Gay reverend devastated after Pride flag set on fire in suspected hate crime

Gay Sacramento reverend Matthew Woodward and the burned LGBT+ Pride flag

Police are investigating after someone burned an LGBT+ Pride flag flying from church led by a gay reverend.

Reverend Matthew Woodward, the dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, had decorated his church for Pride month, to “communicate the love of God for all”.

But on Saturday morning (5 June), he realised that someone had burned the flag.

Shared photos of the charred remains on Instagram, he wrote: “So today I awoke to the news that our Pride flag has been taken down from in front of the Cathedral and burned.

“I went out to explore and found the remnants in front of a neighboring building. It saddened me, as we were communicating the love of God for all with our flag.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Matthew Woodward (@matthewtwoodward)

Speaking to The Sacramento Bee, Woodward, who is openly gay, added: “It made me sad this morning to see that somebody wanted to take down what we think was a sign of love and burn it.

“But, you know, love isn’t that easily defeated.”

The reverend reported the incident to police, who confirmed that it is being investigated.

Sacramento Police Department spokesperson Karl Chan told the publication: “We do have detectives assigned to the incident.

“A report is on file and the case is being investigated as a potential hate crime.”

Although the culprit has not yet been identified, Woodward said his congregation had been “very supportive and kind”, and he refused to let the act of hate dampen his Pride spirit.

On the day he found the burned flag, he had been intending to go to a “Pride puppy parade” with his dog, River.

He added on Instagram: “I decided to still go, but upgrade my outfit. I wore my collar and my Pride cape.

“I had great conversations there with members of the Sacramento LGBT center.

“River was the star of course. It was a great moment after a distressing morning.”