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Neighbors show kindness after latest Heber Pride flag thefts

A Pride flag flies in a blue sky.
SARAWUT MEETHAM/Sarawut - stock.adobe.com
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433036255
A Pride flag flies in a blue sky.

A series of Pride flags in Heber have been vandalized or stolen for the second time this year. This time, some residents have stepped up to support their neighbors.

Lifelong Heber resident Josh Knight said he was relaxing in his living room with the curtains open when he saw a couple of teens run up to his porch and yank down his Pride flag.

“It just kind of hit me in a way where I’m like, ‘Oh, so I guess me expressing an outward pride of who I am that I don’t have to hide anymore’ was 100% violated that night,” he said.

He’s been flying a Pride flag for eight years alongside an American flag. He said this is the first time he’s had a problem like this.

But it’s not the first time Pride flags have been targeted in Heber. In March, masked vandals were caught on camera ripping down flags and making what appeared to be Nazi salutes. Encircle Heber, a dedicated safe space for LGBTQ+ youth, was also vandalized. This summer, several other homes’ Pride flags were targeted.

Knight reported the incident to Heber police. He said it’s unlikely they’ll find the culprits, though.

Heber Police Chief Parker Sever agreed.

“Lots of times if people will continue to repeat the behavior, we’ll get lucky and we’ll eventually catch them,” he said. “If anybody has any information, or if they hear their friends talking about it, we’d love them to contact us so that we can look further into it.”

But Knight said the incident points to deeper-seated prejudice against and ignorance about queer people in the community. He said it was “hell” growing up gay in Heber. He didn’t come out until he was in his 30s.

“I mean, it took a lot for me to fly a Pride flag,” he said. “I was out for almost two years before I flew a Pride flag on my own personal home.”

Knight asked Heber residents to have a little more empathy for and curiosity about neighbors whose lives are different from their own.

“All I ask is for people to be understanding and kind,” he said. “I don’t even care if you love me – I don’t care. What I do care about is when you impede on someone’s right to live a life of happiness and joy.”

He was upset by the incident but found a silver lining in the kindness of the family who returned his stolen flag after they found it in a gutter, a card tucked in its rainbow folds.

“I just found the card. It says, ‘I’m so happy your flag was found. I hope Heber and Midway can continue to grow in love and acceptance. With love,’ and then her and her daughters,” he said. “It was the sweetest form of kindness and love that I’d ever received in a situation like this, and that card that was handwritten by her and her daughters really, truly means the world for me.”

Knight said that kind of care gives him hope that Heber can become more welcoming for its LGBTQ+ residents, one person at a time.

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