Twenty-year-old Scout Register got a call from his sister Saturday night while he was at a friend's house. She had just seen mean in two white trucks come by and steal his gay-pride flag — again.
This was the second time it happened in a week, and so Register, upset, asked his sister to come pick him up. Register had stuck the rainbow flag in his family's front lawn in Tomball following the deadly attack at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on June 12, which left 49 innocent people dead and another 53 wounded. This, he said, was just flat-out disrespectful to the victims and their families.
But before his sister even left the house, she saw the vandals come back. They brought the flag back too: It was cut up and on fire — with a swastika spray-painted on it in black.
“I was horrified — for quite a different number of reasons,” said Register, who is gay. “This was not just an attack on my flag and my property. It was an attack on the victims who have already gone through such an awful experience, and on the entire LGBT community.”
But by now, whatever statement the vandals thought they were so tastefully making following the nation's deadliest mass shooting in history, it's been shut out.
Following the crime, Register posted a photo of the torn-up flag on Facebook, writing, “If they think this is going to make me hide who I am, they are dead wrong. This only makes me want to shine even brighter.”
*The post has been shared over 6,000 times. (See update below)
Register said he has heard from people across the world in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Vietnam. One of Register's favorite comments on Facebook came from a man who said he didn't agree with the “gay lifestyle,” but was still disheartened by what had happened in light of all the LGBTQ people who had lost their lives because of hate. “I think it showed that if you strip away race and religion and political identity and sexual and gender identity, if you strip away all of that, we're all just people,” Register said.
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Register has filed a police report with Harris County Precinct 4 and said the officers, too, showed just as much outrage and support.
The vandals happened to be dumb enough to record the incident on Snapchat — and the short clip that showed them setting the flag on fire with a lighter and clutching a can of aerosol made its way back to Register's sister's phone. Register said his sister believes she knows who at least one of the vandals is, which she shared with the cops. As Register said in his Facebook post, “Jokes on them I guess.”
Register said while he didn't expect anything beyond a few angry reactions from his Facebook friends, he's hoping the post continues to be shared across the globe. He said he knows what it can be like to be young and afraid to be yourself — but if he had seen this outpouring of support from gay and straight people alike years ago, he said, it would've made him feel more confident to embrace his identity.
“Love wins,' is kind of a thing that people say,” Register said. “But it's important to realize just how true that statement is.”
*Update, June 23, 11:33 a.m.: Scout Register reached out to let us know that anti-LGBTQ people reported his original post as "inappropriate" to Facebook, and so after it had been shared more than 10,000 times, Facebook removed it. We have embedded his new post above.