The 8-meter-long rainbow flag flew from the town hall for less than 48 hours. But after a trio of complaints led to its withdrawal, residents of the southern Spanish town of Villanueva de Algaidas responded quickly, coating the town’s bars, buildings and balconies with more of 500 rainbow flags.
City officials of approximately 4,200 people raised the flag at the town hall to celebrate Pride Month since 2018. This year was no exception, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling banning Spanish administrations from hang unofficial flags on government buildings.
After three residents went to the police, citing the decision and requesting that the flag be removed, officials said they had no other option. “The move was unfortunately short lived,” officials said in a statement. “The government team was forced to remove the flag.”
The news quickly reached Antonio Carlos Alcántara, who had moved to nearby Torremolinos after growing up in Villanueva de Algaidas. “It bothered me to have to bring down a flag that neither hurt nor disturbed anyone,” he told the Guardian. A quick glance at the city’s Facebook page confirmed that he was not the only one upset by the decision.
He realized that he might have a solution. With pride in mind, he had ordered hundreds of rainbow flags for sale in his Costa del Sol store. But after the coronavirus canceled the local pride celebrations, the flags were now seated in its pantry. “So I left a comment on the city’s Facebook page, telling residents that I would bring them a free flag if they wanted to.”
Over 100 responses poured in, prompting Alcántara to load his car with the 400 flags he had in stock. By the time he arrived, the news had spread.
“The whole village wanted to put a flag,” he said. He spent hours distributing the flags, transforming the Andalusian White city – white city – in a riot of colors.
When Alcántara ran out of flags, residents turned to the local store, also emptying it. A second shipment was hastily organized and sold out just as quickly.
The Supreme Court’s decision on flags has created a headache for cities in Spain during pride celebrations, some like Cadiz and Barcelona openly defying the court to hang rainbow flags. The judgment was rendered in response to the use of a flag associated with separatism in the Canary Islands.
But no municipality responded to the decision, as did Villanueva de Algaidas. “I knew the city was very tolerant, open and respectful,” said Alcántara, highlighting the vote last year use a picture of two women holding hands and sporting rainbow bracelets to promote your local holiday.
“Now I am trying to suggest that it should not just become something that has happened once and never,” he said. “Each year Villanueva de Algaidas should fill up with color.”