Ocean park

Oak Bluffs Ocean Park will fly the Progress Pride Flag

OAK BLUFFS — In a 4-1 vote, the Oak Bluffs Board of Directors voted Tuesday to fly the Progress Pride Flag at Ocean Park from June 1-14.

The NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard sent a letter April 15 to city administrator Deborah Potter requesting permission to fly the Progress Pride Flag in Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs Town Hall, Utah. Oak Bluffs Fire Station and Oak Bluffs Police Station.

The Progress Pride Flag, according to Jennelle Gadowski, chair of the LGBTQ+ committee for the island’s NAACP chapter, is a new take on the traditional rainbow pride flag that elevates marginalized groups within the community. LGBTQ community, including transgender and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. .

The Progress Pride Flag, shown here in Acton, is a new version of the traditional Rainbow Pride Flag that elevates marginalized groups within the LGBTQ community, including transgender and Black, Indigenous and people of color.

In an interview ahead of Tuesday’s board meeting, Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, president of the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard chapter and Oak Bluffs resident and attorney, said last summer that the NAACP presented the same proposal. to the Oak Bluffs Select Board for approval to fly the Progress Pride Flag. on the masts in the city, but the Select Board rejected the application.

All the other towns on the island except Chilmark flew the Progress Pride Flag for Pride Month, with Aquinnah even keeping it year-round.

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Hardy-Doubleday said that at the time, the Select Board noted that no other third-party flag — any flag outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the Town of Oak Bluffs flag — should be flown under the American flag. , except for the POW / MIA Flag.

Gadowski said the same thing and added that some members of the Select Board, who are veterans themselves, felt it would be disrespectful to fly the Progress Pride flag under the American flag.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday is president of the NAACP of Martha's Vineyard.

The Progress Pride flag was instead hung on a fence behind the police station.

“They picked a fence at the back of the police station in a seedy little alley, and we felt very discouraged by that, very uncomfortable,” Gadowski said. “Several people came up to us and said they didn’t like it, and people in the community said they were really upset about it.”

After many conversations with Hardy-Doubleday, a change

At Tuesday’s board meeting, board chairman Brian Packish said that in the many conversations he’s had with Hardy-Doubleday since last summer, he recognized that the board of administration should and could do better when it comes to the pride flag.

Prior to council’s testimony and decision regarding the flying of the Progress Pride Flag, council discussed the possible implementation of a flag policy for the city, which would prohibit the flying of all third-party flags on city ​​property.

Hardy-Doubleday argued Tuesday that the policy, as proposed, is too strict and the board could potentially tie his hands behind his back.

An LGBTQ pride flag is raised next to the Massachusetts state flag at the state capitol.

He suggested a possible change to the policy to include language that would allow the select committee to choose, at its discretion, which third-party flags to fly.

Board members discussed the possible risk associated with the implementation of discretionary power for the restricted board.

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The Supreme Court in January 2022 heard arguments in a similar case, Shurtleff v. the City of Boston, where the city refused to raise the flag of the Christian group Camp Constitution.

The question before the court now is whether the government flagpoles are private or public speech, and whether the city violated the group’s First Amendment right to free speech.

The decision on the case is still pending, a fact Potter, the city administrator, noted in a letter read by council members on Tuesday, explaining Oak Bluffs’ view of the policy.

Jennelle Gadowski is the LGBTQ+ Committee Chair for the Martha's Vineyard NAACP Chapter.

Potter and some board members wanted to wait until the matter was decided before implementing a flag policy.

The select board decided to create a flag policy subcommittee, made up of board members Emma Green-Beach and Ryan Ruley, along with two members from the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP and one to three members at large to flesh out more politics.

The NAACP, having already received the green light from the city’s Parks Commission in a hearing on Monday for a June 1 flag-raising ceremony, then presented its case to the Select Board.

Alex Palmer, Secretary of Martha’s Vineyard NAACP, said it’s more important than ever for Oak Bluffs, a historically diverse and open-minded town, to show support for the LGBTQ community due to recent anti-trans laws and anti-LGBTQ adopted. in Texas.

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“We have to take a stand before it’s too late,” he said.

A woman wearing a shirt that read “Protect Trans Kids” at the meeting said she was speaking out for her trans child and stressed the importance of the city showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community in this way.

Although the NAACP initially requested that the flag be flown for the entire month, a compromise was reached between the Select Board and the organization on Tuesday, and a fourteen-day period was agreed to by both parties.

Importance of the Pride Flag for the Young LGBTQ Generation

For Sofie Green, Vice President of the Oak Bluffs Association (OBA), owner of Island Outfitters and a member of the LGBTQ community, the pride flag belongs to Oak Bluffs.

Green, who grew up in Alabama, made Oak Bluffs her permanent home largely because of her open-mindedness and diversity, but looking back on issues like the Pride Flag, she s worried about the island’s younger LGBTQ generation.

Sofie Green is vice president of the Oak Bluffs Association and owner of Island Outfitters.

“When you’re a teenager and even in your early twenties, you’re still searching for an identity, a community where you feel loved and supported,” she said. “I want young people to feel like they belong here in OB.”

Hardy-Doubleday, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, echoed that, noting that the youngest member of Martha’s Vineyard NAACP is a non-binary sixth-grader, which, for the attorney, underscores how crucial it is that young LGBTQ citizens see themselves reflected in their city.

“Raising this flag is very, very, very important,” he said.

Gadowski, who identifies as a lesbian, noted that her three younger sisters inspired her to become passionate about fighting for the Pride flag.

“It’s a small step in what should be a big discussion about acceptance, respect and inclusion in our community,” she said in an interview ahead of the board meeting. “To show that small step by raising the pride flag of progress is to show that you support us, queer, and trans and non-binary and that we are not only tolerated, but respected and treated like any other member of the community, or any other constituent”.