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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: Delaware library forced to take down Pride flag

A Delaware library was forced to take down its Pride flag last Friday, causing outrage from some.

“I was super proud of my library (where I work) for putting a pride flag outside this month,” Milton, Del., library employee Jillian Brenneman wrote in a now-deleted post on Facebook. She did not respond to a Facebook message asking for comment. “That is until Sussex County Government decided they needed to be homophobic and force us to take it down.”

Reached by phone Monday, Sussex County Department of Libraries Director Rachel Lynch said the flag’s removal was a county decision. The county only allows American flags, Delaware flags, and Sussex County flags to be flown outside of the building. A Sussex County spokesperson confirmed that in a short interview and said that flying the three flags is not a written policy. Rather, Chip Guy said, it is a custom.

The decision to take down the Pride flag left Fred Munzert, who runs the Milton Theatre, disappointed.

“I know our staff was really excited to see the library put the Pride flag up. It made them feel comfortable,” he said in an interview. “It made them feel good about the town that they lived in and worked in.”

Munzert has led a campaign to “paint the town rainbow” since 2019, where the theater gives out Pride flags to people and businesses. He’s seen more and more Pride flags around town since his campaign.

The display, though, doesn’t come without its opponents in the town of about 3,500 residents. He said Milton Theatre staff have received plenty of emails and phone calls about the flags – one told him that he must display the American flag alongside it and even gave him an American flag to hang up.

“I’m just always surprised, like, just do your thing. I’ll do my thing,” he said. “Nobody’s bothering anybody.”

Hanging the flag was Milton Public Library Director Jill DiPaolo’s idea, Munzert said. Before the county removed the flag, he said DiPaolo emailed him to apologize and said it was a decision from higher up. DiPaolo was unavailable to comment and did not immediately return a voicemail.

Since the flag’s removal, some staff members haven’t felt accepted by the county anymore, Munzert said. Guy, the Sussex County communications director, said the county was just enforcing county norms.

“The county is not sending a message or a symbol,” he emphasized.

The whole situation should’ve been avoided in the first place, Munzert said.

“I wish it would have never been hung, then it just would have been what it was,” he said.

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