Holly noticed something strange when she was told that she would have to take down her rainbow flag due to a policy banning decorations – specifically, that she was the only person in the Cherrywood Apartments complex the policy was being enforced against. According to a report from Distractify, after her efforts to address the issue were stonewalled by management, she took to image-sharing site Imgur under the name “RainbowGirl2016” to share her story. Holly said that she put the flag up after the election to show solidarity with the local LGBTQ community following the election.
She started by taking a brief tour of the neighborhood. “I took a quick jaunt around the complex,” she wrote, “and found the following violations, all of which were up and visible tonight, 12/1/16.”
She followed with a list of 12 of her neighbors violating the policy against “hanging plants, chimes, decorations, lights” with impunity, and said that she would be happy to remove her rainbow flag (and put it in her window instead) as soon as she saw the policy being enforced equally.
“Many of these would have been visible on your walk from the front office to my porch.”
After her email was ignored, she went down to the office herself to get some answers from the apartment manager. He told her that “seasonal” decorations were ok, but pride flags were not. “Can I get that in writing?,” she asked. “No.”
She pressed the manager to state unequivocally that “Christian holiday decorations are ok but gay pride decorations are not?”
“They aren’t necessarily Christmas decorations,” he said.
“Mine is just stripes of rainbow fabric. It’s not necessarily gay.”
He ended the conversation by telling her that they allowed seasonal, short term decorations, specifically mentioning Veterans Day and the Fourth of July as days where it would be appropriate to hang an American flag.
Sending the company another email to clarify what seasonal decor was, exactly, she received a formal reply from the corporate Resident Services and Claims Management Department: No, her flag was not allowed, the policies were absolutely enforced equally and without regard to the content of the decorations, and that they “vehemently denied” any accusations of selective enforcement.
Undaunted, Holly continued to push, again asking them to define exactly what they meant by holiday decorations. Meanwhile, she did capitulate and made sure that her flag was in compliance with the rule.
She took the opportunity to add a new decoration which was in compliance with policy: a rainbow flower in a pride flag pot. Later, she added rainbow “Christmas” lights.
But this cloud has a silver lining. Or possibly a rainbow.
Holly went several more rounds with complex management. “This morning at the office I was told temporary, seasonal displays were allowed…. I cannot find this provision anywhere in my lease.”
“I will continue to demand equal enforcement under the rules as stated in my lease.”
Meanwhile, her story went viral, earning a share from former Star Trek actor (and current internet activist) George Takei on Facebook. “The reasons behind flagging this decoration seem flimsy,” Takei said.’ And with her story taking off, the management at Cherrywood Apartments seems to have taken a step back.
“We won!,” Holly said on Imgur. “Everyone’s decorations (mine & neighbors) can stay through Jan 1, when complex will rewrite its decor policy & enforce it equally!!!!”
So, Holly gets to keep her flag, her neighbors get to keep their Christmas decorations, and the policy will – theoretically – be updated, clarified, and enforced across the board. Everyone wins.
But it can’t be ignored that it took a lot of negative publicity before they gave an inch, and that’s reason for concern.
[Featured Image by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images]