The city removed the flag, a prominent LGBT symbol, yesterday. It was raised on City Hall in June after Larry Block, owner of the Block Party clothing store and a candidate in the 2015 council race, made a public appeal at a council meeting. Block said then that “…the rainbow flag on our City Hall … says to every gay, lesbian and transgender kid, ‘You’re welcome here’.” Forty percent of the city’s 34,000 residents are gay men.
But in November, the Council, four of whose five members are gay men, voted to give City Manager Paul Arevalo discretion in choosing which unofficial flags can fly at City Hall. A city ordinance requires that the U.S. and California flags be flown.
Arevalo can decide on flying other unofficial flags at City Hall for special occasions and to fly the U.S. flag at half mast in recognition of a tragedy or someone’s death.
Block donated the flag that has been flying at City Hall. In a letter to Arevalo that he shared with WEHOville, he asked that it be returned it the city will not use it again.
“… if your intent is to continue to use it again then I’m honored. If not, may I get it back?,” he wrote. “Tears rolled down my face when the rainbow flag waved above city hall…… it’s too hard to explain to a straight guy (Arevalo is heterosexual) who may not have the sensitivity to the struggles of the LGBT community. Taking the rainbow flag down is one more way West Hollywood is shedding some of it’s LGBT identity.”
The city’s Public Information Office issued a statement saying: “At its November 18, 2013 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to affirm the practice of displaying only the official flags of the United States, the State of California, and the City of West Hollywood on public facilities and to fly the flags at half-mast in recognition of a tragedy or someone’s death. The decision also affirmed the policy of displaying unofficial flags on public property and public facilities for special occasions such as the month of November for Transgender Awareness Month and June for Gay Pride month. However, the rainbow flags will continue to fly permanently on flagpoles in the medians along Santa Monica Boulevard between Robertson and La Cienega Boulevards.”