One Wisconsin couple found a creative way to comply with their homeowner’s association’s request to take down their Pride flag and still keep Pride Month going strong at their house.
Memo Fachino and his husband, Lance Mier, love to make their Racine home festive for the season, whether it’s Pride or Christmas. So when they received an email from their HOA saying their Pride flag needed to be removed from the front of their house based on a rule about flags in general, the couple figured out exactly what to do.
“We kind of like to play around with the front yard of our house,” says Fachino, who had colored lights from a previous display. “So we knew we could wash our front with lights. It was just a matter of getting a few we didn’t have.”
Earlier this month, Fachino and Mier posted a photo of their rainbow-drenched home to the popular Reddit page “Malicious Compliance,” where people post examples of how they “[conform] to the letter, but not the spirit, of a request.” The post soon went viral, garnering over 6,300 comments.
“Due to some neighbors flying BLM flags, Thin Blue Line flags, and other opinion flags, our HOA decided last month that we’re only allowed to fly the USA flag, and nothing else,” they wrote.
As a member of the neighborhood board, Fachino was well-versed in the rules, and says that the HOA established the one banning flags other than the U.S. flag because of friction between residents flying flags from opposite ends of the political spectrum.
“We complied and removed the flag. … [W]e bought 6 colored flood lights, and we washed our house in pride colors. A little less subtle than our simple flag. A lot more fun for anyone complaining about the flag itself and what it represents,” the Reddit post reads.
“We couldn’t do the flag, so we went through the rules and found out flood lights are acceptable and decided to do this for Pride,” Fachino tells Apartment Therapy. “It blew up from there.”
Now, the lights illuminate their home in a rainbow of colors for two to three hours per day, and are turned off by 10 p.m.
Despite the uproar, Fachino is quick to point out that the couple wasn’t targeted simply because the flag they posted was a celebration of Pride.
“We don’t want to fabricate a struggle. We were not breaking through targeted attacks,” says Fachino. “It was like, ‘If it’s not a U.S. flag, you need to take it down.’ We definitely never felt targeted.”
The couple hasn’t received any negative feedback from the HOA, since they’re well aware they’re within their rights. While there have been a few comments here and there, Fachino says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“All of the people I’ve talked to have been supportive and find it somewhat clever,” says Fachino. “There’s always going to be people that don’t agree. But they’re not my immediate circle, so it’s like any stranger telling me they don’t like my beard: I don’t care.”