NEW YORK — The Trump administration reportedly pushed back on the National Park Service flying the LGBTQ Pride flag at Christopher Street Park across the street from the Stonewall Inn.
Emails obtained by E&E News through a Freedom of Information Act request show that the administration scrambled after the flag was first raised in 2017.
The environmental news sites reported that local LGBTQ activists had said it was the first time the flag was permanently raised on federal land, which had the then Interior Department assistant deputy secretary demanding an explanation.
From E&E News:
The 992-page cache of emails details what happened next: On Oct. 6, 2017, only five days before a ceremony to honor the flag’s arrival, Willens ordered the flag removed, setting off a scramble among NPS officials who sought to present a united front to explain the sudden reversal.
In the end, NPS and Interior officials had it both ways: The rainbow flag that signifies gay pride would fly at Stonewall, but on a flagpole deemed not on federal property, even though it’s inside the monument’s boundary lines and the park’s own superintendent assumed it was owned by the federal government. The NPS disposed of the flag by donating it to the New York parks department, which now owns both the flagpole and the flag.
While some local park officials were confused by the about-face, the Washington office signed off on a series of talking points to guide them.
Minerva Anderson, chief of communications for the National Parks of New York Harbor, appeared to follow the script when she told a top NPS official how she had described the transfer to a reporter.
“We partner with N.Y. city parks to manage Christopher Park, so we gifted the flag to them. Oy vey,” she wrote to Jane Ahern, NPS associate regional director for external affairs.
With the pride flag still on full display under its new ownership, the public won’t notice anything different at the Stonewall National Monument when New York hosts WorldPride this weekend, celebrating gay liberation 50 years after the Stonewall uprising.
The site said that the National Park Service is still taking heat for the sudden reversal two years ago. Organizers said the emails showed how the administration was working to distance itself from the LGBTQ community.
“The feds were washing their hands of the whole project — it was crazy town; it was shocking,” said Ken Kidd, an events organizer and a longtime activist from New York. Until that point, communication had been great.
The Park Service declined requests to comment from E&E about the emails and would not say what prompted the review.
President Obama proclaimed the area a National Monument in 2016.