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O.C. Fair Board votes to fly LGBTQ pride flag at Costa Mesa fairgrounds year-round

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Flagpoles at the OC Fair & Event Center will soon have a new addition after the Orange County Fair Board voted Thursday to display the LGBTQ pride flag at the Costa Mesa fairgrounds.
(Photo by Luke Money)

The day after the LGBTQ pride flag caught its first breeze at Costa Mesa City Hall, the Orange County Fair Board agreed to hoist the banner across the street.

With Thursday’s vote, the OC Fair & Event Center joined a recent flurry of area agencies deciding to fly the rainbow flag.

Though city officials in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach have authorized displaying the banner at their respective city halls from Harvey Milk Day on May 22 through June — LGBT Pride Month — the flag will fly year-round at the 150-acre, state-owned fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

Fair Board member Andreas Meyer, who brought the idea forward, said raising the flag sends a clear message that all are welcome to the fairgrounds at 88 Fair Drive.

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“It’s a point of everyone feeling included, and there’s not necessarily a history [of that] at summer fairs,” Meyer said. “Speaking as a member of the LGBTQ community, it isn’t always comfortable when you walk in, and I’ve heard that from other members of the community. But when you see a rainbow flag flying, the sense of safety that that gives you and the sense of welcomeness that that gives you — for a community that can otherwise be invisible, [it] is very, very important.”

As part of the board’s 6-1 vote — with members Ashleigh Aitken and Newton Pham absent and Barbara Bagneris opposed — it also adopted a resolution recognizing the history and contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Bagneris said she was “OK with the resolution” but didn’t support having the pride flag up all the time.

“I’d like to see, in Black History Month, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ flag flown. Is that something we want to do, to have more people come and ask us to fly more flags year-round on the property because of their interest?” she said. “And I think we are going down a slippery slope if we do that and we would be setting precedent for that. ... Flying the flag for June, I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with it being flown year-round.”

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