Pride flag vandalized in Saranac Lake
SARANAC LAKE — A pride flag at the home of a transgender woman in Saranac Lake was vandalized this weekend. Police are investigating the incident.
Kelly Metzgar, executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance, has lived in the village for nearly 39 years as an out trans woman who flies her flags “proudly.” She said this was the “first instance” of harassment she’s experienced.
“I knew it was bound to happen at some point,” Metzgar wrote on social media on Sunday.
Metzgar was conflicted in how to react to the vandalism.
“I don’t want to make it bigger than it was. It was more of an inconvenience,” she said. “I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill but maybe I don’t realize the significance of what this molehill is. … At first I was just going to pass it off. But after a little while I thought ‘You know, that’s actually a hate crime.'”
She stressed that the incident was “more of an inconvenience” but wanted to make others aware of what happened.
Metzgar flies two flags on hangers from her front porch — an intersex all inclusive LGBTQIA-plus flag and a transgender flag. They were both installed this summer, she said, and had “flown undisturbed until this past weekend.”
When she got her mail on Saturday at noon, both flags were flying. When she left her house again shortly before 3 p.m., the intersex all inclusive flag was missing. Getting back later that afternoon, she found the flag on the ground behind a bush in front of her house.
The transgender flag was still flying, which Metzgar found surprising.
“There was nothing horrible or costly, just a ‘minor inconvenience’ really,” Metzgar wrote. “Still the effort and planning are something to take into consideration.”
Cleaning and re-hanging the flag took all of 15 minutes, Metzgar said.
She filed a potential hate crime complaint with the Saranac Lake Police Department, but said she does not expect a resolution to the vandalism. She felt it’s unlikely the person who did it will be caught. But the police officers she spoke with were helpful, she said.
SLPD Chief Darin Perrotte said on Monday there was no new information on the investigation.
Surveying the scene, Metzgar said it was clear the flag was “purposely dismantled.”
Three screws had to be taken out from the door frame. One on the bottom was ripped out of the hole and was bent in the process. It must have taken a bit of work, she said.
“There wasn’t damage, so I don’t want to sound like a martyr,” Metzgar said.
But she did want to call attention to it. Many others fly pride flags in the area, she said, and she said they should be aware.
Metzgar said she didn’t feel the flag vandalism was done on a specific day for a reason, but highlighted the general tone of the country’s discourse over transgender and LGBTQIA-plus rights right now.
“Why is it happening now? Because we see a lot of hate in this country,” Metzgar said. “We see that from politicians. We see that from community members.”
From recent anti-transgender legislation in other states to a mass shooting at an LGBTQIA-plus nightclub in Colorado last month, there has been a lot of news about transgender people recently, and Metzgar said there are many who do not support people like her.
“There is just a lot of hate in this country. I didn’t think we had it here in Saranac Lake, so that was actually kind of surprising,” Metzgar said.
She said it was a bit of a wakeup call that “there are haters here.”
“With the level of anti-LGBTQI and transgender hate in this country, this serves as a reminder that even in our seemingly secure Saranac Lake, there are haters in our community looking to cause chaos and mayhem,” she wrote on Facebook.
With the work she does as the executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance, Metzgar said she is a “target.” But because she believes her work with the nonprofit is important to stave off or reduce this type of hate, she puts herself out there.
The ANCGA hosted Saranac Lake’s first LGBTQIA-plus pride festival this past summer in Riverside Park.
“So people don’t have to go through — especially the young people — the bulls***,” Metzgar said. “People shouldn’t have to go through what we went through when we were young.”
“I am unphased by this overall. Perhaps a bit more mindful which is a good thing,” Metzgar wrote. “I will not allow this incident to frighten or scare me. I am proud of who I am and what I’ve had to go through in life to be able to live authentically.”
She said it made it clear she had more work to do.
“If the intent was fear, then it’s like ‘Yeah, no,'” Metzgar said. “We won’t let the haters win.”