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City denies Pride group’s request to fly rainbow flag over downtown Roanoke

A request to hang a 7x13' rainbow flag in place of the American flag in Elmwood Park on Gay Pride weekend next month.
A request to hang a 7×13′ rainbow flag in place of the American flag in Elmwood Park on Gay Pride weekend next month. Joe Ravi/wiki images

The city of Roanoke has told local Pride event organizers they cannot fly a rainbow flag in a local public park during their annual event next month.

But the story of a rainbow flag flying over the Star City is a bit more complicated than that.

This year, Roanoke Pride has asked for the 7×13 ft. rainbow flag to fly alongside or in place of the American flag in Elmwood park during the LGBTQ event held Sept. 12-13th. That request was denied, but the inception of the request stems from last year when Pride organizers claim they were offered the chance to fly the flag.

“When our meetings began with the City in the Spring of 2014, we asked to do something special to designate Pride Weekend on our 25th Anniversary,” said Jason M. Gilmore, President of Roanoke Pride, in an email. “This included a number of ideas: A Rainbow crosswalk entrance… a building like the Wells Fargo building lit up in multiple rainbow like colors… Flags down Jefferson and Bullitt Avenues… after a lot of discussion in meetings, officials with the CITY came forth with the idea in our meetings of raising the Pride Flag on the main flagpole in Elmwood Park for our weekend. We gladly accepted such.”

In August of 2014, Gilmore got an email from the city confirming their plans to raise the flag. (pictured below)


2014 was looking to be a banner year for Roanoke’s Pride event, but about two days before the flag was supposed to be erected, Gilmore got a call from the city.

“It wasn’t until Thursday evening, September 4, 2014, at about 8pm, when I was asked to take a conference call from the City [saying] that the flag raising was pulled,” he said.

According to Gilmore, city officials told him”Veterans Groups” had caught wind of the flag raising and took issue with the use of the flag pole.

“I personally take offense to the Veterans Group element because I have friends who are currently serving our Armed Forces and who are Veterans who are a part of the LGBT Community,” he said.

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