The Slatest

Several U.S. Embassies Are Flying Rainbow Flags in Defiance of Trump Administration

A rainbow flag and an American flag flying on a flagpole.
A rainbow flag and an American flag are seen at the Stonewall National Monument, the first LGBTQ national monument, on June 4 in New York City.
Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Several U.S. embassies are defying the Trump administration and flying rainbow flags to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month even though the State Department rejected all requests to hoist rainbow flags on official flagpoles, reports the Washington Post. Some are straight-out not following the order and are flying the rainbow flag below Old Glory, while others are getting around it with rainbow lights, to name one example. Beyond the flag itself, several ambassadors are publishing images of themselves celebrating Pride.

“This is a category one insurrection,” said one diplomat. For most of the past decade, approval to fly a rainbow flag was routine. But now it requires top-level approval from the State Department, and this year all requests were denied, NBC News was first to report earlier this week. Embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil, and Latvia, among others, requested to fly the rainbow flag and were denied.

And it isn’t just about the flags. This year the State Department did not send out an official cable outlining how diplomatic outposts should commemorate Pride Month. The shift seems to have coincided with Mike Pompeo becoming secretary of state. Pompeo is an evangelical Christian who believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

The New York Times reports that U.S. diplomats in Brazil wanted to show support for gay rights at a time when gays are facing a hostile climate following the election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. The State Department denied the request and said that rainbow flags could not be displayed on a “public-facing flagpole.” The “curt rejection” by State Department officials “left gay personnel and their backers reeling,” notes the Times. “American diplomats who are gay described a prevailing mood of fear and angst.”