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City of Reading officials marked Pride Month by holding the city’s first Pride flag raising ceremony in the flag garden fronting City Hall on Friday evening.

The flag, a symbol a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride and LGBTQ social movements, was first flown in San Francisco and is now used worldwide.

As many recall, last year’s flag raising was pre-empted by the former mayor, creating an outcry that unfortunately gained Reading unappealing national and international news coverage.

“We are thrilled to celebrate our second Pride Flag raising here in Reading,” said Michelle Dech, executive director of LGBT Center of Greater Reading.

“Our message, as is the message of the Pride Flag, is unity! The biggest strength of humankind lies in unwavering unity. We stand together with the Greater Reading Community and the Reading Pride Celebration to say we must all do better!”

Also, this event falls on the eve of funeral services for the late Richard Spangler, president emeritus of the Reading Pride Celebration, who passed June 5.

Spangler, a Glenside resident and the first openly gay member of the Reading Human Relations Commission, was instrumental in bringing the message of acceptance and tolerance to Reading.

The Mayor and Council honored his memory with the flag raising and expressed condolences to his husband, Benedict M. Renkus, and his family and friends.

Renkus offered this statement on Spangler’s passing provided by the Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania.

“The Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ community lost a giant today; a dear loyal friend, sage mentor and a courageous community activist of the highest order. We’ll miss his undaunted spirit, devilish smile and profound counsel. Richard was someone we looked up to and always delighted in seeing him. He was a pillar and the very best of our LGBTQ+ community and he brought that out in all of us. For that we are eternally grateful. We treasure the thought and take solace in knowing his legacy and spirit will live on in future Reading and Harrisburg Pride Celebrations.”