I got a link to this story in one of my email newsletters and thought it was just too funny (and disturbing) not to share. There are actually two versions of the story - one from a local news channel and one on PlanetOut. Feel free to click on the links and read them for yourselves.
In summary, the story is about a guy and his wife who run a small restaurant and Bed & Breakfast in Meade, KS (between Dodge City and Liberal) and the fallout they're facing for hanging a rainbow flag outside their establishment. The local newspaper ran a story (without talking to them about it first) explaining to people that the flag is a symbol of gay pride, so now the town is boycotting. He had a radio station threaten to pull his ads from the air and a pastor tell him it was like putting a pair of women's underwear on a pole - huh?!?!?!
What makes this story so funny is that the flag wasn't put up to convey any kind of political or social message. It was a gift from the guy's son who got it at the Wizard of Oz museum because it reminded him of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I don't know how old the son is, and if there weren't other meanings in the gift, but I think it's hilarious that something that could be so benign is causing so much of a ruckus. Ah, small town America. The other funny thing is the way in which this guy is responding. He told the pastor he would consider his suggestion (the women's underpants) and has told people that when this flag wears out, he'll buy another one and continue to replace it like he would his American flag (which is also hung proudly outside the building). He can't believe how much this has affected people and refuses to cave in to their overreactions. Good for him!!
I think the one comment that got me the most was one of the neighbors who said (paraphrased) that hanging the rainbow flag in their conservative town was like hanging the Nazi flag in a Jewish neighborhood. Whoa. I have to think about that. This is America and we all have freedom of speech, so the guy can say whatever he wants, but is it really THAT dramatic?! Most of the townspeople didn't seem to know what the flag meant (or could mean to some people) before the newspaper article. It makes me wonder what will happen when someone in the town comes out of the closet - or if that will ever happen now. Anyway, it sounds like the guy's business has lost a lot of local people but is still doing okay thanks to out of town guests. Perhaps someday we'll take a mini-vacation to Meade, KS....