The theft of a lesbian couple’s pride flag led to a neighborhood coming together to support them.
Casey Handal and Zadette Rosado live in Barringon, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, with their two daughters. They say that earlier this month, they looked outside and noticed that their rainbow flag was gone.
In its place was an American flag.
Handal said that she doesn’t think it was a random act of vandalism. If it were, then the thief wouldn’t have taken the time to raise an American flag to replace the rainbow flag.
“I think the message was quite clear,” she said. “It was sort of the intolerant view versus the inclusive liberal view. I think if somebody would have just taken the flag and not replaced it with anything, that wouldn’t necessarily have sent quite the same message. It’s more premeditated this way.”
Handal left a message on social media asking her neighbors if they had seen anything the night before. No one had.
But the neighbors didn’t take kindly to the flag switch-up.
“I’m so sick of all this hate,” Kimberly Filian told the Chicago Tribune. “I just feel inundated in the media and everywhere I look, all those terrible stories. It’s overwhelming sometimes.”
So she ordered about 50 small rainbow flags.
“I felt like it was one thing I could do to show support — just something little,” she said.
Other neighbors started displaying the rainbow flags: on their houses, on their mailboxes, even incorporated into Christmas decorations.
“Especially in the climate we’re in, it just shows there are a lot of people who have a lot of love in their hearts,” said neighbor Kristin Cannon. “That love is bigger than the discrimination against a family like theirs.”
The neighbors also organized a Secret Santa system, just to give small gifts for Handal and Rosado’s family until New Year’s Eve.
“People who I know are conservative are participating in secret Santa,” said Stephanie Paine, social chair of the local homeowners’ association. “They’ve come together. Everyone wanted to do their best to make this right.”
Handal said she was glad that something positive came out of an act of hate.
“The fact that this story might make someone smile, maybe it’s not so bad, and maybe the hate we see so much is not the mass of people but individuals. I think it makes it all worth it if this crummy thing that happened can lead to spreading more joy and happiness in the world.”