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West Hollywood is not near Huntington Beach, but the reverberations of the Huntington Beach City Council’s 4-3 vote on Feb. 7 to not fly the Pride flag over City Hall in June raised concern among local officials. The new policy only allows for government flags to be flown.
“In a time where we see our country headed backwards when people are protesting drag queens, reading to children and access to care, and [the] threats to same sex marriage are continuing and increasing, to see the city of Huntington Beach no longer fly the Pride flag is disgraceful and signifies a warning of much more bigoted and hateful actions to come if we don’t band together and take action now to stop this,” West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson said.
“It is hurtful and traumatic to the LGBTQ community, not only the ones there, but the ones that would have otherwise wanted to visit Huntington Beach,” West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne said.
This was a reversal of a previous Huntington Beach City Council decision, made in June 2021, where the body voted 6-0 to fly the flag in recognition of Pride Month. The motion was met with opposition from local residents and activists, many of whom attended the meeting with signs and T-shirts.
“The decision by the Huntington Beach City Council last night was a purely ideological move that flew in the face of the countless members of the community who spoke for hours in opposition to it,” Stonewall Democratic Club president Alex Mohajer said. “In denying representation for LGBTQ people, the council is setting us back decades and the only [people] this harms are the young LGBTQ kids and families that live in the city of Huntington Beach.”
Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner issued a statement denouncing the decision.
“The greater Los Angeles area is for everyone and yet Huntington Beach officials landed on a cliche and reductive approach to making headlines: marginalizing queer Californians (and potentially, millions of tourists) in one fell swoop,” Hollendoner said. “It’s alarming and embarrassing that in 2023, on the heels of 150+ anti-LGBTQ legislations ravaging the country, this is what municipal employees are focusing on – not the unhoused, gun safety or the care of our seniors.”
Shyne assured residents that no matter what other cities might choose to do, West Hollywood will remain a bastion for LGBTQ+ people.
“West Hollywood always has been and will continue to be a safe city, for the LGBTQ community and for all,” Shyne said.
A wave of cities have started flying the Pride flag during June in recent years. Last year, the city of Beverly Hills flew the flag at City Hall in conjunction with its inaugural city-sponsored Pride events.
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