Memo Fachino and Lance Mier didn’t want to rustle with feathers. They just wanted to show their pride in June by displaying a flag.
“We don’t have hundreds of cars passing by every day,” said Fachino, 35, TODAY. “So we weren’t expecting to create any kind of buzz or bring up a specific issue, no pun intended. We really want everything to remain positive in terms of reception in the neighborhood. “
The couple, who have been together for eight years and married for five years, love the community they live in in Racine, Wisconsin. However, last year, amid the many dissenting political and social views that emerged, their local homeowners association put forward a policy that no flag other than the American flag could be hoisted on properties.
“They wanted to nip it in the bud, not letting any situation get out of hand with angst or something like that between neighbors,” said Mier, 36.
The couple knew they wouldn’t be able to fly their pride flag due to the new rule, which was officially put in place in May. They tried anyway, and shortly thereafter received a letter asking them to take it off. No homophobic intent – the HOA was just enforcing the rules in place. (Fachino is on the board himself.)
But the couple still wanted to show their pride. They found a loophole in the rules – yes flags were prohibited, but nothing was noted regarding lights.
“It was the day before June 1st, we turned off those rainbow spotlights and went to dinner, got home and looked at them in the dark and thought it was kinda nice,” said declared Mier. “So we took a photo, then posted on Facebook and posted on Reddit.”
Their Reddit post quickly went viral, garnering a huge amount of support from around the world.
Fachino, who is from Argentina, and Mier weren’t always the type to wield the rainbow of gay men. As they got older, they learned to appreciate the importance of visibility and their own privilege, which inspired them to show off and be proud of their community.
“When I first met Memo, I don’t think he liked Pride so much, and myself for sure. When I was younger I was away, but it’s not like I was proud and talking about it, ”Mier said. “But we do recognize that we are privileged and lucky to be able to talk about it and be able to share it and I really feel proud now.”
“There are a lot of people who are not safe, who are afraid of being outside, of being able to show that they are part of the community because they may be people of color or they may be in. an environment that does not accept their trans identity, “said Fachino.” They may not feel as welcome or comfortable, but it is always important for them to find that representation so that they know that it is something that is achievable.If you do not see other people who are like you achieve something, it is really hard for you to understand that it is also possible for you.
The couple felt this impact firsthand. A few years ago, when they were allowed to fly the rainbow pride flag, they found a note in their mailbox. Not from the HOA – the letter was from a neighbor.
“When we first moved in we were hanging our pride flag and ended up getting a handwritten letter from a neighbor who was in high school and not feeling welcome at home,” Mier said. “They lived in our neighborhood and they wrote to us saying, ‘Hey, I just want you to know, I’m struggling with my gender identity, but just seeing you there with your flag really makes me feel accepted. I might not have it at home, but I know there are people who will support me when I leave home. ‘”
Mier said the letter inspired them, whether with flags or spotlights, to stay visible and proud in every way possible.
“We actually have a real life example where it makes a difference. “
This story originally appeared on TODAY.com.
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