Dressed in rainbow colors and waving Pride flags, about 40 protesters gathered outside Surfside Town Hall on Tuesday chanting “fly the flag” after the town decided not to raise the LGBTQ banner this year.
The protest was organized in response to a decision by Surfside not to fly the LGBTQ flag on town grounds for Pride month in June despite displaying it last year.
The group cheered as passing motorists honked their car horns in support. Music blared from speakers at the rally, including electronic dance tracks and the 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush, which is considered a “queer anthem.”
Jennifer Hill, a Surfside resident of over two decades, showed up to the protest with her dog Sirius, both sporting colorful Pride flags.
She said the LGBTQ community is important to South Florida, and Surfside needs to show its support.
“The Pride flag symbolizes the human rights struggle that we’re all a part of, and I think Surfside needs to be on the right side of history,” Hill added.
Resident Maddie Griffin, 16, said she felt like the town was shutting out members of the LGBTQ community.
“The flag should be hung everywhere,” Griffin said. “It’s not fair that people are shut out for who they are and who they love.”
Joel Thieme, a Surfside resident of 15 years, attended the protest with his partner Brian.
He said he showed up to let town leaders know that there is a gay community in Surfside after Mayor Shlomo Danzinger said he only heard a couple residents asking that a Pride flag be raised in town.
“It’s just about saying, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,’” Thieme said.
Despite resident backlash to the town’s decision — and majority support on the commission for raising the flag — the town had not raised the flag as of Tuesday evening.
Residents packed into the commission chambers after the protest for a special commission meeting to discuss parking rates and a beach chair policy.
Danzinger introduced the meeting by letting the capacity crowd know that the Pride flag would not be discussed. Commissioners are expected to discuss a flag policy at their July meeting.
“If you’re here to discuss something else, I’m sorry today is not that day,” the mayor said.