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Lesbian Couple Targeted by Homophobic Neighbor After Displaying Rainbow Flag

Melinda and Kelly Person
Courtesy of Melinda and Kelly Person

"We [just] want to get along with our neighbors, but it's become a safety issue for our kids."   

Less than a week after Melinda and Kelly Person decided to hang a rainbow flag outside their home in Albany, New York, "no trespassing" signs were erected facing the Persons' front and back yards.

"Our first response was to try and live with it and hide it from our view by putting flowers in front of the words on the sign," Melinda told Out.

Neighbors installed tall signs that could be visible from the street after the family began planting flowers to cover the originals.

The Persons live in Guilderland, an Albany suburb, where they raise their three children. They displayed the rainbow flag following the mass shooting of 49 mostly LGBT people in Orlando earlier this summer.

"Our neighbors were clearly trying to upset us with these signs," Melinda said. She added that other residents had approached them, "baffled as to why our neighbors would do this to us."

After some time had passed and the signs remained, Melinda decided to confront the Macintochs, an elderly couple, at their house to try and talk to them. The neighbors called the police instead of answering the door.

When officers arrived, they informed Melinda that their neighbors had the right to put the signs up since it was on their property, and they also didn't have to talk to her if they didn't want to.

Melinda tried to reach out again to the couple via letter expressing their desire to coexist peacefully. The signs remain.

Despite their neighbors' actions, the Persons have continued to display their rainbow flag--with their commitment only being met with more homophobic actions.

In late August, the couple rode both of their lawnmowers in circles during an outdoor birthday party the Persons threw for their twins. Dirt billowed across their yard during the entire party.

On Sept. 9, the neighbors took their aggressions even further by spray painting "Trump" on tree trunks.

After discovering the graffiti, Melinda took to social media. Her Facebook post lead to an outpouring of support from friends, other neighbors and lesbian couples in neighboring towns who've also experienced homophobic actions from people in their area.

"We've also had lots of people offering to either contribute to or build us a fence since my Facebook post went live," said Melinda."We're struggling with that possibility because we don't want to build a fence. We [just] want to get along with our neighbors, but it's become a safety issue for our kids."

Carrie Maxwell is the lead researcher for the Legacy Project--the world's only outdoor LGBT history museum walk (located on North Halsted Street in Chicago), traveling installation and youth education program. While working at CNN, Carrie received an Emmy Award for contributions to the reporting of the events beginning on September 11, 2001. Carrie is also a contributor to Chicago's LGBT weekly newspaper, Windy City Times.

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