An Abbotsford woman woke Tuesday to find the Pride flag hanging on her porch had been torn down and left at her front door in tatters.
Lia Bishop has hung the flag from her porch for the last several years during the spring and summer to build visibility and show support and inclusivity for the LGBTQ community, of which she is a member. She found her flag Tuesday morning up on the floor of her deck. It had been ripped or cut up, and a hose and other deck materials had been used to prevent the flag from flying away in the wind.
Bishop, who reported the incident to police and will be replacing the flag, said it was clear that the perpetrators wanted to send a message.
But Bishop, a sociology instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley, didn’t find the act of vandalism surprising, and said it illustrates the need for displays of pride in the first place.
“It is deeply disturbing that someone or some people took the effort to come onto my property in the middle of the night with the sole aim of destroying a symbol of acceptance,” Bishop wrote in an email.
“For me, it’s not about the mere vandalism of property, it’s about what specifically was targeted and the manner in which it was destroyed and left. More importantly, it’s about addressing why this specific symbol was attacked and what this says about the presence of intolerance and homophobia in our community today.”
Bishop said the incident shouldn’t be considered a single malicious act, but one that reflects lingering homophobia.
“I hope Abbotsford wholeheartedly rejects this form of hate, or any other for that matter, and takes a proactive approach to building a more inclusive community for every human being and social identity,” she said. “There’s so many people doing that great work already.”
Bishop is correct that vandalism of Pride symbols isn’t rare.
Last month, three Pride flags were stolen from the home of a Langley woman. The Township of Langley had previously removed a Pride flag from the woman’s house.
In Ladner, vandals defaced a Pride flag flown by the local United Church twice in 12 days.
And rainbow crosswalks across the province have been deliberately defaced, often shortly after being painted.
Mayor Henry Braun said Thursday that he was “saddened” to hear of the vandalism and that it didn’t have a place in the community.
“This is a form of bullying,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that there are people who they they have the freedom to do this to demonstrate that they don’t agree [with a person].
“We have an obligation to love our neighbour. My neighbour isn’t the person who lives next door to me. My neighbour is the person who crosses my path on a daily basis, from morning to evening.”