June should be a celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride. But perhaps a recent homophobic hate crime in Haslemere proves more work needs to be done...
In the morning of June 19, Teagan Bowling-Henderson woke to find her inclusive LGBTQ+ and pansexual Pride flag missing from her flagpole.
When reviewing her camera footage, Teagan saw the flags being cut down, although the lack of light meant she couldn’t see who was responsible.
Teagan said the culprit tried to set fire to the whole pole but it clearly didn’t take as well as they had hoped.
Teagan’s mother and brother found the flags burnt in a nearby cut-through lane.
“I was heartbroken,” said Teagan. “I bought these flags as a coming-out present to myself three years ago, and I display them every June.”
This year was the first time Teagan flew her flags from her flagpole.
She displays them every year because she says she wants people to know it is okay to be queer, and that acceptance can be found on her doorstep.
In response to the crime, Teagan’s brother has bought an even bigger Pride flag which is once again flying from her flagpole.
Miss Bowling-Henderson said: “They can burn them all they want, I will not stop putting them up.”
Teagan has another flag in her window where she says no-one can destroy it.
Teagan says she is trying to use the incident as a teaching moment, posting it on Facebook and engaging with users.
She added: “I always thought Haslemere was safe, and that things like this only happen in America. It feels targeted because when I go out I am clearly part of the LGBTQ+ community - I often wear little Pride flags.
“Even though I now feel slightly less safe, I am not going to let these people stop me.”
Teagan has reported the hate crime to the police.