LANCASTER – Dressed in purple Tuesday night, Antelope Valley’s gay community and its supporters hoped to send a strong message out to the public.
“We’re wearing purple to represent equality and family,” said Aaron Gomez, 21, president of the OUT Project, a youth program that provides support systems to the AV’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. “The Antelope Valley Fair is about families and about different cultures, so we are here to represent because we are a part of this community too.”
“We’ve seen people shy away from things like this because they are afraid and because of the fear people bring to them,” said OUT Project member Mario Vasquez, 16. “And we’re speaking for them.”
The gay community and dozens of supporters donned purple to the Antelope Valley Fair Tuesday to show solidarity for “Everyone’s Family Day,” a movement created in response to the recent controversy surrounding the decision to remove rainbow-striped flags from the Antelope Valley Fair. Organizers were reportedly unaware of the connection to the gay community when they put up hundreds of rainbow flags at the Fair Grounds. But after receiving an anonymous complaint, organizers scrambled to remove the rainbow flags so as not to “offend anyone.”
“We are not trying to make a statement,” said Fair GM Dan Jacobs last week.
But they did make a statement – a negative statement to the LGBT community.
“I think it really sent a negative message to our community, especially the LGBT youth,” said Vasquez. “And it was not okay.”
The LGTB community group rallied together to appeal to the Fair’s Executive Board.
“We had everyone that we know just call and bombard them with messages and emails and tell them that we don’t like that they took (the flags) down based off of one person,” said OUT Project member Ashley Moody, 16. “We don’t feel that they are offensive. No one is being offended by them.”
The group received a small victory when Fair organizers agreed to a compromise to place a handful of rainbow flags back at the Fair Grounds.
Gomez says the small gesture proves that the LGBT community can and will be heard.
“We are here and we are all part of this community,” said Gomez. “We all have families, we’re students, we’re brothers, we’re sisters, we’re just like you, we’re not some sick little subculture … we are good people.”