Rainbow flag to fly over Encinitas City Hall this month

Encinitas Councilman Joe Mosca launches the pride flag skyward, as Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Councilman Tony Kranz and Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze celebrate Wednesday afternoon.

A rainbow-colored, pride flag now flies above Encinitas City Hall.

In a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, June 19, the Encinitas City Council agreed to hoist the flag and keep it flying throughout the remainder of June, which is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer month.

The council’s decision comes just days after California’s governor requested the rainbow flag fly over the state Capitol in a counter-action to President Trump’s recent decision to ban U.S. embassies from flying it.

Encinitas appears to be the only city in the county that is commemorating Pride Month by flying the pride flag. The Carlsbad City Council next week will consider a proclamation declaring June LGBTQ+ Pride month, said spokeswoman Kristina Ray, and while there is nothing specific about a flag, “that could come up as part of the discussion.”

Encinitas Councilman Joe Mosca, a married gay man with two adopted children, put forward the idea of flying the pride flag at City Hall. Noting that he is the city’s first openly gay council member, Mosca said he wouldn’t be where he was today if gay pride activists in the past hadn’t bravely stood up and fought for their rights. It was time, he said, to return that favor.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Mosca had no trouble persuading her to support his flag proposal, saying it was “really important in these political times” for Encinitas to fly the flag given the rising wave of intolerance sweeping the country.

At the flag-raising gathering, Blakespear wore a rainbow slash that she said she received at a U.S. mayors’ conference last year in Boston when the nation’s mayors marched in a gay pride parade. She said she had kept it for just such an event as Wednesday’s flag-raising.

Members of the LGBTQ community, as well as their relatives and friends, attended both the afternoon flag-raising meeting and the council’s regular meeting Wednesday night, June 1`9, where the council approved a proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in Encinitas. At both events, speakers told the council that the symbolic value of seeing the rainbow flag flying above City Hall couldn’t be understated, and some had tears in their eyes as they talked.

Dylan Davison, a lifelong Encinitas resident who is an assistant at Palomar College’s Pride Center, told the council during Wednesday afternoon’s meeting that he wished the city had flown the flag when he was a child.

“I think if I ... was able to see that flag, my coming-out process would have been easier,” he said. “It would have shown a lot more support for me and I wouldn’t have waited until I was 24 to come out.”

Encinitas resident Louise Julig, the mother of a gay daughter, told council members that she hoped their decision would be copied by many other cities in California and the nation.

“I think this is awesome and I want to take a picture of that flag and send it to my daughter,” she said.

Her daughter is a summer intern at the Denver Post and recently wrote a front-page article on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City and what it has meant for Colorado residents, she said.

The Stonewall riots began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, in the Greenwich Village area of New York City after police launched one of their frequent raids on places where members of the gay community regularly gathered. Gay people, angry about the constant harassment by police, fought back and the gay rights movement was born.

The following year, there were gay pride parades in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York on the Stonewall anniversary, and the movement continued to grow, with advocacy groups forming throughout the nation. June is now celebrated as LGBTQ pride month and the Stonewall Inn has become a national historic landmark.
-- Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union Tribune