Yesterday, just before 4:45pm the mood of dozens of people with several City Council Members in front of Reading’s City Hall was jubilant and anxious to witness a historical moment of the PRIDE rainbow flag being raised. Instead minutes later we were told that the Mayor just minutes before notified City officials that the flag raising was not happening because flag represents a political cause. The flag represents a people, a community actively involved and incorporated in the greater community as citizens of Reading and Berks County. We are angry and disappointed that our beloved city and the support that we have received over the past years, has been tainted by a single person, Mayor Wally Scott, who proclaims his administration as one of “Positive Change”. He has been the only Mayor not to attend any Pride during his tenure. Our neighboring city of Lancaster held a similar flag raising just hours before without incident. This to happen on the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the 10th Anniversary of the LGBTQ+ community being added to the ordinance that protects us from discrimination in Reading and 13 years of working with the City for real positive change, is a stain on the Mayor’s legacy.
Last evening we, Reading PRIDE Celebration, held a scheduled meeting to put the final touches on the Festival and the need for additional volunteers for this weekend. Instead the meeting was to address the incident. The General Committee, the governing body of Reading PRIDE Celebration, voted unanimously to file a complaint of discrimination against the Mayor with the Human Rights Commission in City Hall on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community of Reading. It goes to show you, discrimination is still in this day and age, an issue to be dealt with and we will continue to stand firm on the right side of history.
ACTION ALERT: The next City Council Meeting is on Monday, July 22nd at 7pm at City Hall and you are invited to attend to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and bring your rainbow flags. It was City Council that helped arrange for the flag raising.
Ben Renkus, President of Reading PRIDE Celebration