The city of Antioch is taking an unprecedented step Thursday, showing its support for the LGBTQ community by flying a Pride flag not just for Pride month but for the entire rest of the year.
This comes after the city caused a stir three years ago when it raised the rainbow flag at City Hall for the first time ever during Pride month.
“It really gives me hope,” said Robyn Kuslits of the Contra Costa Rainbow Community Center. “It gives me hope there’s progress being made.”
That's how Kuslits said they feel to know the Pride flag will be displayed at their hometown’s city hall for all of 2022.
The mayor said reports of recent homophonic attitudes being expressed in Antioch spurred the council to take the unprecedented move.
“This is a place that welcomes everybody and we’re going to do our damnedest to ensure everybody feels welcome including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe.
Instead of the rainbow flag the newer progress Pride flag, which is more inclusive, is now being flown.
But not everybody’s happy Antioch is displaying a Pride flag.
“We have the USA flag, we have the California flag and we have the city of Antioch flag . Why do we need any other flags?” said a community member at the city council meeting.
Two council members voted against it, saying they have no problem displaying the flag for Pride month but keeping it up all year isn’t fair to others.
“I was contacted by some veterans who said what about us? Some police officers who said what about us? Spoke to a firefighter who said, ‘What about us?’” said Councilmember Michael Barbanica.
“It doesn’t leave any room for other flags,” said Councilmember Lori Ogorchok.
The mayor insists other organizations can still request their flag be flown as well. But many think displaying the progress Pride flag is needed.
“I love that my hometown is flying the Pride flag,” said Kuslits, adding that they’re proud Antioch is sending a strong statement that the LGBTQ community has a place in the city and can be celebrated year round.
“It is an historic move. I think it can be a real model for other cities to do,” said Kuslits. “Local leaders can really take steps to affirm the community. Raising the flag for the rest of the year is such a hope. A huge symbol.”
The Pride flag will remain up through Dec. 31.