The rainbow flag at the KKK Parade

The rainbow flag is something that we’ve seen a lot lately, especially with the SCOTUS ruling that marriage equality shall now be the law of the land. Some people view this flag as a symbol of intolerance toward religion and people of faith. That has not been my experience and I do not share those views. I am not religious, but I do believe you should be able to practice your faith in this country so long as you are not infringing on the rights and well-being of others. The rainbow flag is something that I plan on having in my wedding and intend on having front and center in many of our engagement photos.

The rainbow flag, commonly the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. (Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbol of peace.) The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community.  The flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978.

The rainbow flag, commonly the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. (Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbol of peace.) The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community.
The flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978.

A hangman's noose dangling from an automobile driven by a hooded Ku Klux Klan member is among the grim warnings to blacks to stay away from the voting places in the municipal primary election at Miami, Fla., on May 3, 1939. In spite of the threats, 616 blacks exercised their right to vote. (AP Photo)

A hangman’s noose dangling from an automobile driven by a hooded Ku Klux Klan member is among the grim warnings to blacks to stay away from the voting places in the municipal primary election at Miami, Fla., on May 3, 1939. In spite of the threats, 616 blacks exercised their right to vote. (AP Photo)

RisingSun1965

The confederate battle flag being waved at a Klan night rally in Rising Sun, MD in 1965.

While thinking about the Confederate Battle Flag for our discussion in class,  in addition to all of the buzz that has been surrounding it as of late, I found myself thinking about where my disdain for this symbol has come from. I grew up being taught to treat everyone equally, I also learned a lot about the civil rights movement and continue to learn about it as an adult. I grew up in Newark, DE very close to Rising Sun, MD – a major center for Ku Klux Klan activities. That town in the western part of the county became the home base of the United Klans of America in 1960, drawing its membership from the families of Klansmen who had belonged to the old Elk Klan Klavern. Their criteria for membership demands that joiners not be affiliated with either Jewish or Muslim faiths. They also must be “100% heterosexual,” of European heritage [though in some places, Italians don’t count], and born in America, though it has been said that most members join because of “tradition”. However, the tradition of this group includes intimidation, violence, and murder of minorities and people who don’t look and think like them.

Robed Ku Klux Klansmen watch from sidewalk, as black demonstrators march through Okolona, Miss., Saturday, August 26, 1978, to demand increased minority hiring. There were no major incidents reported between the 36 Klansmen and some 300 black demonstrators. The marchers said they intend to continue a boycott of area stores, which has been in progress over the past week. (AP Photo/JM)

Ku Klux Klansmen watch from sidewalk, as black demonstrators march through Okolona, Miss., August 26, 1978, to demand increased minority hiring. There were no major incidents reported between the 36 Klansmen and some 300 black demonstrators. (AP Photo/JM)

I found myself thinking – about a symbol that I found to mean something to me. The rainbow flag and I started thinking what it would be like if the KKK was carrying that flag. What if there was deep rooted racial tensions in that symbol that means something to me as a member of the LGBT community. What would I do in that situation? Well Photoshop did it’s best to help, but unfortunately there are some issues here that we can’t replicate (please finish having your little giggle then read on.)

kkk-gay-flag                               gayracists

 

 

 

 

We cannot replicate the deep rooted racial tensions present between the KKK and the Confederate Battle Flag. Now don’t get me wrong, the KKK hates the gays, and we’re not too fond of them either. But the violence directed toward the LGBT community has nothing on the suffering on Black Americans at the hands of these hateful bigots in white hoods. Honestly, it’s extremely difficult for me to understand. I was taught to value people more than symbols. I love the rainbow flag, but I love thy neighbor more. All thy neighbors, even thy bigoted neighbor (even though sometimes it’s REALLY hard).  I find myself being far more empathetic toward those who have been and are still being oppressed, and will try and make a change to better the lives of those people. The activities of the KKK instigates a certain level of rage in me that I can’t quite describe, as does all injustice and oppression. It makes me want to live up to my name. I won’t stand idly by while the quality of life continues to be diminished for other people (not just Americans, all people) because they are different. This is a nice jumping point to the topic of institutional racism, which is sort of like the KKK, but in a suit, not a dress.

Until I get the motivation to write on that subject (because I’m pretty sure work-life balance is actually a unicorn) I leave you with this, here is a map of all the known and active KKK groups in the country  CLICK HERE. Enjoy.

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One Comment

  1. An interesting thought experiment here. I definitely agree with your point, though, that there’s a difference between the LGBT community’s struggles and the struggles of the Black community – and we can’t perfectly replicate all of the history associated with the Confederate flag and its use by the KKK. But it IS an interesting way to step into the shoes of those trying to still use that symbol.

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