Two men are accused of harassing a shop owner in Fremont for displaying the gay pride flag.
Rae Steckler-Homorody said she took a photograph of the pair when they became belligerent upon being told to leave her store.
After the altercation, Steckler-Homorody, who usually leaves the pride flag out, decided to bring it inside the Niles-area shop. She said the older of the two men began the fight by asking why she had rainbow flag displayed.
“Why am I flying the rainbow flag? Because I’m an ally,” she told NBC Bay Area. “And he goes, ‘Huh, why aren’t you flying the American flag?‘”
Steckler-Homorody replied that she flies both and rotates them regularly. But the conversation unraveled quickly so she told the man to leave, which upset him.
“Began with the ‘f*** yous,’ ‘f*** yous,’ ‘f*** yous,’ … and ‘go f*** yourself,’ and that was all in front of my customers,” she said.
The man left, but returned with another man who also cursed about the flag. They got more incensed when she tried taking pictures of them.
“I was holding my phone up to take a picture, and he goes to smack it out of my hand, and I’m like backing up,” Steckler-Homorody said.
Shop owners in the Niles community pride themselves on celebrating diversity and inclusion so Thursday’s confrontation came as a shock.
Merchants at a quilting store down the street say the same two men confronted them about a month ago for displaying a woman’s march sign.
“Well he was very upset about it, and took offense by it,” Belle Spring said.
After that confrontation, Spring’s flag mysteriously disappeared but it’s not clear if the two men are responsible.
The neighborhood is rattled, but Steckler-Homorody says she will continue flying the gay pride flag. She plans to install two flag holders so she can display the stars and stripes alongside the rainbow flag.
“Niles is a good place to visit. It’s a good place to be. It’s a safe place to be,” she said.