LGBTQ Pride flag banned by HOA, Wisconsin home finds lights loophhole

MILWAUKEE – When a neighborhood association told homeowners in Wisconsin that their Pride flag needed to be removed, they found a clever loophole – one that took the Pride message to new heights while promoting their home on the internet.

Memo Fachino and husband Lance Mier replaced the flag with a rainbow floodlight, and Fachino took up the humor of the moment by posting it on a Reddit forum celebrating unusual ways of circumventing the rules.

The sentry picked up pace and inevitably turned into swear words about overzealous homeowner associations, but Fachino had no intention of opposing it. After all, he’s on his Racine neighborhood council.

“We’re not trying to blame anyone,” said Fachino. “We don’t feel attacked or attacked in our community. We just had fun showing our individuality and support in a way that doesn’t break the HOA rules.”

The rules require that only one flag be hoisted on each house: the official US flag. Not even a flag representing a sports team is allowed.

At some point, a neighbor spotted his rainbow flag and asked the association the question, which led to an email notification that it had to go – and prompted Fachino and Mier to come up with the bright solution.

Fachino and Mier bought a few lightbulbs in different hues online, but otherwise already had the equipment for them. Fachino then posted the picture of his home on a Reddit “Malicious Compliance” subreddit, which has 1.5 million members celebrating “people who match the letter but not the spirit of a request”.

The lights were kept in check – after all, Fachino would know.

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Within 48 hours, the Post had more than 80,000 upvotes, 6,000 comments and attention even from the UK on The Independent.

“I’ve posted other things in other subreddits; it’s not like I’m a content creator trying to see which of my stuff will blow up, ”said Fachino. “It was just a coincidental thing.”

The no-flag rule was the result of a few tense years in the neighborhood and some “puckered feathers” over political disagreements. The board members had difficulty in correctly phrasing the language to allow flags from sports teams or other flags without a political message.

Fachino said he wanted to be “a bigger part of the conversation” when he joined the neighborhood council and, while disagreeing with the flag policy, said he focused his attention on bigger issues when the latest bylaws were approved.

“There are a few other flags in the neighborhood that haven’t come down, mostly because no one has reported them,” he said. “Whatever the reason, a neighbor happened to report mine. I don’t know the reason and haven’t gone around reporting everyone else. We didn’t try to make a big statement (against the association) either.”

Fachino said his lights usually only burn three hours a night, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. He lives at the end of a cul-de-sac, so there have been no problems.

“It’s not that the traffic comes through and people stop to take pictures,” he said.

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“The neighbors I heard from supported me,” said Fachino. “I didn’t share it on the neighborhood app or try to make a big point that everyone should know about it.

And hey, maybe there is an added benefit.

“Lightbulb companies will have fun developing a Pride edition of lightbulbs that you can ship in a box in June,” he said. “Maybe the profit could go to a foundation or something. We just had fun.”

Follow JR Radcliffe on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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