Starting in June, Avon will let the Pride flag fly through July 5 |

Starting in June, Avon will let the Pride flag fly through July 5

Council member Lindsay Hardy says flags show that 'acceptance and belonging matter'

The town of Avon voted to display the Pride flag throughout June this year.
Lindsay Hardy/Special to the Daily

Ukrainian flags are currently being flown on flagpoles along Avon Road, but come June, the flags will be replaced by Pride flags in celebration of Pride Month. The Pride flag will fly throughout June and until July 5, hanging around long enough for Avon’s 37th Annual Salute to the USA event on July 3. 

During the Avon Town Council meeting on May 9, council members voted to display the Pride flag on town flagpoles in the heart of Avon. Council member Lindsay Hardy brought the request to the Town Council as a Pride ally, she said.

“In recent years, the term (ally) has been adopted specifically to a person supporting a marginalized group in an ongoing struggle against intolerance, discrimination and injustice,” Hardy said at the May 9 meeting. 

Hardy said she brought up the topic for the Town Council’s consideration because the Pride flag is a symbol that creates a space of visibility, acceptance, comfort, love and safety.

“The Pride flag can help remind (people) that their community loves and supports them,” Hardy said. 

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May is Mental Health Month, which Hardy noted makes this a good time to discuss how the community can better support the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Having this conversation matters,” Hardy said. “A study I found on the National Institute of Health website (reported that) among LGBTQ+ youth, 45% seriously considered attempting suicide this last year. (This is) a devastating reality that our nation, our community, must work urgently to address.”

Hardy said she is consistently being reminded that acceptance and belonging matter. She said flying the Pride flag in Avon would show her that she lives in a community that cherishes inclusivity, celebrates diversity, values equality, promotes a safe zone, fights for justice and encourages love and acceptance.

“I encourage the town of Avon to continue to be a proud ally, to exude love as the Heart of the Valley,” Hardy said. “Remind everyone that all are welcome and fly this flag proudly for the month of June.”

Vail and Gypsum resident Peter Hay Halpert also spoke during the May 5 Town Council meeting and said that a reminder of Avon’s acceptance and support for the LGBTQ+ community could be necessary. Hay Halpert said he attended Aspen and Telluride’s respective Gay Ski Week celebrations. “Pride flags were flying from every street pole,” Hay Halpert said. Though returning home, Hay Halpert said the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t see the same celebration. 

“In contrast, the Vail Valley seems to keep having debates about whether to put up or take down Pride flags,” Hay Halpert said. “The overriding impression is that this valley is not a welcoming place for gay people to live or visit, and that the people in the towns along the valley are homophobic. I hope it’s not the case. I don’t think it’s the case, but I think we need to actively work to change the way we’re perceived and the way we function here.”

Minturn resident, and former Avon resident, Michael Bednarczyk said he was surprised to see the Pride flag flying in Avon when he first saw it there years ago.

“I didn’t expect it to be there, honestly. It was actually during a low point for me, struggling with my own identity and seeing it honestly made me feel emotional,” Bednarczyk said. “It wasn’t the visual of the flag as much as the meaning of it, the fact that it was showing me that Avon is a town of acceptance and welcoming and hope. It really meant a lot to me.”

Avon resident Colin Rigor said he also didn’t get the most LGBTQ+ welcoming impression from the valley. Rigor said that in 2017, he started taking baby steps to accept himself and his identity and came out as gay. After attending a Pride festival in Minneapolis, Rigor said he fell in love with the Pride flag, what it stands for, and what it means to him. 

Like Rigor, Mountain Pride Executive Director Madison Partridge said that Pride flags are more than just fabric and colors.

“They are a symbol of our rich, diverse community — a diverse community that exists here in Eagle County and in Avon.” Partridge said. “We cannot opt out of diversity, and diversity cannot hurt us. We are here, we are queer, and we are not going anywhere. Our community is resilient and deserves to be seen.”

Town Council member Russel “RJ” Andrade voted against the display of the Pride flag during the May 5 meeting. Andrade also voted against displaying the Ukrainian flag during the April 25 regular Town Council meeting. Andrade said he doesn’t think the town should display any flags aside from the Colorado flag, the Avon town flag, and the U.S. flag. 

“I just think that anytime we appear to be favoring one group, we marginalize another by accident and create divisiveness, which is exactly what the flag does not stand for,” Andrade said. 

The Town Council approved the display of the Pride Flag on the major town flagpoles with a 6-to-1 vote and the flags are set to be on display from June 1 until July 5. Extending the display into July would allow visitors and Eagle County residents who come out for the July 3 Salute to the USA event to view the flag as well. 

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