When her home was vandalized with homophobic graffiti last week, Erin Kennedy DeLong knew she had to fight back.
Her 17-year-old daughter, Miranda, had awoken DeLong and her husband, Joe, when she'd found "I'm Gay" scrawled in gray spray paint on the garage door of the family's home in Villas, New Jersey in the middle of the night. DeLong said she and Joe ultimately wanted to reinforce to both Miranda and their daughter Emily, 14, who both identify as bisexual, that "they have nothing to be ashamed of."
So DeLong decided she and her daughters would clean off the graffiti and, rather than restore the garage door to its original pristine appearance, give it a rainbow paint job and create what the Evolequals blog called "the largest rainbow flag image for miles around." Doing so, she told The Huffington Post, would "proudly and loudly say we're an LGBT household, and we're OK with that."
"We decided that some announcements deserve more than gray spray paint," DeLong, who also has a 9-year-old son, Joey, wrote on the "Stop-Homophobia" Facebook page.
As these photos from the family can attest, the new garage door is indeed striking. But DeLong says the criticism she's received about the paint job has rivaled the overwhelming praise.
"Family, friends, and countless strangers have been extremely positive and supportive," she said. Some neighborhood kids, she added, have been "tough," yelling anti-gay epithets at her and her family members, but "we just try to let it roll off our backs. What they do says more about their character than ours."
Still, the incident as a whole, she said, has been eye-opening, and in more ways than one.
"We've learned that there is a much longer road to travel on the way to LGBT acceptance," she said. "It's great to have people tell us we are being great parents, but it would be even better if what we did was considered just normal parenting, and not amazing."
She went on to note, "We want our kids to be accepting, empathetic, good people, and we do that by being examples of those things."
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