The rainbow flag, a widely recognized symbol of gay pride, property of Kamas resident Craig Costa, is a noticeable sight, flying from the hill behind his house on Center St. across from South Summit High School.
Costa put the flag up about two months ago to support three of his children who are gay.
"I never thought a thing of it, I was just trying to support my kids," Costa said.
Because of the flag's location across the street from the high school, there were many who thought it was being displayed on school property, said South Summit High School Principal Steve Camp about the reactions he received.
"It's a little awkward where it's situated," Camp said. "There were some comments early on about, 'Why is that on school property?' and so forth."
The rainbow flag, however, is located on Costa's property. After hearing about these comments, Costa decided to write a letter to Camp stating why he had the flag up and that it was "intended to show support for those looking to be treated like everyone else, with respect and compassion."
"It's his property and he has the right to display that on his property," Camp said.
Others in the community did not share that sentiment. Since April 13, Costa claims he has had 15 rainbow flags stolen from his property. In the first incident, Costa says, more than one individual came onto his property, cut the zip ties holding the flag up and stole it. Costa wrote another letter to Camp informing him of the theft.
Shortly after the second letter, Costa spotted some teenagers on the hill near his house and yelled at them to get down. He also saw another group sitting in a truck up the road from his house. He informed them that he had called the police and they should leave. Two weeks later, the flag was stolen yet again.
After the first several incidents, Costa decided to grease the flag pole and put baling wire around it. The flag, which is not strung up by any rope, is merely attached to the top of the flag pole, so those wishing to steal it must climb the pole or break it down.
Each time it was stolen, Costa put a new one back up again.
"No one realizes it's being stolen because I just put it right back up again," Costa said. "I'll just keep putting it up. My neighbors are supportive of me."
About a month ago, Costa began giving away free rainbow flags to any Kamas resident that wanted one. He hopes that those who support equality will request a flag, but is disappointed in the persistence of those who do not care for his display.
"This is America; people have a right to opinions, a right to expression. And to think that a high school kid doesn't understand that, that's pretty easy to understand," Costa said. "But to think that there are parents who might encourage it or have knowledge of it and not come forward [is disappointing]."
Costa told Camp that he hoped the whole ordeal would
"provide a teaching moment" for his school to address issues of tolerance for gay and lesbian citizens. Camp, however, says he is unwilling to use this real-world example of intolerance in his classroom.
"I think our teachers do a pretty good job of demonstrating and teaching tolerance as a whole," Camp said. "To go the direction he wanted us to go about teaching gay and lesbian tolerance, we weren't going to go that far."
Costa's rainbow flag remains up outside his house, and he is still glad to give out free ones to those in Kamas who want them. To receive a free flag, e-mail Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I hope it takes the heat off my flag by giving a bunch to people in Kamas," Costa said.