SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - There’s frustration and disappointment from the LGBTQ+ community in San Jose after someone took off with rainbow pride flags in the Willow Glen neighborhood and replaced them with Christian flags.
In downtown Willow Glen, in honor of Pride month, people can wave the rainbow flag as they cross Lincoln Avenue. Holly Barr added them to her orange crosswalk flags back on June 1. It was a charming gesture to show solidarity and inclusiveness for the LGBTQ+ community. She said the next day the flags were gone.
“I’m frustrated. It’s another nail in the coffin.”- Members of the #LGBTQ community react after Rainbow Pride flags are removed and replaced with Christian flags in #SanJose’s Willow Glen neighborhood #ktvu 10/11p pic.twitter.com/p7fFE7XQKr— Azenith Smith (@AzenithKTVU) June 18, 2019
“I think it's a couple different reasons,” said Barr. “I think people are not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. I think some kids like them and they think they are pretty.”
However, what someone did last week caught Barr and many other people in Willow Glen by surprise.
“I saw there was a couple of Christian flags in some of the canisters and the LGBTQ+ flags were removed,” said Barr. “I’m not against any group, you don't have to take anything else away.”
“I’m frustrated,” said Gabrielle Antolovich of the Billy de Frank LGBTQ+ Community Center. “It’s just another nail in the coffin.”
Antolovich said it sends the wrong message.
“If they want to have a Christian flag as well, that's great but don't replace it because that's a clear message you don't want us there,” said Antolovich.
Antolovich believes not all Christians in Willow Glen feel the same way. Resident Leslie Lang agrees.
“The golden rule is we all want to be treated with love, kindness and respect. So if your religion is telling you to tell people otherwise, I say you need to find a new religion,” said Lang.
Vince Cantelmo is a frequent customer at Peet’s. He and others suspect it's a known evangelist in town who may be the culprit. He believes neither the Christian nor the pride flags belong.
“What does sexuality have to do with crossing the street?” said Cantelmo. “That's what it says to me.”
“They may have to get rid of the flags altogether if people are going to get that ridiculous,” said Antolovich.
There has been an outpouring of support with many community members adding more pride flags. Some of them want to hold a community watch and take turns looking after the flags.
Be sure to watch our KTVU special 'A History of Pride' Sunday night June 23 at 9:30 p.m.