Lauren Boebert says Flag Day isn’t for rainbow flags. She’s wrong.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (l)/A Pride flag
Rep. Lauren Boebert (l)/A Pride flag Photo: Shutterstock

Flag Day, as many people in the LGBTQ+ community know, is the queerest day of the year. Smack-dab in the middle of Pride Month, the day’s name calls attention to queer people’s favorite hobby: making flags to represent new identities.

It’s said that if one were to take every LGBTQ+ Pride flag and lay them end-to-end in a line, they would go around the Earth three times. No one has ever tried since they know that by the time they were done, LGBTQ+ people would have created another 100 flags.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) took Flag Day as an opportunity to attack queer vexillology.

“On Flag Day, we celebrate one flag and one flag only,” she tweeted. “It’s not rainbow colored. It’s not yellow and blue. It’s this one. Happy Flag Day!”

Then she posted an amateurishly photoshopped picture of herself holding an American flag in a black void. (Seriously, now I want to know what was in the background of that photograph that made this seem like a good idea.)

This year, Republicans have declared war on the rainbow flag. Some municipalities are banning rainbow flags on public buildings, Pride flags are getting vandalized, and conservatives are calling for boycotts of any brand that posts anything that even looks like a rainbow on social media. Fox News even declared that the Pride flag means “grooming and pedophilia,” the oldest attack on LGBTQ+ people in the book.

Republicans have been outraged all week that the White House hung up a Pride flag as part of its Pride celebration last Saturday, with one Republican, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), declaring that it’s a sign of the Biden administration “putting their social agenda ahead of patriotism.”

He even claimed that the Flag Code was violated because the Pride flag was between two American flags as he shared a photo of the White House… that conveniently cropped out the American flag on the roof of the White House that was flying higher than all the other flags.

The battle over the flags – just like the LGBTQ+ love of flags – is, of course, not about the flags themselves. It’s about what they represent: people living their lives without shame, authentically. They’re a visual shorthand for who we are when our identities are often made invisible, through the closet, through shame, through erasure, an invisibility often enforced with threats of violence.

A Pride flag at the White House shows that LGBTQ+ people are just as much a part of the country as anyone else, an idea that enrages people like Boebert, who believe that America should not extend the same rights and protections to LGBTQ+ people. If anything, she’d want the country to defend cishet people from LGBTQ+ people; nonconformity is, in and of itself, a threat to authoritarians.

Earlier this week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) declared the rainbow flag a “symbol of aggression” that “should be concerning to all Americans.” Why LGBTQ+ Americans should be concerned about the rainbow flag, she never explained, unless she just forgot that many Americans are LGBTQ+ as she attacked the community.

Contrary to Rep. Boebert, there is no reason people can’t have multiple identities at the same time and celebrate all of them, not just the ones that are approved of by government officials like herself. Contrary to Sen. Marshall, taking a moment to celebrate one group of people – a group of people that has faced state-sponsored oppression for centuries – isn’t unpatriotic; if anything, attacking a group of Americans just for existing is.

And contrary to Rep. Greene, it’s not an act of aggression for others to live their lives openly and honestly. If it feels like that, then you’re the oppressor.

This year has shown exactly why Pride flags are still needed. Because if our unironed pieces of polyester with six colored stripes can make terrible people so angry, then we must be doing something right.

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