Natalie Ladd's garden while the flag was still flying.
Natalie Ladd's garden while the flag was still flying.
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With the help of my soul sister, I have an extraordinary little patch of a flower garden.

She designed it so there would be as much color as possible, popping up here and there all season long. It is personal, semi-private, and gives me a burst of pleasure when I pull into my parking spot outside the tiny condo.

Natalie LaddGoing on the third year, the garden growth mirrors my own. In other words, it is well-organized chaos relying on loving care and the grace of the Universe.

Come June, the patch gives me roses. Big thorny ones, and my odd favorite, the little, bitty ones. Along with my roses comes Pride month and it makes sense that the rainbow represents the people Pride honors, and their allies, too. 

As an ally, I needed to show my respect and support. More than meets the eye, there is discrimination, backward-trending lawmakers, maliciousness in the name of God, and all the other not-so-subtle things my gay friends and family face daily because they are uniquely themselves and love who they love.

With that in my heart, I searched for a small rainbow flag to place in my flower garden. Unable to find one that also honored transexuals and other non-cisgender people, I found one that had fluffy ruffles of color and said welcome at the top. It was perfect. 

The operative word is “was.” As in past tense because after two days, someone took it. Yep, someone physically removed the ruffled rainbow flag from my garden. 

The hope is whoever took the flag liked it so much they had to have it for their own garden. But that seems far-fetched and unlikely. I think someone stole it because they didn’t like what that beautiful, ruffled rainbow flag meant to me. And to all my gay people. And to my other allies. 

Stealing that symbol of love from my garden goes beyond petty theft to an amoral Class A felony. 

Wouldn’t this be an excellent place to practice the turn-the-other-cheek stuff that a famous Jewish guy talked about? Wouldn’t this be the time to exercise empathy for fear held by those who are triggered by anything other than their own makeup? Wouldn’t this be a starting point for change by leveling up and operating from a place of forgiveness? 

Maybe for someone more evolved, it would. But I am righteously pissed off. If someone had the gall to do this, what’s next?

So, nope. I’m not forgiving the person who took my ruffled, rainbow flag. That human waste product walked up to my end-unit, furthest-away-from-the-road, tiny condo; trampled into my happy place of a flower garden, and did something literally and symbolically unthinkable. 

Vacillating between verbal rage and tears of rage, it is impossible to accept that my friends and family who are “other” are on the verge of having past progress taken away from them.

Gay marriage only became legal in the whole of the U.S. seven years ago this month. It wasn’t until 2017, also in June, that LGBTQIA+ couples were granted full adoption rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. Long-overdue changes were made with regard to names on birth certificates, same-sex fostering rights, and just about everything cisgenders take as a ho-hum given when marrying and starting a family.

If I lose readers because of this column, then see you later. Go watch FOX News. Go read the New York Post. Respecting and working toward inalienable human rights is one of my deepest core values. Call me a bleeding-heart liberal (you’re not entirely wrong) but damn it, leave the gays alone. Leave the QIA+ alone, too. Leave the allies alone. While you’re at it, don’t ban great books and let the queens read to kids. 

And leave my stuff alone. If you can’t bring yourself to be supportive, then live and let live, and stay the F out of my flower garden. 

Thankfully, the month of June is only half over. There are still Pride parades, teas, fundraisers for our at-risk gay and trans kids, concerts, and parties galore. (Call it a stereotype, but wow, can the gays throw a party.) There is still time for a Pride month drag brunch here in Portland, or at House of Blues in Boston, and the season is upon us to don all things rainbow. 

If this soap box rant bothers you in any fashion, then I’m not sorry. I’ve found a new flag and it doesn’t have ruffles or say “welcome” but it speaks for itself. And for me, my support of Pride will not end when June is over. So, I too will live and let live, but I wish all the homophobes a super uncomfortable month. 

The garden will flourish and even in the dark of February, there will be roses.

Natalie Ladd is an award-winning columnist, freelance writer, and Portland restaurant veteran. She loves Boston sports, California cabernets, and has never sampled a cheese she didn’t like. Reach her at [email protected].

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