Seventeen-year-old Miranda DeLong received a huge shock as she was returning home from work last week.
It was 2 o’clock in the morning. She, a bisexual teen, was accompanied by her transgender friend, walking from the boardwalk where they were employed. There before them, scrawled in graffiti across her family’s garage were the words: “I’m Gay.”
Miranda’s sister Emily is also bisexual.
Miranda immediately ran inside to wake up mom, Erin, and dad, Joe. The family gathered outside to see the graffiti. Miranda and Emily were shocked. Erin and Joe were furious. “Our kids are our everything,” Erin said, “and to see them hurt is worse than being hurt ourselves.”
No one needed to inform the DeLong family that this was an LGBT household: “We found out Miranda was bi when I read her diary in the 8th grade,” Erin reveals. “She was having some issues at school, and wasn’t talking. I confronted her and asked and then told her that she could love whoever she wanted, as long as she’s happy.”
“Emily came out to us just this year. Her best friend is gay, and had ‘I’m gay’ written on her hand. Emily wrote, ‘so am I’ on her own. I didn’t react much, and she thought I didn’t realize what it said. Then she asked if another girl could spend the night. I asked if they were dating, and she ran out of the room. She thought her sister had ‘told’ on her. I went upstairs and said we already knew. She asked why we didn’t react? I said, ‘I wouldn’t overreact if you were straight; why overreact for being gay?’ She replied, ‘I like boys, too.’ And I told her the same thing we told her sister: ‘Please love who you want and be happy.’”
Now, the same phrase on Emily’s hand was being used in an attempt to harm the family.
But that wasn’t going to happen.
“We decided to paint,” Erin declares. And paint they did: Their garage now sports the largest rainbow flag pattern for miles around.
“We decided to paint a rainbow so we could include all sexualities,” Erin said. “We have many LGBT friends that visit our house and we wanted them to all feel accepted. It was a way to support them all.”
The DeLong family has already received some worldwide support through the website Stop-Homophobia, where the image of their lovely new garage door first appeared.
Artist/designer Aldo Gatt applauded the creative endeavor, especially since their experience hit so close to home. “What an amazing response,” he said. “The same thing happened to my house in 2009. Somebody broke in and sprayed homophobic threats all over the walls. It was devastating to think anyone would have such hatred in them.”
“The house is 450 years old and has historic marine graffiti on the walls, which was vandalized with the graffiti,” Aldo says. “Thankfully, a restorer helped me remove the graffiti without damaging the walls.”
Aldo, much like the DeLongs, Aldo found that artistic retaliation was better than mere anger. The once vandalized wall is now a thing of beauty.
We are living in a time where LGBT progress is inciting a lot of homophobic anger and violence. The haters are in the mood to harm and humiliate. Our work is not over.
The Delong family, and Mr. Gatt are showing us our greatest weapon in response: It’s not anger or retaliation. It’s creativity.