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Ungodly mess 

Arroyo Grande resident Barbara Dyer is very disappointed in her city for choosing to fly a Pride flag above City Hall during the month of June.

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"I am a Christian, and I would love it if you waved a Christian flag for a month," she wrote in a public comment letter to the City Council, insisting that if the city was going to celebrate diversity, that included Christians—obviously a historically marginalized group of people in American history ... not.

"We have such a special and unique community and would hate to have these ungodly symbols shown," Catherine Talley of Talley Farms, Talley Vineyard family fame wrote in her letter. "Please keep this community the way it is. It is so special to us."

Are there only heteronormative people in Arroyo Grande, Catherine? Oops, that might be too woke a term for her. She must want to keep her fellow townsfolk white, straight, conservative, and Christian! It's the godly way.

Catherine, are you fully vaccinated by the blood of Jesus? If not, we need to talk about your values. We want to keep this community special, if you know what I mean. But before I talk to you about your lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I just have another quick question: Who do you mean by "us," Catherine?

There's also Elliot Talley, who wrote an anti-Pride flag letter to the City Council. And a strange form letter template supposedly from a "Bryon Talley," who doesn't exist as far as I can tell. Both Brian and Byron Talley work for the family companies, but only Brian spoke out against the letters.

"These comments expressed opinions that are not consistent with my views or the views of the Talley family as a whole," he wrote in a post on Talley Farms Fresh Harvest's Facebook page. "I celebrate the diversity of both the people who work in our family businesses and our larger community, just as I recognize everyone's right to express their opinion in a public forum."

Sorry, not sorry.

Why did so many people feel the need to write in to the Arroyo Grande City Council about its decision to hoist a Pride flag? Umm. Culture wars? The city has done it in the past with relatively little fanfare—and they did it again, unanimously pushing back on May 23 against everyone who engaged in their "right to express their" bigoted "opinion."

See how the First Amendment works? You express an opinion, and nobody in power has to agree with your stupidity! Ain't it grand.

Diana Vasquez requested that the city maintain its current practices of "flag flying," not realizing, I guess, that Arroyo Grande's current policy is to fly the Pride flag above City Hall during the month of June.

"There will be no end to who should be represented," she lamented.

If we allow a rainbow flag, what's next? The Mexican flag? Canada? A (gasp) pirate flag?

"Can we please hang up a white pride flag? I'm joking, but how un-American that sounds," wrote Darsie Cole—who maybe should have added: "Too soon?" "As hanging a white pride flag would be, hanging a Pride flag is also un-American. And, by the way, I have decades-long gay and lesbian friends and associates and most of them do not agree with flying a Pride flag either."

Yeesh. Darsie. Not cool. Way to throw in a not-so-novel iteration of the "I'm not a racist because I have a Black friend" trope.

The Pride flag is a symbol of visibility and diversity, celebrating a community that pushed back against everything that colluded to keep them in the shadows—gay men who were arrested, prosecuted, beaten simply for being who they were. Over the decades, that flag has become an umbrella for more marginalized people with identities that don't check society's little "godly" boxes. Gay people of color. Lesbian. Queer. Transgender. Intersex. Asexual. And so many more. The Pride flag is an ongoing conversation that evolves over time. And that's exactly what makes it so American.

Trans Americans are facing anti-trans legislation across the country right now, but this is America! The American flag represents everyone! Right? Wrong.

It represents a work in progress, clearly, based on these problematic comments and way more. But I guess it does raise the question of who gets to make the decisions about the flags our governing institutions fly. In a democracy, elected officials get to make those decisions.

Which is great for Arroyo Grande! Maybe not so great in the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, where LGBTQ-plus flags also took center stage in a May 23 discussion.

My favorite hate-watch right now, newly elected school board member Kenney Enney, was at it again, spreading his anti-LGBTQ-plus views with the pedantic prerogative that only a good ol' boy can have. This time, he said that the 2021 incident where Paso High boys ripped a Pride flag off a classroom wall, shit on it, and posted a video of the entire thing on social media was just a prank.

You know, harmless!

Superintendent Curt Dubost finally stood up to one of his idiotic board members in response, saying the incident was a culmination of LGBTQ-plus focused bullying at Paso Robles High School—something that needs to be addressed in America as a whole. Δ

The Shredder is ready for Pride in the Plaza. Send flags to [email protected].

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