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Pride banner at Los Angeles church slashed amid rising local anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes

Vishal P. Singh
Harmony Toluca Lake Church's LGBTQ+ Pride banner was found slashed this week. (Credit:

Pastor Mark Stephenson of Harmony Toluca Lake Church in Los Angeles started his Wednesday morning with a text message from a neighbor telling him that the church’s Pride banner had been slashed. The banner has been placed outside of the church during Pride for at least seven years and this is the first time it was ever damaged.

Lesbian Pride flag belonging to a transgender teacher burned.

Stephenson reported the incident as a hate crime today. This comes barely a week after nearby Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood suffered a break-in where a transgender teacher’s lesbian Pride flag was burned. The transgender teacher had to be transferred to a different school in the interest of safety after far-right extremists online targeted them for their gender identity.

​Lesbian Pride flag belonging to a transgender teacher burned.


Following that hate crime, anti-LGBTQ+ extremists rallied outside of the school during their Pride assembly— yelling anti-gay slurs, telling young queer people to hang themselves, and ultimately perpetrating multiple assaults and violent hate crimes that left at least one person outside of the school unresponsive. There is a GoFundMe page to support the victim of the attack, which notes that the unresponsive victim received a concussion and is also unhoused.

Los Angeles County is becoming a hotspot for anti-LGBTQ+ violence and hate crimes. Days after anti-LGBTQ+ violence hit Saticoy Elementary— many of the same extremists involved teamed up with the white supremacist group the Proud Boys and others in order to target the Glendale Unified School Board meeting. This predictably ended in even more hate crimes and violent attacks by anti-LGBTQ+ extremists, drawing national attention.


Churches who support LGBTQ+ rights have found themselves in the crosshairs of Christian nationalists who reject the rights and existence of queer people. In addition to the hate crime vandalism against Harmony Toluca Lake— a pro-LGBTQ+ pastor present at the anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in Glendale was pepper sprayed by a far-right extremist. He was later targeted with online harassment by far-right Trump supporters like fascist agitator Jairo Rodriguez and Sylvia Araujo, of the Proud Boys affiliated LEXIT.


Disappointed in the hate against the LGBTQ+ community, Stephenson is not deterred. He told the Los Angeles Times that the banner will either be repaired or replaced before the next Sunday service. He says that he will fight to make sure hate does not win. “I feel that it’s important that the neighbors, as well as our faith community, understand that we are susceptible to the biases and prejudice of others.”


Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief Impact Officer Terra Russell-Slavin told ABC7 that she found herself “really deeply upset and saddened by [this] level of violence, that there are people out there protesting families like mine, and that we're facing these extreme far right [attacks],” adding that these are “coordinated and organized attacks."


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