Gary Brackett, a member of the board for Indy Pride, emailed back to me recently to confirm that I was correct in Comment #25 --- The Indy Pride Festival does sing the National Anthem during the opening of the stage performances.

Gary's email explained to me that this is a requirement for the use of University Park, and is a stipulation in their permit contract with the city.

Kissen Telle | July 4, 2009 9:42 AM

We should promote ourselves as "equalists" as opposed to "separatists." Yes, fly that flag, too.

Then again, within our own Community, we tend to be 'separatists' and promote schisms and dissension by exclusion and derision. Case in point, I attended a smaller scale Pride event recently and all the LGB's were staring and making comments about - omigosh - "a T!"

How in the heck can we expect equality if we do not promote it within our own Community?

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