The Wrong Side Of The Rainbow

Rainbow FlagMEADE, KANSAS – “Some place where there isn’t any trouble — do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?” Dorothy asked.
And her answer was, of course, “somewhere over the rainbow.”
Which is nowhere near Meade, Kan., where right now trouble is brewing, ironically enough, over just that — a rainbow.
The rainbow flag that flies outside the Lakeway Inn, to be specific.
Or flew there, anyway, until recently.
“A couple of days ago, someone tried to cut it down,” according to J.R. Knight, co-owner of the combination restaurant and bed and breakfast. “There’s just a corner of it left.”
Why would anyone do such a rotten thing?
resumes it’s because the rainbow has become a symbol of gay pride in recent years.
That’s not why the flag went up outside the Lakeway initially. No, it was simply a gift to J.R. and his wife, Robin, from their 12-year-old son.
The boy recently left Meade, population 1,600, to live with relatives in California. On the way west, they stopped at Dorothy’s House, a Wizard of Oz tourist spot in Liberal, Kan. And soon after, the kid sent a rainbow flag to his parents.
“He sent us this flag letting us know he’s missing us, over the rainbow,” J.R. says.
A sweet gesture, in other words — but what followed wasn’t.
A photo of the flag suddenly appeared in the local paper.
When I asked Denice Kuhn, editor of the Meade County News, why she felt the flag was newsworthy, she declined to comment.
But she and J.R. admit they’ve had run-ins before. So consider that when I tell you the caption with that photo directed readers to a Web site.
And there it was noted that the rainbow had been adopted as a symbol of the gay community.
It also happens to symbolize many other things — equality, diversity, human rights and the Rainbow Girls.
But the connection to gays is what disturbed some folks in Meade.
Jaws flapped. Business dropped off at the Lakeway.
The Christian radio station quit holding its staff meetings in the restaurant, which cost the Knights an advertising outlet. In exchange for free meals, the station had plugged the Lakeway on air as a station sponsor.
“I just told J.R. that we’re a Christian radio station, and this whole controversy is going to give us problems,” station general manager Don Hughes said. “We’d just like to stay out of the controversy.”
But the Knights weren’t about to take the flag down, on principle.
To the preacher who told him the rainbow offended him, J.R. said something like “take a hike.”
To friends who suggested it might be better for business if he reconsidered, the Knights said that would be like admitting that they’d done something wrong.
Besides, they had nothing against gays.
And gays, it seems, have nothing against the Lakeway. In fact, since the story broke last month, this controversy has become a hot topic in the gay community nationwide.
“We’re getting 200 e-mails a day,” J.R. says.
To give financial support to the Lakeway for standing its ground, people out of the area are calling up to rent rooms by credit card with no intention of spending the night.
The southwest chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition recently booked the Lakeway as the site of their next monthly meeting.
Then there are the flags.
People are sending rainbow flags from around the world.
That way, the Knights will never run out of them.
“I’m never taking it down,” J.R. said.
from The Kansas City Star

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