The Human Rights Campaign has launched the Reality Flag campaign, a nationwide public awareness effort to galvanize public support for the Equality Act, federal legislation that would ensure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.
At the heart of the campaign is the evocative Reality Flag — an altered version of the American flag with 29 of its stars removed, representing each of the 29 states lacking comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people, underscoring the ‘reality’ that millions of LGBTQ+ people lack a number of protections and basic freedoms.
The Reality Flag campaign aims to bring its message and powerful imagery to audiences both on and offline: As the campaign debuts at RealityFlag.com and across a number of national media platforms, an 85-foot-long banner featuring the “Reality Flag” will be unfurled and fanned out across the front of the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., just six blocks from the White House.
The campaign’s most compelling content launches in a series of powerful video ads created by Emmy Award-winning director, producer, and creator of Amazon’s Transparent Joey Soloway, who showcases the real stories and lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people impacted by discrimination — using the video vignettes to not only underscore the urgent need for the Equality Act, but to also inspire and move audiences to take action.
“The Reality Flag campaign is designed to point out the inequalities LGBTQ+ individuals face every day – in our own voice,” said Joni Madison, interim president at the Human Rights Campaign. “From housing and educational discrimination to denial of government and health services, LGBTQ+ people are confronted by hurdles to simply exist every day. Something is seriously wrong when state legislatures around the country are attacking LGBTQ+ rights for political purposes, forcing families to pack up their homes and move to another state so their children can have equal rights and legal protections. This needs to change. The Reality Flag not only calls out the 29 states where basic freedoms are still missing for millions of people, but stands as a symbol of hope that communities can rally behind to enact meaningful change.”
Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people have reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives. The Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life — including housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. Millions of LGBTQ+ people in the United States remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, surcharged unnecessarily for goods and services, or denied health care, home loans, taxis/car-sharing, and government services in a majority of states simply because of who they love or who they are.
“When I was approached about partnering with HRC on this campaign, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately signed on — not only because of the important opportunity to help lift up stories and amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ people across the country, but because I believe this campaign has the potential to fundamentally shift the conversation around equality in a way that brings more people together than ever before to ensure we are all equally protected and represented under the law” Soloway said. “Just meeting and working with the amazing LGBTQ+ people who shared their stories of discrimination in front of the camera meant so much to so many of us behind the camera — especially since a majority in our production crew identify as LGBTQ+ and could relate to the experiences of the brave storytellers we worked with. It’s an honor to be able to do this work, and to be a part of this important campaign.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act last February, putting the rights of millions of people under law for millions of people in the hands of the U.S. Senate. The Equality Act ensures LGBTQ+ people can live free from fear of harassment and discrimination by guaranteeing the same federal anti-discrimination protections and basic freedoms that others have enjoyed for decades — and expands protections for women, people of color, and people of all faiths.
“Many LGBTQ+ people across the country are still missing the basic freedoms that millions of others enjoy,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president, policy & political affairs, at HRC. “Too many people — both those directly affected and those who aren’t — are not fully aware of the true scope of the disparities. The Reality Flag is intended to be a wakeup call for the country. By bringing attention to the stories of those whose rights are being curtailed, the campaign will build support for action to bring an end to those disparities.”
The Equality Act has been endorsed by more than 630 organizations, including civil rights, education, health care, and faith-based organizations. It is backed by more than 500 companies employing more than 15.3 million people across 33 U.S. states with a combined annual revenue of $7.2 trillion.
It has overwhelming support among business and corporate leaders, which includes more than 60 business associations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers — and more than 160 Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, General Electric, Harley-Davidson, Home Depot, Honeywell, Kraft Heinz, Levi Strauss & Co., and Target, among many others.