A San Jose woman was ordered to take down her rainbow flag because it violated her building’s policy against outdoor decorations.
On December 1, Horner received a note from her landlord explaining that her Pride banner violated the terms of lease barring the “hanging [of] plants, chimes, decorations and lights” outside.
In response, she emailed management to make sure she wasn’t being singled out for her pro-LGBT décor. “I am just writing to confirm that you have submitted violations notices to all units which break this code.”
Horner noted a dozen other residents at the Cherrywood Apartments had “violated” the lease with Christmas decorations.
“As long as all of these people also received takedown notices…I am happy to remove mine,” she stated. “There’s no possible way you noticed my one little flag and didn’t cite them, but just in case, I’m making sure.”
The email was ignored, so Horner went to the office in person and was told that though her flag had to come down, management would not tell her neighbors to remove their Christmas decorations as they were seasonal.
“Santa flags are okay and gay flags are not okay?” Holly asked the manager point blank. “Yes or no?”
Horner says the manager told her “Yes,” but wouldn’t put it in writing. Pressed further, he added that her neighbors’ displays weren’t “necessarily Christmas decorations.”
“Mine’s just stripes of rainbow fabric,” she responded. “It’s not necessarily gay.”
The manager ended the conversation by insisting that only holiday décor would be allowed, such as American flags for Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July.
Unsatisfied, Horner sent a letter to her management company asking for a clearer explanation of what constituted appropriate seasonal décor.
The next day, resident services told Horner the flag needed to come down, but they “vehemently [denied] any type of selective enforcement” of the no-décor policy. Yet they insisted it didn’t apply to “festive decorations for a limited time-period around the winter holidays.”
Horner kept pushing back on what qualified as “festive decorations,” but she updated her display by putting “Happy Holidays” on the Pride flag. (She also strung rainbow Christmas lights around her apartment.)
After this last exchange, Horner posted about the situation on Imgur, where it went viral. As the story picked up steam, Cherrywood Apartments eventually caved and told her she could keep her flag up.
“We won!,” Horner posted last week. “Everyone’s decorations (mine & neighbors) can stay through Jan 1, when the complex will rewrite its décor policy & enforce it equally!!!!”
It’s unclear if management will keep its promise once buzz about the story dies down, but it’s worth celebrating Horner’s inspiring determination in the face of blatant discrimination.