In a move to settle the ongoing rainbow flag controversy, West Hollywood’s City Council voted unanimously tonight to adopt a new city flag that incorporates the rainbow colors.
This new city flag will have a white background and a rainbow-colored logo in tiny square blocks representing the shape of the city. It will replace the current city flags with a blue background and white blocks flying throughout the city.
“I’m so happy; the rainbow will now fly all over the city as part of the city flag,” said resident Larry Block, who has been pushing to get the full rainbow flag back flying over the City Hall building ever since it was removed on Jan/ 8. “This is a big win for the LGBT community.”
The rainbow-colored logo in the shape of the city is already an official logo of the city; the Council adopted it more than a decade ago. It’s currently seen on L.A. County Sheriff’s patrol cars assigned to West Hollywood and some other city documents.
“The rainbow flag over City Hall is an important part of who we are,” said Councilmember Jeffrey Prang. “This is a good compromise [to incorporate the rainbow city logo into the new city flag.”
City Manager Paul Arevalo is not sure how long it will take to get these new flags made, but said they would be flying as soon as possible.
With this vote, the Council hopes to put to rest the controversy that erupted when the rainbow flag was removed from the top of the City Hall building at 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. at Sweetzer, after flying there for six months. Removal of that flag sparked a heated debate not just among West Hollywood residents, but also from gay activists across the globe. Mainstream media also covered the controversy with the Los Angeles Times and local television and radio outlets devoting stories to it.
Councilmember John D’Amico was pleased the removal sparked lively debate in the city. “The personal is again political,” he said.
The rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBT rights, first went up in June 2013, Gay Pride month, when Block urged the city to put it up on City Hall as a symbol of welcome for gay people. Councilmember Jeffrey Prang concurred that it should be there, and the flag was flying atop the building two days later. Block has subsequently announced his candidacy for City Council in the March 2015 election.
Councilmember John Duran, one of four gay members of the Council, was absent from that June meeting as he participating in the annual AIDS LifeCycle bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Upon his return, Duran repeatedly voice his opposition, saying the rainbow flag should not fly over City Hall and that only official flags – the U.S., California, and City of West Hollywood flags – should be there.
In November, the City Council voted unanimously to turn the matter over City Manager Paul Arevalo, who is heterosexual. While it was Arevalo who opted to take the flag down, the councilmembers took the brunt of the criticism, with many people saying removing the flag was evidence that the city was turning its back on its gay roots. Forty percent of West Hollywood’s population is composed of gay men, and the city long has been known for its acceptance of LGBT people.
At Monday’s meeting, Duran continued to argue against the full rainbow flag flying over City Hall, but voted to support the compromise flag design.
The Council also voted to add flagpoles to fly the rainbow flag and the transgender flag in Matthew Shepard Triangle on the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard at Crescent Heights Boulevard.