This April, Dr. Mary Pham of Irvine, California showed her support for the LGBT community by flying a rainbow flag above her home. But her simple message of equality didn’t go over so well with her apparently bigoted neighbors.
According to a report from the OC Weekly:
Pham’s not a complete stranger to the spotlight. A Vietnamese American chiropractic doctor who came to the United States following the fall of Saigon, Pham has three (mostly) adult children and used to host a daytime talk-radio program on KUCI-FM 88.9 that attempted to shatter stereotypes about living behind the Orange Curtain. In a June 2012 edition of her show, Pham said that, though she often does not speak highly of Irvine, it was ultimately “a pretty good place to live.”
She first flew the flag following a ceremony with friends in June. “It took me a long time to find my flag to hang, so when I did, [my friend] Ramon and I decided that we should do a fun ceremonial event,” she says. “Most of my friends here in Orange County rent rooms, so they do not have the luxury of hanging anything. . . . We all decided that [my flag] was pride for all of us—that’s why it was a big event. We invited all of our friends of all colors to come to share.”
The flag prominently hung from one of the tallest structures in Orangetree. It immediately drew attention, with initial complaints first directed to the neighborhood’s property-management company, PowerStone Property Management.
Before the controversy, Pham’s friend warned her that she might get a negative response from her neighbors, but she went ahead with her display anyway. In July, Pham learned that quite a few complaints had been sent to her Home Owners Association. One resident referred to the flag as the “Fag Flag.”
[The residents]…have had their ‘gay pride’ flag up for six to eight weeks. The flag has two wedding rings interlocked and many rainbow-colored stripes. It is an eyesore. In my opinion, it is okay to feel strongely [sic] about a cause,” an anonymous compliant read. “But to leave their ‘political statement’ up for this long is ridiculous, and I am offended. Most people do not choose the gay lifestyle, and personally, it irritates me to have to be reminded every day of two men having sex with each other. It’s not a fun thing to look at as I come and go every day. If someone left their sign up regarding an election for more than a week or two, it would get very old and be an eyesore.
The community manager did manage to respond to one the emails:
We have not had any calls yet about the flag on the home…But I did see it on the property inspection and contacted legal counsel to see if the HOA can do anything about it. Civil Code does provide protection for homeowners to put up flags, banners and noncommercial signs, and the Association can do nothing to prohibit it. I have a feeling that this will not last long, but I could be wrong.
Pham didn’t back down, but the negative reaction from her neighbors made her uneasy. The executive director of her local LGBT center advised her to file a police, just in case. Almost immediately, her neighbors began to escalate their hostility. Someone even printed out a Westboro Baptist Church flyer and left it at her door, along with a flyer that was left on her windshield reading “GOD HATES FLAGS.”
But Pham became even more determined in the wake of the bigotry assault. “Before it was just a flag. Now, I’m going to fight back,” she declared.
After discussing the matter with her son Russell, Pham decided to take her support for equality to the next level and turned her house into a practical parade float for gay rights.
Wonder what her neighbors think now.
h/t: Daily Kos