A quiet sadness settled upon the household of Casey and Zadette Handal one Chicago afternoon in December.
Looking out the window of their sunroom, they noticed that the vibrant colors of their pride flag, once hanging proudly outside their home, had been taken down and replaced with stars and stripes.
“It was just gut-wrenching,” said Casey upon detecting the change. Though their friends reassured the couple that it was probably kids just messing around, no one could shake the hateful sentiments in the air.
“Why put up an American flag? That’s making a statement,” they exclaimed.
In an effort to start a conversation and perhaps get any information on who the culprit was, Casey posted on Nextdoor about the incident. The post received comment after comment, with dozens of neighbors upset about what had happened, and expressing their support to the Handal family.
“The response was crazy – for days and days I was getting notifications … there wasn’t one comment that was negative.”
Amidst the overwhelming support, one neighbor replied to the post offering to give away extra pride flags for the whole community. Soon, the streets were adorned with rainbows as neighbors hung the flags outside their homes in solidarity with the Handals.
Their neighborhood also got together to organize a community-wide Secret Santa, which anonymously gifted rainbow-themed presents to Casey and Zadette everyday to express their support.
After they got married, they threw a rainbow-themed party and invited everyone who put up flags and participated in the Secret Santa. “We are very grateful, and we expressed our gratitude and how touched we were by the entire experience.”
Casey and Zadette’s story is one of many that demonstrates how Nextdoor can bring people together. They both expressed their excitement in their newfound neighborly connections, “We didn’t know 95% of the people that commented – we do now!” Although the circumstances that brought these neighbors together wasn’t a positive one, the outcome of love and support that shined through after was.
Being new to the area (the couple moved in 6 months prior) can be a little intimidating. Yet Zadette explains how, “When all this happened … it just opened my mind to think ‘Okay, this is somewhere where I can live, this is somewhere where I can make connections with people and this is somewhere where I can feel a bit more open about living in the area.’”
Pride month offers another great opportunity to show our support for all neighbors. As a platform used by people from all backgrounds and walks of life, we are proud of the many ways members use Nextdoor to meet and build strong connections both on and offline. We are inspired by Zadette and Casey’s community, and hope to continue fostering the neighborly love and kindness that they have demonstrated.