Rainbow flags have become an iconic part of San Francisco’s gay and lesbian community, and now risk being removed amid fears they are damaging the historic lampposts from which they are hung.
The flags were hoisted when Castro District become the heartland of the international gay rights movement in the early 20th century.
The local neighbourhood association, however, is seeking to remove them, as the lampposts are designated city landmarks and the fasteners used to affix the flags can rust and adversely affect the posts. In a statement released last week, the Mission Delores neighbourhood Association said:
We completely support the diversity in the area but this is about preserving a city landmark from permanent signage.
Originally, the flags were hung illegally from the lampposts, but they were ignored in support of the growing rights movement. However, due to the damage being caused, a permanent solution is being deemed necessary.
Bevan Dufty, City Supervisor, initially supported the preservation of the flags, however he said:
This is where the rainbow flag started. This is a neighbourhood that should be identified as one of the strongest and most vibrant gay and lesbian neighbourhoods in the world.
He is proposing a change to legislation that will be discussed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission this week. The proposal would allow banners that distinguish a neighbourhood to remain on the lampposts permanently as long as their fasteners do not cause damage.