Stand with the Albany Damien Center today

For over 25 years, the Albany Damien Center has provided help and shelter and support for those who suffer from the ravages and scars of HIV and AIDS.  The charitable organization has been there through good time and hard times, with one simple goal in mind – to offer a broad view in a world full of tunnel vision.

Yesterday, organizers of the Damien Center discovered that the rainbow-hued pride flag that flew outside their Albany offices had been desecrated.

Burned, actually.

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Those are not rips in that flag.  Those are burn marks.  Someone set the banner on fire.

Times Union reporter Bethany Bump has more on the story.  Less than two weeks after the horrific shooting rampage in an Orlando nightclub … now this.

This isn’t just an attack on a piece of fabric.  It’s an attack on an organization that has, for the past twenty-five years, been part of the fabric of a diverse and strong community.  This action desecrates not only what the Damien Center stands for, but what it has achieved in this region.

And what does an action like this truly achieve?

Honestly… I’m hoping it has this effect.

I hope that this horrible, reprehensible, vulgar action helps unite the Capital Region against such hatred and bigotry.  I hope it unites the LGBTQ and straight communities, until both say, with one voice, “No more.”

Because, in the end, a rainbow is not just a symbol of LGBTQ pride.  It’s a symbol of the covenant between God and His human creations.  All human creations. The entire human race.

Rainbow from Central Avenue and South Lake Avenue, Albany NY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

As a society, as a culture, we are stronger than this.  We need to stand together as one, and work toward a more just and inclusive society.

We need to help those who battle every single day with a destroyed immune system and who just want to get through the day without pain or fear or worry.

We need to help those who don’t understand that the human immunodeficiency virus does not discriminate against anyone.  It attacks whether you are gay or straight.  It attacks whether you are black or white.  It attacks whether you believe in Abraham or Ibrahim.

Let me put it this way.

How would you feel if you read this morning that someone burned an American flag in the parking lot of a VFW post?

Yeah.  That nasty, grinding feeling in the pit of your stomach.  I understand.  That isn’t a flag being burnt.  It’s what that flag represents.  The many battles and wars to protect our freedom and our livelihood and our community.

And it’s the same with the pride flag.

As a straight ally, I stand with the Albany Damien Center and its mission and its goals.  I’ve donated artworks and Dream Windows for their fundraisers, and will continue to do so.

If you have any information regarding the flag-burning, please call Albany police at 462-8039.

We are stronger than this.  Let the support of a thousand roses bloom in a field of weeds.

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2 thoughts on “Stand with the Albany Damien Center today”

  1. Chuck, A correction suggestion- the rainbow banner in question belongs to First Lutheran Church. I’m not sure where the story that it belongs to the Damien Center got its legs, but it’s the church that was attacked in this incident. That banner, and rainbow flags before it, have been flying in front of First Lutheran for more than a decade, every June.

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  2. In any case, I think it DOES work in favor of justice, ultimately.
    My church has rainbow banners, and I’ve wondered what irritable person might react badly to that.

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