Just two days before a gay pride float was to appear in the annual Fourth of July parade in Anchorage, Alaska, it was torched in an apparent case of arson. The fire also destroyed the garage and damaged the home of Ken and Paula Butner – allies of the LGBT community who kept the float in a car tent in front of their garage. The float belonged to the Imperial Court of All Alaska, an organization supporting the gay community. Many in the community fear that this fire may be a hate crime.
The Anchorage Fire Department has now concluded that the fire was deliberately set and
has begun a criminal investigation in search of the arsonist. A fund was set up to help the Butners repair their home and rebuild their garage. Their new garage will have security cameras and will be big enough to store the float inside.
The LGBT community of Anchorage immediately rallied and, with donations and support, built a new float in less than 48 hours that included burned pieces salvaged from the original. They named the new float Phoenix Rising, and it won the Grand Prize in the July Fourth parade.
GLAAD is pleased with the way the media has covered this story. It has been on newscasts and blogs around the world, and the coverage has been overwhelmingly fair, accurate and inclusive. It is a great example of LGBT advocates being recognized and celebrated for their work. All involved should be commended for giving this story the attention it deserves. We’ll keep you posted on any new developments in the investigation.