Patriotism with a Heaping Portion of Pride

It’s hard to keep up with June holidays. Flag Day, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, not to mention the eyeroll-inducing days like national Donut, Selfie and “leave work early” day. (There are 17 “national _____ day” listings for June 1st, alone. Who makes this shit up?)

Not hard to explain to my kids National Selfie Day, (which is absurd), but I love nothing more than lecturing and boring my kids into a huffing stupor as we attempt to discuss the “reason for the season”.

And all of these June holidays are to be wrapped in a big rainbow flag for Pride month.

We’re privileged to live on a river with a love of boat traffic, so flying any kind of a flag is definitely a statement seen by many. Around Pride, I’ve felt a dilemma. I want to embrace the celebration, the color, the pride and also to demonstrate for my kids that we are folks who, well…celebrate.

Plus…it’s fun to pull out decorations that are seasonal to change our humdrum everyday palette.

American flags are the first to be considered for Memorial Day, Flag Day and of course the 4th.

But over the past couple of years, I’ve found it hard to hang our stars and stripes. On the river, especially, it’s as if Old Glory was taken for someone else’s brand and if I displayed it (especially on a river with a lot of boats flying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags) I unnecessarily felt like I was agreeing with those who’ve hijacked my American culture.

Do not for one second think I’m not a patriotic American. I love this country, I would not want to live anywhere else. It’s the land of opportunity and possibilities. We screw a lot of things up, but we are a beacon of hope for much of the world and the American psyche has a can-do attitude unparalleled anywhere else.

(Yes – far too much of the system is actually weighted in favor of the rich and the white. No doubt about it. The system is broken and that’s why I’m an idealist always advocating for systemic change.)

But patriotism is different from nationalism and unfortunately displaying the flag for the last four years has come off as quite, well…nationalistic.

And that ain’t me.

I love my country the way an adult loves their parents – flaws and all. And as Al Franken said in one of his books, “They [Republicans] love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow.”

So, yeah. I love my country.

But recently, my partner said to me that especially during Pride and around Flag Day (and the 4th of July) it’s important to let everyone know that this is my country and my flag, too, damn it! The far-right nationalists don’t have any ownership over my country’s flag. They don’t get to claim greater allegiance or love because they think “all other countries fuckin’ suck.”

Nope, I’m in the camp of loving my country for its possibilities, for the progress we’ve made, for the trails we’ve blazed, for the challenges we’ve overcome and an incredible amount of warts all over us

So Pride, this year (as well as Flag Day and the 4th) will see an American flag displayed proudly (pun intended) alongside a Pride flag (the progressive version)*.

I’m proud to display it all – the flags no matter how they’re labeled – especially in June and July and especially in 2021.

And I’m happy my children see us display our patriotism with a heaping portion of pride. (Or vice versa.)

We have so much work to do as a country. Our flag is a symbol of all that hard work we’re willing to do…and that we can fly all our true colors side-by-side…even if you want to fly your “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, too.

It’s a free country. Let’s keep it that way.




*as well as our Black Lives Matter sign.

4 yo child's picture of flags and labeled "fag"** and a final addendum: Had to share with you a flag I drew in preschool and labeled “fag”. Glad my mom kept it. Little did she know…