KAYSVILLE, Utah — A Kaysville family is thanking the community for an outpouring of support, after the family discovered someone tore down their rainbow pride flag, lit it on fire, then left a derogatory note behind.
Kaysville Police is now investigating it as a hate crime and hoping to find the person responsible.
It's not the only incident regarding an LGBTQ pride flag reported to police this week. A resident in Murray told FOX 13 they, too, had to call police after what happened in their front yard.
This is all coming right as the Utah Pride Festival Story Garden opened to the public Thursday.
Within the exhibit, there's an area where hand-written notes are hanging from strings stretched along a fence.
In the middle of the area, a table with pens and paper sits ready for people to write down their deepest thoughts and feelings, to hang on the display with clothes pins.
Some notes ask questions.
The answers include anything from fears, to hopes.
Some people explained what they wish the most would come true in the world.
"Equity for all," wrote one person. "Every kid finds their love and community," wrote another.
Another area of the Story Garden is set aside just for LGBTQ youth to hang out, have fun, and find community. There's a note there too printed on a sign, written by Amanda Darrow. She's the Youth, Family, and Education Director at the Utah Pride Center.
"You deserve to belong, you deserve to love, you deserve to be you," the sign reads.
"I wanted them to know that we are here in this space to make them find their true, authentic selves," Darrow said.
Those authentic selves are often expressed symbolically through the LGBTQ rainbow pride flag, and Darrow explained the flags show representation. The flags can be seen waving in front yards of thousands of Utah homes this month.
"When I put it out, I'm saying, 'This is me and I'm proud,'" she said. "And when other people are doing it that are say, allies-- they're doing it to say, 'I love you too and I'm proud of you too.'"
It's that message that was flying at a Kaysville home, when it was met with another kind of note, also expressing deep feelings. Wednesday night, Kaysville Police said someone cut down the pride flag from the home's flagpole, then lit it on fire.
The person left behind a lengthy note, titled "Your shameless degeneracy is a mockery to God's creation."
"The note just had a bunch of scriptures from the bible that were talking about the pride community," Kaysville Officer Lexi Benson said.
She described the words in the note as "derogatory."
"We are currently investigating this as a hate crime," she said. "It's going to be, we're looking at arson charges."
The hate crime would enhance the degree of the arson charge, Ofc. Benson explained.
In Murray, at least a few residents reported that their pride flags were stolen. One person told Fox 13 they reported the theft to police. Another told Fox 13 someone stole her daughter's flag that was on display in front of the house. Her daughter had just come out recently.
"We were absolutely heartbroken," Darrow said, upon hearing what happened in Kaysville and Murray.
She said it starts to make them feel like people don't want them to exist.
"It's not just us as adults that this is affecting. This is affecting children," she said. "These are children in these homes that are showing their pride-- sometimes for the first time-- and people are taking that from them."
Despite the negative actions, Darrow indicated that the deep feelings of love and support prevail.
It's evident by the notes within the Story Garden.
"I cherish my gorgeous queer children," one person wrote.
"Stop worrying about others opinions," read another note.
"I'm good enough," said another.
Later Thursday evening, the Kaysville family posted in a social media group that they have received messages of support and love, as well as small gifts like flowers and a brand-new pride flag to replace the one that was burned.
"My message is to you: If you are out there taking our flags, or you're taking our symbols-- know that you can't take away our pride," Darrow said. "You can't take away the love we have for ourselves, the love we have for our community."