OPINION: You can’t steal our pride

Pictured is a pride flag. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ren Sikes | Opinions Editor

I’m sorry, dear readers, for my absence. I suppose this is a good thing. After all, no news is good news right? 

Well I‘m back, and this time we are hitting close to home. At about 2:40 p.m. Monday UD students received an email from the student announcements mailbox notifying us of “thefts on campus motivated by bias.” 

Pride flags have been stolen from the Spectrum House twice this semester. Once over fall break and at 2 a.m. on Oct. 30th per the email. What’s worse, is this is not the first time it has happened. No…it’s happened in past years as well. In 2019 former Flyer News Opinions Editor Mary McLoughlin and Online Editor-in-Chief Sean Newhouse wrote two separate pieces regarding the thefts that occurred in Sept. and Nov. of 2019. 

According to the email from the UD Announcements Mailbox, a lesbian pride flag was taken around 2 a.m. Oct. 30 along with a progress and aromantic pride flag. Both were taken over fall break. 

In the email, UD stated that “The South Ally House has been a target of bias-related thefts multiple times over the past years, which contributes to a feeling of being unsafe or unwelcome for members of the LGBTQ+ community and affects everyone on our campus.” 

It’s nice to be acknowledged, but it doesn’t exactly make me feel any better. 

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a UD student, this felt personal. Not only has this occurred twice in the past five years, but it feels like the university doesn’t know what to do. At least that is what it feels like from my side of the story. 

I can’t exactly blame them though, how do you come back from that? Besides doing an investigation – which takes time. Or reimbursing the house for the stolen items – which takes money and sets a precedent that will become very expensive very fast. There isn’t much more the university can do to immediately solve this problem. 

Pride flags are a way for LGBTQ+ people to express themselves and their identity. The south ally house is meant to represent those of us on campus who share these identities. It is meant to be a safe space, and when people defile or damage it…it doesn’t feel safe anymore. 

Inclusivity and diversity are one of the two major points the university harps on. When incidents like this happen, that inclusivity and diversity go out the window. People will no longer feel safe being themselves if things like this keep happening. 

LGBTQ+ people have been dealing with this kind of hate for decades and the fight isn’t over yet. Between legislation that aims to end gender affirming care and stop schools from talking about the LGBTQ+ community, to the Supreme Court hoping to overturn gay marriage – there is a lot of things going against us right now. Not to mention the generationally built homophobia, religious stigma and lack of education that makes existing in this world difficult on a daily basis. 

The best way that the university and other allies can help is to educate themselves and their peers, annihilate stereotypes, avoid misinformation and nurture understanding. There is no easy fix to this problem. People will always be problematic. Old habits die hard; flags will likely continue to be stolen. 

The only thing that we can do as a community is keep fighting. Keep putting up new flags. Keep being ourselves and keep being proud. 

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