Although Pride Month ended less than a week ago, Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are still waving the gay pride flag in celebration of advancements towards full inclusion of the LGBT community. The removal of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and a 5-4 ruling against Proposition 8 are two celebratory moments worthy of showcasing the flag’s colors.
In contrast, Louisiana Republicans want the celebration to end early due to a recently introduced bill that may ban the gay pride flag from being displayed on government property.
Ray Green, a proud veteran of the Korean War saw a picture of a gay pride flag waving at Lafayette Park. Green then contacted Andy Naquin, a city-parish councilman, and expressed deep concern for the ability of the gay pride flag to be displayed on public buildings. “I did not go overseas and fight for our country so that we could come back and be subject to something like that,” stated Green in The Daily Advertiser. “Several of us [war veterans] feel that the flying of this flag is a poke in the eye of a way of life.” According to Naquin, “Government flag poles really should be meant to fly only government flags.”
What’s the problem? Well, Green presented a hypothetical scenario, stating that the same level of concern would be extended to those who wanted to display the Ku Klux Klan flag at another fairly well-known park in Louisiana. “That [gay pride flag] has offended many, many, many veterans. It offended me,” admitted Green.
The current debate surrounding whether or not the gay pride flag should be displayed on public buildings truly exposes the incongruous and fallacious arguments used to validate borderline discriminatory beliefs. Firstly, Green’s comparison of the gay pride flag with the Ku Klux Klan flag is ridiculous, and unlike the Ku Klux Klan, the LGBT community does not have an outstanding history of bigotry and violence. Most importantly, the Ku Klux Klan was founded by six former Confederates and adopted a philanthropy solely based on violence towards blacks, misogynistic viewpoints, and a push for white supremacy. I am completely baffled at the idea that the gay pride flag is “a poke in the eye of a way of life” and its ability to be displayed publically does not encroach upon nor detract away from life at all. In fact, its showing paints a picture of a society that is becoming more diversified and equal.
Shockingly, Green then said that he is not “against the gays” but is against “the act itself.” Wait, what? Green inadvertently suggests that he disapproves of gays by openly admonishing against one of the assumed components of homosexuality (the definition of homosexuality continues to change and shift as we grow more accepting of it, however, there is a large debate regarding what is considered a ‘homosexual act’ or if we can add parameters to its way of expression) and Green’s word-choice sadly mimics a series of anti-sodomy laws that describe homosexuality as an “act”.
Moreover, by “way of life”, I believe Green is referring to the heteronormative implications of life that forbade homosexuality or public display of affection between two same-sexed individuals during his time. Interestingly enough, Green explicates how he perceives freedom: essentially, he did not fight the Korean War for “non-traditional” values.
Green is exhibiting signs of a severe case of culture shock and there are no medicinal remedies to cure him. However, an open mind and a willingness to accept America as it is today may prove to help Green coexist with LGBT individuals. Confronting America’s cultural shift consistently proves to be hard on older generations, but I do believe an intergenerational dialogue dedicated to educating the misunderstood is indicative of positively impacting Green and generations alike. In Green’s defense, I do concede that the values instilled during his time may conflict with today’s moral system, and for that, I understand his inability to conceptualize a world where the gay pride can be displayed. Contrarily, times are changing and Green simply must accept the societal changes that are occurring.
The ability for non-government flags to be displayed on public property may be the only solid argument in this divisive case, yet the fundamental misunderstanding of homosexuality vividly reared its head in Green’s statement(s). Also, South Carolina’s ability to wave the Confederate Flag above the statehouse is noted to be highly offensive considering the flag is representative of slavery, the Civil War, and its many bigoted perspectives. But if a flag that represents a time in history where racial inequity was at an all-time high and prejudiced perspectives were deemed as normalized behavior can be seen on a public building [in South Carolina], why is the LGBT flag being treated so poorly and inadequately?
Furthermore, Green’s interpretation of freedom is extremely skewed.