BOISE - A Boise couple woke up to an unpleasant surprise on Sunday. Their pride flag that was hanging on their porch had been burned overnight.
It's an act that has left many community members upset and wondering who could've done it and why.
"We put it up on Saturday morning and by Sunday morning it was torched," said Karen Kelley.
Burned pieces of the flag still remain, a day later, on the front steps.
"We were shocked, we were absolutely shocked," said Kelley.
Kelley and her husband, Bruce Ballenger, have lived in the North End for more than two decades, and for the past few years they've flown the flag during Pride Week.
"It was deeply disappointing and concerning that suddenly this was okay to do," said Ballenger.
"It didn't feel like a brave act to put out a pride flag, it's just a statement of our beliefs and support of our neighbors," Kelley said.
Their home is one of the only homes in the neighborhood to have a pride flag hanging outside.
"For me this is just a statement that this is where we are, these are the values that we embrace, and we still have a long way to go," said Kelley.
Just down the street, 60 pride flags are flying for the first time.
"It moved me to tears when I walked up and down Harrison Boulevard," said Joseph Kibbe a member of the Boise Pride Festival Committee. "It's incredible to look up and see something that represents me in the LGBT community and be proud of."
While the burned flag is visual, Kibbe says the day-to-day struggles are always there and not as obvious.
"It surprised me that it happened and it was very saddening," Kibbe said. "There's always in the back of your mind every day, am I okay to be myself? Am I okay to let individuals know I'm in the LGBT in the community? Can I display this on my home? Am I safe? Am I welcome?"
He says the flags you see on Harrison Boulevard are more than just that. They're a symbol of hope and of a step forward.
"We need to keep coming, keep bringing it," said Cherie Buckner-Webb, a friend of Kelley and Ballenger. "We need to stand up against any oppression, hatred, and racism."
"We've got every privilege in the book and it doesn't feel right to now say we have to shy away from this because these are our values," said Kelley. "So we're going to fly it."
The Boise Pride Fest Organization asked to fly the pride flags along Harrison Boulevard and the North End Neighborhood Association says both the City of Boise and ACHD approved the display.
The pride flags are not flying in place of American flags, which are flown on Harrison Boulevard only on holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
The flags will be taken down on Sunday.
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