Will Pride Flag Fly in Front of Easton Town Hall?

June is designated as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the Board of Selectmen will determine how and where a flag-raising ceremony will occur in town this year when it meets on Thursday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. The agenda is available here.

Pride flags are already raised in neighboring towns. Westport is flying the rainbow Pride flag in front of Town Hall, and Monroe has eight Pride flags surrounding Old Glory on Main Street as well as in front of the Monroe Town Hall. Last week the Pride flag was raised at a ceremony in front of the Trumbull Town Hall.

In Trumbull, the LGBTQ+ Pride flag flies alongside the Connecticut flag and the Gold Star flag. — Kathleen McGannon Photo

Last year, Easton raised the Pride Flag for the first time. It flew below the American flag in front of Town Hall for one week. Eastonite Elliot Leonard was central to that effort. “Pride is an issue that extends well beyond Easton [and] crosses all party lines,” Leonard said. “We live in a diverse world and we’ve made major advances here.”

First Selectman David Bindelglass agreed to add an item to the June 3 agenda to discuss a request to raise the Pride Flag on the flag pole outside of Town Hall and hold a flag-raising ceremony to honor the LGBTQ+ community. The request is to hold a ceremony on Friday, June 25.

“I was very fortunate to attend last year’s inaugural Pride Flag raising event at Town Hall,” resident Devon Wible said. “The event reaffirmed that Pride month is about celebrating our LGBTQ+ community members and the contributions that they have made in Easton and throughout our state, country, and world.

“Last year, we committed to honoring Pride month every year, which is why it’s essential that we continue this tradition by raising the Pride Flag and publicly affirming that every Easton resident is welcome and supported in embracing their true self,” Wible said.

Elliot Leonard of Easton speaks at the Easton Town Hall Gay Pride 2020 — Bob Lessler Photo

But some residents objected to the protocol of last-year’s flag-raising ceremony. There were questions from residents about how and where the Pride flag should be flown this year and in future years. Some hoped a separate flagpole elsewhere in town could be constructed for the Pride flag as well as flags representing other special interests. There were no explicit objections to recognizing the LGBTQ+ community in Easton.

Selectman Kristi Sogofsky indicated some residents had voiced more general concerns about flag-sharing. She suggested that only the American flag, the Connecticut state flag, and the town flag should be flown in front of Town Hall and that perhaps there should be another way to display special interest flags and banners.

One resident expressed concern about what other special interest groups might want to be recognized and that some of these groups might be objectionable. Sogofsky was asked what other groups requested a flag display and she said there had been no others to date.

Most who offered alternatives to flag sharing prefaced their ideas with support for the LGBTQ+ community, which produced skepticism from members of that community. Two students expressed a preference for proximity to the American flag at Town Hall as they identify as Americans and members of the Easton community.

“Pride and all aspects of diversity are part of an evolutionary process,” Elliot said. “Children are integral to that process … and Easton has gone further than I ever expected.”

Leonard and his partner of 51 years, Roger Litz, established a foundation to fund organizations that advance the interests and well-being of the LGBTQ community. More information about their mission can be found at https://leonardlitz.org.

As to the Pride flag raising, the selectmen agreed to look into options and plan to vote on the request at their June 17 regular meeting. Sarah Lehberger said she hopes for a positive outcome.

“I applaud the efforts of our Board of Selectmen who are listening to our community’s needs, and I hope they’ll choose to raise the Pride flag at Town Hall again this year and join the many towns and cities in Connecticut that celebrate and affirm all of their residents,” she said.

Lehberger is leading another celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride month. Eastonites are invited to a family event at Morehouse Park at the Samual Staples Elementary School pavilion on June 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. where a program of activities will highlight local pride resources, pride books, yard games and music in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m thrilled and honored about the event,” said Leonard. “Sarah Lehberger has taken the lead and I’m very proud of her.”

LGBTQ+ Pride flags surround Old Glory on the Stepney green in Monroe. — Jane Paley Photo

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