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Two rainbow flags, banner stolen from Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango

Fellowship plans to host giveaway of flags in response to thefts
A banner above the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango as well as two rainbow flags were stolen this month from the outside of the fellowship. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, an LGBTQ-welcoming religious organization with Christian roots, says it has been the target of three anti-LGBTQ acts of theft in October.

It started with the theft of a rainbow flag that was mounted to the fellowship’s Sanctuary entrance. LGBTQIA+ Team Leader Bonnie Miller said the flag was stolen in late September or early October, but the exact date isn’t known.

Miller and her husband were at the fellowship building for a workday in early October and noticed the flag had been snapped off its pole, she said. The couple didn’t think too much of it at the time, Miller said, and figured it could have been a prank, so they didn’t bother to report the incident to police.

The flag was based on the modern six-colored rainbow flag that represents LGBT rights.

Miller said the flag was replaced a day later with the progressive flag, a modern version of the rainbow flag that features the extra colors white, pink and blue to represent the transgender community, as well as the colors brown and black to represent people of color.

A photograph of the first of two flags stolen from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango building. (Courtesy of John Schiffel)

Within a week, the progressive flag was also stolen. Miller said whoever took it went through some “obvious extra effort” to retrieve it because it was placed high on the building’s brick exterior.

“Someone had to go to the trouble to get a chair or ladder to take the flag and pole, but also to pull off the hardware attached to the brick,” Miller said.

The theft of the second flag prompted Miller to contact the Durango Police Department, she said.

Then a banner that hangs above the fellowship entrance disappeared a week later, Miller said, which prompted her to contact police for a second time. Miller said she and a few fellowship members passed letters around the neighborhood to ask residents to contact the fellowship if they see anything suspicious.

“Our plan is to replace the flag and replace the banner, but it takes a little while to get those now,” said Miller.

The banner reflected the fellowship’s values with the phrase “We are: All Connected / Stronger Together / Love’s Hands in the World / Called to Create Justice / Responsible for One Another and the Earth.”

“At UUFD, we take our commitment to LGBTQIA+ justice and inclusion seriously,” Minister Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris said in a written statement. “We fly our rainbow flag outside our front door as a symbol of that welcome. We want to say clearly, before you come in the door, that you are welcome here, that we value diversity of sexuality and gender and see it as a spiritual gift.”

A banner communicating the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango’s values was stolen earlier this month. The theft came after the theft of two rainbow flags at the fellowship. (Courtesy of John Schiffel)

In a letter to the editor of The Durango Herald, Miller said the fellowship thanks the person who stole the flags and banner for serving as a reminder that the organization “still has work to do in this community” in spreading its message of love, inclusivity and welcome.

“I think it’s (the recent vandalism) provided an opportunity for us to recognize that there are people who still aren’t accepting of others and that we need to be vigilant in our own way about supporting our LGBT community,” Miller told the Herald. “This is an inconvenience in terms of replacing things, but it’s a deeper hurt for people for whom that symbol represents something important about who they are, and we need to show them that we recognize that importance and that we advocate for them.”

In response to the thefts, the fellowship is hosting a small giveaway of rainbow flags from 10:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 30 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango at 419 San Juan Drive. The public is welcome to attend the giveaway, Miller said.

Each color of the original eight-colored flag symbolizes a different concept. Hot pink represents sex, red symbolizes life, orange means healing, yellow is for sunlight, green is for nature, turquoise represents magic or art, indigo means serenity and violet represents spirit.

One modern rainbow flag consists of six colors, although many versions of the rainbow flag exist, such as the People of Color Rainbow Flag, which includes the colors black and brown to represent people of color.


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