LETTER: Weighing in on pride flag controversy

To the editor:

To my beloved community, I’ve been reading comments from community members about the Pleasant Street Pre-School and their landlord, the Grace Community Church, pertaining to the removal of Pride flags placed by the Pre-School’s owner, Michael Richmond. It breaks my heart to see this escalating. I hope the following may be useful in some way.

For 40 years, I ran a business in this community where I actively set an example and rallied for inclusivity in all I did. I am, to my core, an ally. I was also both a tenant and landlord across those 40 years and, in both capacities, made many missteps. What I ultimately learned is that communication is key. As a tenant, whether for a single-day event or years on end, I learned to treat the properties I leased as my own with the huge caveat that it was not my property. I had limitations on what I could and couldn’t do with any kind of signage. I had show posters ripped down from the High School (now Middle School)’s theatre lobby for a show I had paid to hold there. At the time, I took it very personally. It wasn’t personal; it was (then) policy.

And so I learned. While a tenant, I was frequently approached by folks running for office or heading an event requesting I place signs in or around the building. Though I was often 100% on board with their cause, I had to explain it was not my building/property, and I, therefore, had to deny their request.

In the following years when I became a landlord, I was often pulling down signage in and outside of my building when a tenant posted items without permission. Many of these items I would have approved. They just needed to ask.

I get it. The Grace Community Church members’ actions in removing the Pride flags can appear discriminatory. Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s as simple as it is their property and permission wasn’t sought. I understand there are other issues. They may seem insurmountable for this landlord/tenant relationship. I’ve been there too. My wish here is that the community take a beat, support Michael in his search for new space, and allow the church folk to maintain their property as they see fit.

I wish you all peace, support for your beliefs, patience with your neighbors, and a very Happy Pride.

Beth Wheeler
Cloutman’s Lane

Letter to the editor
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