After her new neighbor expressed anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, Lexi Magnusson decided to clap back in a festive and symbolic way.
She decorated her home with 10,000 rainbow Christmas lights.
Magnusson posted a photo of her lights on Reddit, describing what inspired her to go all out with the Christmas lights in the caption,
Our new neighbors are bigots. Since regular aggression leads to assault charges, I went with passive aggression. 10,000 lights later.
The new neighbor apparently thought Magnusson would harbor the same beliefs has her on the LGBTQ+ issues, given she assumed they were both Mormon.
Magnusson elaborated on this in the comments on Reddit,
She had learned that we were Mormon from church. We are no longer Mormon, this issue is why I left. She came bouncing over and when my husband told her we no longer attend, she didn't really get the message. She also must have missed the HRC sticker on my car.
The new neighbor was apparently upset by things that happened with LGBTQ+ students at her son's school, but Magnusson was clearly not a fan of her perspectives.
Thinking that we were allies, she went on to tell us how horrified she was when her son got turned down for prom because the girl was already planning on going with her girlfriend. And THEN the junior high had an assembly about transgender people where they spotlighted one of the students who is a transgender boy.
At first, Magnusson thought her neighbor meant the school "outed" the transgender boy, which in her view "is horrifyingly wrong," but she was mistaken:
Nope, he had organized the assembly and spoke of the realities of being transgender. That, coupled with the school's justifications for letting lesbians attend the prom together and doing an assembly that taught kids the facts about being transgender were just too much for her.
Magnusson also told Mashable the neighbor moved her kids away from this school because of all this, which is what landed her in Magnusson's neighborhood:
Can you imagine how brave that kid [at the assembly] had to be? She said that she wanted to get her children away from that sort of influence and people making their 'lifestyle' okay.
To add some context to this interaction between Magnusson and her neighbor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has taken a strong anti-gay stance throughout its history — especially since the 1950s.
The church has recently tried to soften its tone toward the gay community, but rarely acknowledges bisexual or transgender people and is still staunchly against same-sex marriage.
As the Human Rights Campaign puts it,
In the past, gays and lesbians were excommunicated from the church as soon as their orientation was discovered. Being gay was considered by church leaders to be a sinful choice, one that required repentance and could be overcome with different types of reparative therapy. If such treatment failed, gay people would lose their membership in the church. The church also has been a leading, and vocal, opponent of marriage equality for same-sex couples. [...] At the same time, however, the church has solidified its stand against same-sex marriage, reinforcing its view that full salvation cannot come to those who are not married to opposite-sex spouses.
Long story short, the church says you can be gay AND Mormon, but it still doesn't fully accept the LGTBQ+ community.
This helps explain both Magnusson's perspectives as well as those of her neighbor.
For those of us on the side of equality, it's understandable why Magnusson got so upset.
In Magnusson's words,
Here's the thing: I was a fully believing Mormon once. I know where she is coming from. If I had yelled at her it would only feed into her persecution complex and false belief that LGBT people and their allies, along with people who have left the Mormon church, are angry bullies who are not tolerant of other people's views. I hate that whole line of reasoning – but I knew that if she was willing to move her kids to get away from the gays...there would be little I could say to her to change her mind. She would have been right though, I am not tolerant of that 'point of view.' I wanted to say more to her. I wanted to write her a letter telling her how sad I was that she would feel this way about other humans, especially children. But it wouldn't have mattered. Then the election happened and the weight of all of those voters who feel exactly the same as she does really set in.
Magnusson wanted to do more than just have a bumper sticker on her car to show where she stands,
It wasn't just a passive aggressive middle finger at my neighbor, I wanted it something more to show my solidarity and belief than just the Human Rights Campaign stickers on our cars. I've worked in the background to support LGBT causes and have been very vocal on Facebook – but in real life it's still really hard for me. It's probably the wimpy way to go, but it's not nothing.
There's a nice message here: Don't choose aggression; choose to follow the light (or, thousands of rainbow lights, in this case).
With that said, while the thought here is definitely great, Magnusson's electricity bill and the environment might not appreciate it.
Still, good for her for spreading the love. It's very reminiscent of how Mike Pence's new Washington, DC, neighbors recently welcomed him.
Symbols often speak far louder than words.