Rainbow Flag Removed from Top of West Hollywood City Hall

The rainbow flag has been removed from the top of West Hollywood City Hall after months of debate, the L.A. Times reports:

RainbowAbout 40% of West Hollywood’s population identifies as gay or lesbian, according to city surveys. There are rainbow-colored crosswalks at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards. And four of the five city council members are gay men.

But city council members in November unanimously voted to maintain the city’s practice of displaying only the United States, California and city of West Hollywood flags on public facilities.

Councilman John Duran said the city is shared by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual people and that the flag’s hanging above City Hall was inappropriate, even if the city was founded largely on gay rights.

West Hollywood “belongs to all of us,” Duran said at one meeting. “It’s not just a city of gay men. It belongs to heterosexual people as well, and City Hall belongs to everybody in this community, gay or straight, and let’s not ever give the impression that City Hall has become exclusive to only one part of the West Hollywood community.”

The flag has been on top of the building since June at the suggestion of resident Larry Block after a city councilman agreed with his sentiment, which he repeated to the LAT:

“West Hollywood is a beacon of hope for gays and lesbians throughout the world,” he said. “When tourists come into town, they’re so proud of the fact that we’re that special place for the LGBT community. … The rainbow flag is an inclusive symbol, not exclusive.”

Block says because Duran and Prang are running for county offices the removal of the flag was a political move.

Comments

  1. Hrm says

    He’s right, and his stance is exactly the same one the LGBT community uses legally: just because a large portion or even a majority of the people in an area are a certain sexual orientation doesn’t mean that public accommodations should appear to be earmarked for only some of them. This is the same as having forms that only say “husband/wife” instead of “spouse” where gay marriage is legal.

    Of course, if people REALLY want to make a big deal about it, they can try to change the official West Hollywood flag itself.

  2. johnny says

    OK, let’s see…

    The rainbow has every color in it.

    It’s a symbol for allowing EVERYONE to exist, have rights, belong, etc.

    That’s EVERYONE.

    Not just gays, not just gay men, not just people who like rainbows.

    What part of “all-inclusive” do people not understand?

  3. Hrm says

    Johnny, then why not just use the West Hollywood flag, which already applies to everyone, instead of one that you just happen to like but that has no official meaning? I fail to see your point. To you it’s “all inclusive” but it’s not the flag of the city.

  4. Will says

    Four of the five city councilpeople in West Hollywood are gay (and the fifth is an extremely strong ally), the rainbow flag flies regularly on the median along Santa Monica Blvd., and in its policies, Weho is one of the most gay-supportive local governments anywhere. I personally don’t think the flag on city hall necessarily needed to come down, but it’s silly to argue about it, imply that it represents a de-gaying of Weho, or suggest that it means we’ve lost any sort of power.

  5. GregV says

    The flags on Santa Monica Blvd. symbolically meant something to me when I was in the process of coming out (and really they still do). I think this is a step in the wrong direction.
    As Johnny said, the rainbow flag has every color. It wasn’t designed as a partial rainbow with a “heterosexual” color removed. It’s symbolic of ALL sexual orientations being equally valuable.
    West Hollywood was established as a city specifically because gay people in the ’80’s did not feel safe at the hands of a then-largely-homophobic LAPD. There are so few cities in the US of this size that even border on being majority gay. (WeHo and Pam Springs and I can’t think of another.).
    A big difference between the “straightest” neighborhoods in America and the “gayest” ones is that gay people are not generally safe or included in the “straightest” areas. I know straight people who specifically like living or visiting gay areas because, ironically perhaps, even straight people are generally safer there, and they are certainlly always represented since they are the majority in EVERY city.
    WeHo’s gay history should be proudly proclaimed and not swept aside.

  6. Hrm says

    @GregV, then why not try to change the official flag? Why does something that had symbolism to you personally belong on a government building any more then a cross? Who cares if the city is 99.9% gay? These neutrality rules are in place for a very important reason, and you shouldn’t ask for exceptions to them any more than Christian conservatives should.

  7. Zlick says

    I agree with the decision, but of course the irony is the rainbow flag exists to represent EVERYBODY – but has undoubtedly become uber-identified with teh gay. So, yeah, let’s remove it from the City Hall. But absolutely take up the cause to incorporate it into a new design for the West Hollywood flag – which is a stupid digi-map of the convolutedly-shaped city boundaries. Dumb and super dumb.

    P.S. – It’s great that WeHo is the best of all worlds, with a 40% gay population. It’s nice to no longer be a gay ghetto, and it’s a wonderful mix of straights and gays, ethnicities, and income groups – that nonetheless retains its air of gay culture. A terrific place to live.

  8. David says

    There is no story here. The flag has only been there since June. It was hung there for Pride and they just didn’t take it down. I was kind of surprised when I first saw it hanging on City Hall and wondered if there would be a stink about it. What’s funny is the stink seems to be coming from our side of the fence now that it has been removed. There are way more things that need attention, lets move along.

  9. Eric says

    @HRM

    Wrong. Displaying a flag on a building, as in this case, doesn’t deny someone any rights. This is not the same argument at all. It is not the same as the majority denying rights to a minority. Not at all.

  10. Randy says

    Isn’t it time we expanded the rainbow flag to include straight people? The rights we have fought for and won are not rights just for gay people, or just for LGB people, or just for LGBT people. They are intended for all people. Aside from the individual color meanings (life, healing, sunlight etc.) which can apply to all people, the main meaning of the flag is to represent sexual diversity, and the dangers of harming people just because of who they are, or who they love, or even how they love. At the time of its creation, it drew attention to persecuted sexual minorities, but surely there’s room to include sexual freedom for everyone. Including everyone would surely be appropriate for a city hall. Removing this flag somehow suggests that straight people don’t deserve sexual freedom. But they surely do.

  11. JJ says

    @HRM, the rainbow flag represents the city’s public policy that people of all sexual orientations are welcome and treated equally. This is not the public policy of most jurisdictions, so it’s still worthy of note. The city flag is not very effective at expressing that specific policy, so if officials want to express that non-discrimination is a core value of the city, displaying the rainbow flag is a way to do it.

    I’m not sure how your analogy to a cross applies. Giving official status to a Christian symbol would denote religious *discrimination,* whereas the rainbow flag denotes sexual orientation *non-discrimination.* Non-discrimination IS city policy–and legitimately so under the California and U.S. Constitutions–whereas religious discrimination could never be.

  12. FFS says

    It doesn’t belong. Any more than a monument to the Ten Commandments belongs on public grounds.

    Cultural expression belongs on people’s front porches. City Hall is for brass tacks.

  13. armour says

    ELCID & HRM try to delegitimize the rainbow flag with their discourse:
    “don’t see a valid reason to display a rainbow flag among a city’s OFFICIAL flags… ”
    “…that has no OFFICIAL meaning…”

    Please. Not even worth addressing properly.

    @FFS… And yet the 10Commandments statue still stands in exactly the same spot… Do you think it’s just because one is more cumbersome? Nope.

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