The Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to hold the LGBTQ+ Pride flag raising ceremony on Friday, June 25 at 5 p.m. Selectmen Bindelglass and Lessler voted in favor and Selectwoman Sogofsky abstained. The flag will fly until sundown on June 28.
Some Easton residents commented at the June 3 selectmen meeting that they would prefer that special interest flags and banners be displayed at another location in town or on a separate pole. They felt that the town flagpole should be reserved only for the American flag, Connecticut State flag and Easton Town flag.
During last night’s selectmen meeting, public support for the ceremony at Town Hall was strong. Sara Hunsucker, who initially requested the flag raising event, suggested that it is “a little gesture that says you are welcome and that we [the LGBTQ+ community] are enriching the flagpole.” She thanked the board for approving her request.
Elliot Leonard also spoke in favor of the flag raising. “Easton cannot be a town of ‘no,'” he said.
Kevin Rodrigue disagreed and spoke in opposition to the flag raising. “The American flag represents everyone,” he said. “There’s no need to raise the Pride flag on public property.”
The option to fly a Pride flag at a separate location or on a separate pole was revisited and discussed, and the selectmen seemed inclined to consider those options as a longterm compromise in the future. After taking these and other comments into consideration, the selectmen voted in favor of raising the Pride flag at Town Hall this year, but wrestled with differing points of view going forward. Nevertheless, the Pride community was pleased with the result.
Agnes Bebon, a recent Barlow student and advocate for LGBTQ+ recognition who has spoken at both BOS and school board meetings, was thankful for the outcome. “I am so glad to see that the Board of Selectmen showed leadership in supporting our community by approving the raising of the Pride flag,” Bebon said. “Raising the Pride flag at Town Hall shows us that we are welcome and safe here, something that means a lot to me having been raised in Easton.”
Longtime Easton resident Devon Wible’s reaction was positive as well. “I am thrilled that the Board of Selectmen approved raising the Pride flag in front of Town Hall in honor of Pride month,” she said. “I am proud that our town is celebrating our LGBTQ+ community and working toward creating a welcoming and safe town for every person. I look forward to attending the flag raising on 6/25 and the Easton Pride CT celebration on June 25.”
Sarah Lehberger, who organized the Pride celebration, offered a heartfelt summation, acknowledging everyone in Easton who engaged in the dialogue.
“I would like to recognize the courage that has been applied to our flag raising conversations, both by our elected officials and our citizens of Easton, including the young adults, parents, allies and more,” she said. “Pride month celebrates who we may be individually and who we can be as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
“It celebrates the dignity, compassion and respect that each of us deserves, and protects the freedoms embodied in the Pride Flag as it sits in its rightful place under the Stars and Stripes. I am grateful to our Board of Selectmen for honoring the LGBTQ+ community’s dreams, diversity and struggles, and I hope that the community feels safe, valued, represented and supported in Easton this month and every single day that follows.I feel a great sense of pride in being a part of a community that sees the full humanity of its residents, and leads through actions that prove we love thy neighbor.”
The LGBTQ+ Pride celebration will take place from 1 – 4 p.m. at Morehouse Park. For additional information updates, follow Easton Pride on Facebook.
A video recording of the entire June 17 meeting including public comments can be accessed at https://vimeo.com/showcase/7815363/video/564471693.