Solvang Mayor Mark Infanti finally caved.
Although he didn’t specify why he switched sides on Pride Bannergate 2023, he did indicate that he was feeling the pressure from the state, federal, and international levels. The pressure on Solvang seemed to continually rise in the weeks following the upheaval over a relatively benign proposal to hang banners from light poles in celebration of Pride Month and temporarily paint a crosswalk or two in rainbow colors.
It probably helped that The Rainbow House Inc., an LGBTQ-plus nonprofit, didn’t stop reapplying to put the banners up with new iterations of the proposal. Even threats of physical harm, elected officials being outwardly homophobic, and the city of Solvang denying the organization new hearings didn’t stop it from dusting itself off and trying again.
It probably helped that the media (That’s us!) continued to cover the issue as it unfolded and the pressure cooker started to crack certain council members (I’m talking about Robert Clarke and his big ass mouth. Has anyone ever told him to stick a sock in it?). Hey, Solvang even made the LA Times! Woohoo! And not for being a quaint Danish-themed town that’s great for wine tasting and Julefest-ing.
You know what they say: All coverage is good coverage—or whatever.
Kudos to Kiel and Matt Cavalli for continuing to push, for speaking up and out, and for conforming their proposal to work within the city of Solvang’s weird banner policies, as one does. On April 24, the council finally approved an iteration of banners for Pride Month: Two weeks, eight banners, very Solvang-themed—but with some rainbow pop!
It was a 3-2 vote, but still. Banners approved!
And kudos to Kiel for saying what needed to be said: “The banners are not what caused the division; people have created the division. Me being gay is not being political,” he told council members. “I have nothing to gain from this other than representation.”
If the two hours of public comment on April 24 and finale of jeers and gasps to the project’s approval are any indication of what the LGBTQ-plus community is up against in Solvang—it’s a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. And it’s a real bummer, too.
With everything that a whole community of people could spend their time on, the city of Solvang, its residents, and elected officials chose to spend two months discussing whether to hang rainbow-themed banners from light poles during National Pride Month. Really? Not housing, homelessness, or economic issues. Not actual education and how to best serve underserved community members.
But banners and crosswalks. And why?
Because rainbows are apparently rife with consequences—and apparently so is representing and acknowledging minority, traditionally discriminated against community members. As a result of everything that’s transpired since the project was first introduced, a banner policy revamp flew to the top of the City Council’s to-do list. Now, nobody else can put their banners up.
Are you anti-rainbow idiots happy? Probably. Because now no one can be represented or celebrated by the city of Solvang, except for its white, Danish, 1865 roots and the tourism that generates.
I wonder what kind of tourists the city will bring in this year. I hope it’s packed for Pride Month.
The Canary is dyeing its feathers rainbow colors. Send pattern suggestions to [email protected].