Thirty LGBTQ Pride flags were raised this year at Montgomery County public spaces, including youth centers, correctional facilities, emergency operations centers, courthouses, local parks, and administration buildings for numerous municipalities across the county. Many areas held celebratory events for their flag raisings, and several of them — including Whitpain, Abington, and Upper Gwynedd townships — raised the flag for the first time.
“A few years ago, raising flags in those municipalities would have been hard to do,” said Richard R. Buttacavoli, founder of the Montgomery County LGBT Business Council. “What I am impressed with is that many of the elected officials who made the decision to raise flags are up for reelection, and regardless, [they] made the decision to raise the flags “for the kids.” This year, it has been about our youth, with LGBT youth homelessness and suicide at an all time high. I think that is mainly why these folks raised flags, even to save one life.”
Many of the municipalities who raised flags this year have recently passed LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws helping to protect LGBTQ citizens. Pennsylvania’s Republican-led legislature has yet to pass a statewide nondiscrimination bill, despite overwhelming support from Democrats. According to the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, 69 of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities have passed LGBTQ-inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances as of January 2021.
Several of the locations across the country held celebrations for their flag raisings, including Abington Township, whose event was attended by Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Lori Schriber, the first openly gay elected official in the county, as well as by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
“This #PrideMonth,” Shapiro posted on Twitter after the event, “I’m recommitting to all of the work ahead of us to achieve full equality in the United States — but I’m also celebrating communities like Abington, where all are welcome and love is love.”
Each location in Montgomery County chose which Pride flag to raise, with some selecting the “More Color, More Pride” flag with Black and Brown stripes, and others choosing the “Progress” flag which also includes the colors of the trans flag. Buttacavoli said that for those locations who raised flags or issued proclamations for the first time, the county hopes to have those items curated with the Historical Society of Montgomery County for future exhibits.
The list of Montgomery County municipalities who raised Pride flags this year include: Ambler, Abington, Hatboro, North Wales, Plymouth, Upper Dublin, Upper Gwynedd, Upper Moreland, Lansdale, West Norriton, Whitpain, and Whitemarsh.
When asked why it was important to have a record number of Pride flags raised this year, Buttacavoli reiterated the importance of visibility and its impact on LGBTQ youth.
“As they drive by each building, it lets them know they are not alone. I think it is also important for the parents to see so many flags. It may help them be more accepting of their child. Additionally, it also shows that our municipalities are welcoming to all.”