HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION) For the second year in a row, the city of Hollister is raising a pride flag outside city hall in honor of the LGBTQ+ community Tuesday. This year, their flag features two additional black and brown stripes to represent the Black and Latino communities.
Local Hollister residents and members of the LGBTQ+ community say to them, this was a symbol of unity and hope.
“Having this flag up will show people that even if they came through
Hollister and they drive by that, Oh, we’re welcomed here, we’re allowed to
be here, we’re allowed to exist," says Hollister resident, Maxx D'Elia.
During the gathering to raise the flag, people who attended say they felt it was a step forward.
“For me, personally, it just means that like, our city council, our
government in Hollister is standing with us and I know it’s not necessarily
an easy stand," says Hollister resident, Aislinn Barnes.
Hollister Vice Mayor Rolan Resendiz, who is an openly-gay city leader, explains this decision did not come without some challenges.
“At times, people were pushing back and there was a few different excuses
like ‘We can’t hang it on the same flag as the American Flag.' There’s also
some concern about the county as a whole not adopting any type of policy or resolution to recognize June as LGBTQ pride month," says Vice Mayor Resendiz.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ community members say that although their identities made their own experiences difficult at times, they hope raising this flag will be a gateway to more changes in the future, starting with putting an end to things like discrimination and bullying.
“I identify as a transgender man, it was a struggle to be myself because it
resulted in a lot of bullying, and you know...you don’t deserve to be alive,
you should go kill yourself," says D'Elia.
“We need legislation, we need protective measures, there’s a lot that we
need to do and I think the biggest thing is that we need to educate our
public," says Barnes.
Vice Mayor Resendiz says he hopes the city will make the flag display an annual tradition and that the city will continue to push for legislation.
“No matter how hard you’re struggling and no matter how dark things seem to
be, there are so many people out there fighting for you," says D'Elia.
Salinas, San Juan Bautista, Gilroy and Watsonville are also added to the list of cities displaying the LGBTQ+ flag this year.