Another rainbow flag story

rainbow flagI wrote a while back about my wife and I replacing the American flag on our front porch with a rainbow flag after the events of Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville.

The story after we first put the flag up was: the next-door neighbor was, for some reason, personally insulted afterward, revealing himself to be a dickhead, telling us he wasn’t going to talk to us anymore, which, fine.

Better story to tell today.

The wife and I were out doing yard work this past weekend, and a woman came up to say hi, and thank us for flying the rainbow flag.

Turns out she’s a neighbor, from down the street, and also usually very shy.

She said more than a few times that she never does things like this, walking up to strangers unannounced to initiate a conversation.

She was wearing a U.S. Army hat and a Stop Suicide T-shirt.

Both were very personal to her.

She’s an Army veteran, and has attempted suicide twice.

She explained to us that she’d been married, had kids, now has grandkids, but came to realize that she’d been living a lie.

She told us that she hadn’t come out publicly yet, but is in a relationship, and has told a few people close to her.

No doubt, her issues with depression stem from a lifetime of having to live a double life.

The Stop Suicide T-shirt connected her to my wife. Crystal recently served as the state coordinator for a suicide-prevention group, and lost her identical twin sister to suicide when they were 15 years old.

We decided to fly the rainbow flag on our front porch as an attempt to make some sort of positive public statement after the awful events of Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, where a rally of white supremacists resulted in the deaths of three people, and famously brought President Trump down on the side of the “fine people” among the hatemongers.

Our thought was that flying the rainbow flag on our porch would signal to neighbors and people driving by on busy Wayne Avenue where we stand on that nonsense.

The next-door neighbor’s response was disappointing, of course, but his has been the only nonsense.

The flag helped us meet this neighbor, plus another couple, new to town, who have stopped by twice, just to say hi.

A retired couple stopped to talk to my wife one day while I was out running, and left a box of treats for our dogs on our front porch last week.

And the other next-door neighbor is now flying a rainbow flag on his front porch.

Waynesboro has a reputation for being the conservative oddball among Virginia cities, which are almost always liberal-leaning, and, honestly, I sometimes wonder why we put up with the stupid stuff that goes on here on a regular basis, and how nice it would be to live in a place where the majority of people don’t hold misguided notions on race, gender, public policy, whether the earth really is round or not, and the rest.

The conversation in our yard this past weekend is why.

It’s easy to be progressive in Charlottesville, in Northern Virginia, in California. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on Waynesboro being able to come to its senses just yet.

Column by Chris Graham


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