Dad Hangs Pleasure Flag To Assist Son In Viral TikTok
Courtesy John Wyatt
Caden Wyatt with his father John and mother Janell
On Sunday, a little over a year since he first appeared, Caden Wyatt, 15, told most of the people he has ever had that he was gay – and he did it with his father by his side.
For the first time in their lives, and probably the first time in their neighborhood, the Wyatts hung a flag outside their home to mark Pride Month.
“We’re about to shock Oklahoma,” announced John Wyatt, 45, to both her neighbors and over a million TikTok users, while Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” played in the background.
A TikTok John posted about the family’s big milestone has gone viral massively in the four days since it was released and has garnered tons of support, praise, and heartfelt comments.
“I’m really happy to have such supportive parents because I know a lot of other people are not as lucky as I am,” Caden told BuzzFeed News.
The Wyatts live in Owasso, just outside Tulsa, a heavily conservative community. “Our neighborhood has a lot of Q flags, a lot of Trump flags and Blue Lives Matter flags. [but] You don’t see any pride flags at all, ”said John.
Granted, John wasn’t always that supportive of the LGBTQ community – he was very conservative and religious for most of his life. But that changed when he and his wife suspected that Caden, who was a young child at the time, could possibly be gay. “That’s when we really started hugging [the community]because we knew our son was gay and he could come out anytime, ”said John. “And he had to see that we can support him and be there for him.”
The flag the family has hung in front of their home is the “Confederate Flag,” with a rainbow letter A on a background of black and white stripes, which Caden and his mother bought last spring at their city’s first Pride festival. Caden has a classic pride flag hanging in his room, but he hopes the ally flag will serve as a symbol that his entire family is helping the LGBTQ community. “I want people to know that my parents are behind them, and so do I,” said Caden.
The allied flag has sparked some debates among TikTok commentators, some of which have criticized the idea of putting straight and cisgender people at the center. As John explained in a TikTok follow-up, “the black and white bars represent the straight and cisgender community, the allies … and of course the rainbow colors in the ‘A’ represent the LGBTQ + community.” John said he researched the flag to make sure it wasn’t promoting something he shouldn’t, but that he got even more comments from people saying they loved the flag the family chose. “[Caden] is the one who told us to buy this flag to support him … but I’m not about to do a little more research, “he said on another TikTok.
Despite the online support, the flag has so far received no noticeable reaction from the Wyatt’s neighbors – a pleasant surprise as they feared it might be stolen or destroyed.
“We let people know it’s a safe place,” said John. “I’m not trying to cause controversy in the neighborhood, but maybe there is someone out there who sees that flag and smiles and feels safe.”
Nancy McDonald, a former PFLAG national president and founder of the Tulsa chapter, told BuzzFeed News that hanging a flag can be a meaningful way for parents to show their support for their LGBTQ children, be it an ally flag or the more typical pride flag.
“If you need a symbol, a flag like this, that’s fine,” said McDonald. “I choose the rainbow flag because it tells people, yes, this is a family that supports their gay child.”
Many people have commented on the family’s TikTok saying that they would like their own parents to accept their sexuality or gender.
John said he hoped his family’s flag would remind others that they are not alone.
“Every time I get a comment like this, I tell them I have them,” he said. “If you need someone to talk to, I’ll be here. And when you need a ‘papa hug’, I’m here. If they are from the area and have to come over for dinner, whatever – our home is open to them. “
It wasn’t easy for Caden to be so brave, but he’s thrilled that he made it.
“At first I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how people would act, but I just don’t care what they think anymore,” he said. “I’ll just be myself.”