Lifeguard Flies Rainbow Flag From His Stand, Beachgoers Complain He’ll Only Save Gay Swimmers

A North Carolina beach town is changing its policies after a lifeguard flew a rainbow flag — commonly associated with the LGBTQ community — and some beachgoers expressed concern that he was only going to rescue gay people, WECT (Wilmington) is reporting.

Lifeguard Zach Hupp was on duty on the shores of Carolina Beach on the Fourth of July when, in a show of support for the gay community (and in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states), he flew a rainbow flag from his lifeguard stand.

“Pretty much immediately someone complained. Told one of the other lifeguards that they thought because I was flying that flag that I would only rescue gay people.”

As Raw Story notes, the flags present on beaches are important for conveying information — such as surf conditions — to swimmers, boaters, fishers, and such. And one beachgoer used that pretext to complain about the presence of the rainbow flag.

“I was on the North End today, with about 35 friends, when it was pointed out that Lifeguard Tower #37 was not only flying a yellow flag, but also a gay and lesbian flag. As a long-time resident, I understand the importance of the caution flags, utilized by the lifeguards, but any other flag I thought was prohibited. Being the Fourth of July, an American Flag would have been more appropriate. I didn’t know how to explain this one to the tourists who asked us about it. Some knew exactly what type of flag it was, others wondered if it had anything to do with the ocean conditions. I hope that you can reply with a reasonable explanation.”

This week, Fire Chief Alan Griffin ordered that only flags authorized by the town of Carolina Beach or the U.S. Lifesaving Association will be flown at the city’s beaches – and those flags will be the ones that stick with conveying information to the beachgoers, and nothing else.

“Each [flag] has a different representation, and we always tell beach patrons to swim near a guard and always look at the flag and the flags will tell you what’s going on on the beach. We don’t want anything that we flagged or waved off the stands that could be misconstrued other than the fact that it’s telling them what the current conditions are…Only things issued to you from the town should be displayed on the stands, and if anything is being altered then it will be done through administration.”

Lifeguard Zach says he was given a warning for flying the rainbow flag from his stand and told not to do it again.

[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/Natasha Kramskaya]

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