A Gay Couple is Being Run Out From Their Queen Creek Home
Threats, homophobic slurs, and property damage is making this queer couple reconsider moving to Phoenix's most sprawling suburb.
Thank you for reading LOOKOUT, Phoenix’s only nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering queer communities. If this is your first read, welcome! As a reminder, this THURSDAY, JAN. 26, we’re hosting a meet-and-greet with the founders and board members of LOOKOUT at The New Times building at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to RSVP via the link below, so you can tell us what YOU want from your local queer news site.
A GAY COUPLE PUT UP A PRIDE FLAG.
NOW THEY FEAR THEIR SAFETY.
When Jared and Tim Deluca moved into their Queen Creek home in 2020, they expected the same kind of welcome they got after they left downtown Phoenix for their home in Chandler:
“We thought we were going to be run out with pitchforks,” said Jared Deluca, who explained that he and his husband were surprised to—instead—get consistent affirmation of their relationship from neighbors, business owners and even strangers.
But when Jared’s mother had to go into retirement, the couple needed to find a home out of Chandler that could accommodate all of them.
Neighboring Queen Creek was affordable, and with a new population surge from California and Colorado, how different could a culture be 10 miles away?
Turns out, quite a bit.
A week after they put up a pride flag in December last year—a seemingly innocuous gesture—someone drove by and screamed at them “fag,” twice. A few nights later, the flag was torn in half. They replaced it, but only to find it the next day ripped off the pole and thrown in the street.
Then, a neighbor edged his car up onto their property and threatened them, screaming obscenities. Jared saw the car and feared for his family’s life. When he went to grab his gun for protection, the neighbor drove off.
Later on, the same neighbor posted on the community Facebook page asking if it was OK if he flew a nazi flag over his house. The post was immediately taken down.
(Facebook messenger screenshots shared with LOOKOUT showed that the neighbor later apologized, but dismissed it as a drunken misunderstanding.)
But it grabbed enough notice that the Deluca’s homeowners’ association sent a letter saying they needed to remove their flag.
All of this is against the backdrop of the state’s ongoing and pervasive culture wars stoked by Republicans on the far-right who have rallied against the LGBTQ+ community in the statehouse.
This past weekend, the queer community and their allies marched on the state Capitol to protest against Sens. Anthony Kern and John Kavanagh’s bills to restrict drag shows and decimate trans rights in schools and public places.
Kavanagh has gone a step further, though, in bringing that culture war to corresponding problems, such as flags in front of homes; The same homes as the ones owned by the Delucas.
In his bill SB1034, Kavanagh offered legislation that would strike down the current law that forbids homeowners’ associations from banning specific flags—such as the Gadsden, Arizona Indian Nations, or U.S. flag—to an extension for all flags, unless they are “obscene, defamatory or likely to incite violence.”
Essentially, the bill would make it easier to put up any flag a homeowner would like, while also making it harder for homeowners in areas where there might be cultural or political disagreement.
That could prove to be tricky in places like Queen Creek, for example, where religious conservative ties run deep. Queer groups recognize that Kavanagh’s bill, as written, could cause a messy legal battle between homeowners’ association’s religious beliefs versus individual rights to free speech—a battle that many religious conservatives would be more than likely to support.
This is all new terrain for the Delucas, who had never been involved in politics before last year. In fact, they were—by suburban standards—the perfect gay neighbors: They never fussed, or threw audacious parties—they just wanted a small town life.
But when the two tried to build out their real estate business to focus on their local Queen Creek community by deciding to join a local church group, the lead pastor told Jared Deluca that he couldn’t lead sessions because he was married to another man.
People refused to list homes with them because they were gay, they found out.
“It became so apparent in so many small ways,” said Tim Deluca. “It was going to the auto shop, hearing that it’s going to cost $100 dollars to get something fixed, saying you have to call your husband, and getting ‘the look.’”
He mentioned the two are afraid of even holding hands in public.
The biased treatment came to a head in December last year when the couple went to visit Jared’s family in Columbus, Ohio. Seeing pride flags hung from people who weren’t even queer, the two said, made them both realize they lived in an area where they were not only hidden, but they also didn’t feel wanted.
For the entire month of January, LOOKOUT is offering all of its coverage free of charge. If you’re enjoying our news, consider a subscription.
That needed to change, they said, which is what pushed them—though warily—to fly a modest pride flag.
But as they had hoped wouldn’t happen, they soon faced a small—but loud and threatening—group of hard-lined religious conservatives who wanted them silenced and gone.
And just as they wanted to find a home, now they are looking to find a place to feel safe: “Everyone keeps asking the same thing,” said Jared. “Are we going to stick around? Or do you feel differently with all the support? And I'm like, the support is wonderful. But unfortunately, I think the damage for me has already been done. And it just feels like Queen Creek has been ruined.
“Even though we have a bunch of people trying to convince us otherwise, I think if we had the opportunity tomorrow to make a fast, clean, easy exit from Queen Creek today, we would,” said Jared.
Just this past Monday night, after speaking to this reporter on planning to meet and discuss their experiences, a copy of the New Testament was thrown at them in their yard.
Thursday, Jan. 26, we want to meet you. LOOKOUT is hosting its first ever listening session at the New Times building on 12th St and Jefferson in downtown Phoenix. Get your FREE ticket to the event below.