After California ally Laura “Lauri” Carleton was killed for displaying an LGBTQ+ Pride flag at her San Bernardino County store, Mag.Pi, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Flags for Good announced a new Pride flag honoring the Lake Arrowhead community member and shop owner.
“Carleton, an unwavering ally, is one of too many people who have lost their lives due to violence that targets LGBTQ+ people,” said a statement announcing the commemorative flag.
To honor Carleton’s memory and encourage allies to work for a safer community, the Center collaborated with Flags for Good to create a rainbow banner bearing the magpie symbol — after her store’s name. The proceeds from sales will benefit the Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ Fund.
“I assure you that the Center won’t be stopping here. Right-wing extremists have brought this fight to our doorstep, and let me promise you this: we are answering their knock at our door—and we will be greeting them with the strength that our community is known for,” said CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center Joe Hollendoner in a press release. “I hope we can rely on you to join us in the fight.”
In light of national retail chains like Target and Starbucks halting their Pride displays at some locations, Carleton, 66, chose to hang the Pride Flag, a symbol of resistance for the community since 1970.
The shooting occurred amid a spike in anti-LGBTQ+ extremism across the nation that has led to protests, threats, and violence against the community.
A report this year by the Anti-Defamation League and the LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD shows more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism, or assault took place from June 2022 to April 2023, which the report says coincides with an increase in rhetoric and legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
As a result of the growing backlash against the LGBTQ+ movement in the United States, Carleton’s tragic loss is part of an increasing trend. Aside from the rise in violence, over 700 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation have been introduced throughout the country, most of which restrict the civil rights of transgender people and queer youth.
Republicans and right-wing networks, including Fox News, have painted the Pride Flag as a dirty symbol that, according to their false claims, celebrates pedophiles and “grooming” children.
In June, Fox News ran an outrageous story with the headline, “White House flew controversial new transgender flag that promotes grooming and pedophilia, say critics.”
White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates has repeatedly called for Fox News to retract the story and apologize.
He pointed out that Fox Corps, the parent company of the far-right network, wrapped its logo in the Progress Pride Flag for a corporate governance report.
Security experts have warned that dehumanizing and inflammatory rhetoric targeted at the LGBTQ+ community could result in acts of violence. They say that far-right media figures engage in stochastic terrorism tactics, resulting in predictably unpredictable violent acts.
Carleton’s death has helped united LGBTQ+ people and allies to counter the hateful rhetoric targeted at the LGBTQ+ community.
Last Friday, an armed man came to her store and confronted Carleton for flying a Pride flag, police officials report. After she refused to take it down, Travis Ikeguchi, 27, shot and killed the business owner. He later was killed by police after fleeing the scene with his weapon. The gunman’s social media accounts showed a history of violent anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.
“Flying a flag is a way to show pride in your identity, but also show solidarity in trying times,” said Flags For Good owner Michael Green. “As much as we prefer to make flags that do the former, we’re proud to partner with organizations like the Los Angeles LGBT Center when flags can be used to respond to a tragedy like this.”
This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equality Pride.