Hoisting high their rainbow flags, San Luis Obispo residents gathered at Mission Plaza for the “Show Your True Colors” rally to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA and other marginalized communities June 7 at 5 p.m. The rally, organized by The Queer Crowd and SLO County Progressives, came in response to an act of vandalism committed on San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon’s property last week in which a rainbow flag hung outside of her house was burned.
Harmon said that while finding the burned flag on her lawn was both scary and concerning, she was glad to see the community come together and take a stance.
“We’re here to say that A, that’s unacceptable, and B that that’s not going to keep allies or people in marginalized communities from standing up for what’s right,” Harmon said. “This event of the flag burning is not representative of San Luis Obispo.”
Video by Allison Royal
Ryan O’Byrne, founding member of activist organization The Queer Crowd and co-organizer of the rally, shared Harmon’s sentiment.
“We’re here to show our support for anyone who is falling victim to those kinds of empty threats, especially if they turn into acts of violence,” he said. “We’re standing with those people, showing our support for them, and making sure that we are celebrating at the same time our queer community.”
The rally consisted of several speeches made by local activists, including political science junior Matt Klepfer of Queer Student Union and biological sciences freshman Bethany Porta of Queer and Trans People of Color. Their speeches emphasized the importance of recognizing the intersectionality within the LGBTQIA community and standing with those who are undocumented, trans and people of color. Representatives from San Luis Obispo Gay and Lesbian Alliance, House of Pride and Equality, SLO Queerdos and St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church also spoke.
The speeches were followed by a march to Higuera Street, where participants lined both sides of the road waving rainbow flags and banners. Passing cars honked in support; some had their own flags waving out of their windows.
Harmon said she encourages people in elected positions to join her in taking a stance against bigotry, and that the rally was “the silver lining” to events like the flag-burning.
“I think when we talk about SLO being the happiest place in North America, this is what we’re talking about,” Harmon said.