A Massachusetts neighbourhood has rallied around a gay couple who were targeted in a spiteful homophobic attack.
Cari and Lauri Ryding returned from a vacation to discover their rainbow flag, emblazoned with the word “peace”, had been stolen and their front porch had been pelted with eggs.
The flag had been purchased to honour the 49 victims killed in the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.
“It really sent us reeling,” Cari, 49, said.
“It was our first experience in Natick of having any type of prejudice. We hadn’t experienced it all, and it kind of broke open our little cocoon.”
But when the Rydings reached out to neighbours in an attempt to track down the culprit their faith in human nature was soon restored.
A squadron of children on bicycles delivered rainbow flags to house after house in the neighbourhood. And one by one, the flags went up – more than 40 houses in all — into a brilliantly coloured declaration of pride and solidarity, displayed on picket fences, garages, doorways and decks.
“One person’s act of fear and maliciousness created such a powerful statement of love,” Lauri, 52, said. “We are very blessed, very fortunate.”
Penni Rochwerger, who lives just around the corner from the Rydings, said it all happened quickly.
“The whole neighbourhood said, ‘Get me a flag. Get me a flag. Get me a flag,’” she said.
“If we can stop whatever hate is out there, I think that’s really important.”