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Burnaby trans activist makes plea for return of historic transgender pride flag

'It’s waved above the heads of queer freedom fighters for the last 20 years,' says Leada Stray of the transgender pride flag that went missing from the window of their Capitol Hill home Wednesday.
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Burnaby trans activist Leada Stray holds a transgender pride flag at Grand Central Station in New York City in 2019. The flag had been signed the day before by the creator of the transgender flag, Monica Helms.

A transgender pride flag with a storied history has gone missing in Burnaby, and its owner is making a plea for its return.

Leada Stray, a Metro Vancouver drag entertainer, trans activist and self-proclaimed “thorn in the side of anyone who tries to do bad things,” bought the pastel pink, blue and white flag 20 years ago at Little Sisters Bookstore in Vancouver. 

Stray had hung it in the front window of their Capitol Hill home after two decades of bringing it along on activist adventures around the world.

“It’s waved above the heads of queer freedom fighters for the last 20 years,” Stray told the NOW. “It’s seen every major Canadian human rights fight in the last 20 years. It’s travelled to places like Australia, Moscow Pride, New York City, Europe. It’s gone everywhere.”

Yesterday afternoon (April 19), however, Stray found their front window open and off its track – and the flag nowhere to be found.

“It was shocking that somebody would actually break into my house,” said Stray, who is concerned about a rise in transphobia across the globe and especially in North America.

As a leader in the community, Stray feels responsible to protect the history of the flag and is putting out a call for its return.

“Whoever it was obviously does not know the historical significance,” Stray said. “They can return it no questions asked, no police, no nothing. Or if they’ve destroyed it or gotten rid of it, they could email us and just tell us what happened to it because at least that way we can write an end to that chapter.”

The flag is faded and a more pastel pink and blue than its contemporary counterparts.

Its most distinctive feature is that it has been signed by the transgender pride flag’s creator, Monica Helms.

Stray took the flag to New York during the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Stonewall riots in 2019 and had Helms sign it before retiring it.

“It just got to a point where it was like, ‘No, this is too precious to take everywhere with me,’” Stray said. 

Anyone with information about the flag’s whereabouts is asked to email Stray at transprideflagrecovery@gmail.com.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com