The colors of the rainbow disappeared in a flash.
Watching video footage back on their Nest doorbell camera, Tessa Flores and her wife, Kristina Flores, could clearly see a young man approach the porch of their Southeast Austin home and steal their pride flag in broad daylight.
"We never imagined anything like that would happen here," Tessa Flores said. "We were really disappointed thinking someone in the neighborhood feels this way about us."
RELATED: Cedar Park couple say ‘I do’ at drive-in theater during pandemic
Tessa Flores posted photos on the neighborhood Facebook page relaying the incident, which happened two weeks ago, and asking if anyone recognized the man in the doorbell footage. Neighbors vowed to keep an eye out. But then they took it a step further. They decided to blanket the neighborhood in pride flags as a show of solidarity.
"If it was targeting, what happens if everybody has the flag?" said neighbor Christopher Lanier, who purchased 20 pride flags to distribute throughout the neighborhood after reading the Facebook post. "You can’t take them all. That was kind of my thought."
To drive through the Goodnight Ranch neighborhood now is to see many houses awash with color, from traditional pride flags to "Love is love" garden signs to rainbow window decals. The Flores home, too, showcases a new pride flag, thanks to a neighbor who, after hearing about the incident, immediately brought over a new one, along with some fresh-baked banana bread.
"It was cool to see these really straight, confident men were willing to throw out the rainbow flag on their house in five seconds flat," Tessa Flores said, adding that she hopes to one day raise a family in the neighborhood. "It meant everything to us. It’s one thing for people to be nice and polite in passing, but to know we have this deep sense of support in our neighborhood made us feel really good."
Lanier, who has lived in the neighborhood with his wife for a little over a year, said the idea of someone taking the flag was "crazy."
"Not everyone is as active an advocate as they could be, but given the opportunity to stand up and actively make a decision, most people will rise to the occasion," Lanier said. "It’s a matter of doing the right thing by people, especially our neighbors. It’s kind of a crazy time right now, so anything you can do to help somebody else is worth doing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be kind and respectful."
For Tessa Flores, the incident has offered proof that there are indeed rainbows after every storm.
"This experience was a whirlwind of love and acceptance," Tessa Flores said. "It feels amazing to know we’re in this really wonderful, supportive and welcoming community that would stand in solidarity with us. It was a negative experience that turned into a blessing."