Pride flags being showcased in Poulsbo on Front Street this month continue to be a hot topic, which was evident at the June 7 City Council meeting.
During public comments, most people voiced their pleasure with the council voting to put Pride flags on Front Street downtown in June, while one person was not in favor. Many emails sent to city leaders also were unfavorable.
Claudia Gorbman thanked the governing body for its action. She said she spoke to nearly 40 business owners on Front Street, and only two weren’t supportive of the flags. “They are so colorful, and they made me so happy to go to work today,” she said.
But Mary Lou Long was critical of devoting an entire month to Pride flags being displayed. She asked questions like: “Who came up with this monthlong celebration of the LGBTQ+ group?”; “Are they grooming children?”; and “Has the government ever celebrated the pro-creating community?”
In response, Pam Keeley condemned Long’s comments. “When I came out 50 years ago it was a really different landscape,” she said. “We didn’t have the public support we do now…the obsessive focus on sexualization is coming from fear that is kind of irrational.”
Christine Campbell added: “I am a proud heterosexual, and I am so proud to support anybody who has love in their heart, no matter who it’s for. Thank you so much for your support and showing that we as a community support all the people of our community, not just one group.”
Councilmembers also spoke on the Pride flags and comments they heard. Gary McVey said: “For me, it’s not about sex, it’s not about religion, it’s not about politics. It’s about human rights and standing up against discrimination, and it’s about Poulsbo being a welcoming and inclusive community.”
Britt Livdahl was passionate about standing up for the LGBTQ+ community. She mentioned she received emails from community members saying Poulsbo should just display the Norwegian flag. The councilmember pointed out a 2021 report that stated Norway was the third-most accepting country in the world regarding LBGTQ+ communities.
“I would really ask those people to think about what Norway represents as a group of people,” she said. “Norway is one of the most progressive countries in the world.
“The emails we’ve been getting have been pretty full of ignorance and hate, and it’s been disturbing,” Livdahl went on to say. “Reducing humans to their sexual orientation or gender identity is kind of dehumanizing. I am more than the person I choose to sleep with.”
On the other hand, Connie Lord, who voted against displaying the flags, said they should be neutral on issues like this.
“The dismay they had of us getting off a neutral stance was expressed pretty well by most of them in the sense that they don’t see any reason to cause further (divisiveness) in our community,” Lord said about the emails she received.