Donald Trump cynically held up a rainbow flag with “L.G.B.T.s for Trump” scrawled on it during his campaign last year and has proceeded as president to roll back L.G.B.T.Q. rights and appoint virulent bigots to cabinet posts and federal judgeships.
So when the administration learned that the National Park Service was going to dedicate a rainbow flag at the Stonewall National Monument on Oct. 11 — National Coming Out Day — the Park Service was ordered to withdraw its sponsorship of the ceremony, certify that the flagpole within the monument commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion was technically not on federal land, take the N.P.S. flag down, and cede the rainbow flag to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
What was intended as a happy celebration brought out the spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion as speakers at the dedication protested the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bigotry of the administration in Washington.
As more than 100 activists gathered at noon, Tom Viola, the longtime executive director of Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, which funded the event, said, “It’s a shame that on what is an extraordinary day that behind the scenes it descended into a nasty fight that reflects the vindictiveness that is at the top of the food chain, which is the White House. But all told, a great day for the L.G.B.T. community. We will prevail.”
Veteran activist Ann Northrop, co-host of “Gay USA,” emceed.
“We’re here to celebrate the flying of the rainbow flag inside the Stonewall National Monument,” she said.
It had been billed as the first rainbow flag to permanently wave on federal property, but a Newsweek story previewing the event caught the attention of someone higher up in the administration. It included a comment from Ken Kidd, who coordinated the event, saying that the rainbow flag will be “flying on this national monument during a time when we have a president who is not particularly kind or loving to the L.G.B.T. community.”
Kidd’s comment cited some of Trump’s recent attacks.
The administration insisted that the flag not fly on federal property. While the monument is 7.7 acres and includes Christopher Park and the block of Christopher St. where the Stonewall Inn bar is, the only “federal property” is the park itself within its fence line. The flagstaff, erected by the city, the state and the Greenwich Village Historical Society in 1936 to honor Ephraim Ellsworth, the “first man of his rank killed” in the Civil War, is still city property. (On the Park Service Web site, the page that had the map for the Stonewall National Monument has been taken down.)
The Park Service’s Barbara Applebaum, who had coordinated the ceremony for the N.P.S. and was scheduled to speak, withdrew on Tuesday in the wake of the kerfuffle created by the administration, citing a schedule conflict. Joshua Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, ended up attending the ceremony and offered to speak or have Applebaum do so.
Northrop said, “We told them we love the local Park Service people, but we’re furious at the Trump administration,” and Laird’s offer was declined, though Appelbaum was acknowledged during the ceremony. Read more via the Villager