UPDATE: the "Relentlessly Gay" online fundraiser has so far surpassed $43,000 in donations. Read the latest here.
Julie Baker woke up one morning earlier this week, surprised to find a note rolled up and stuck in the handle of her front door of her home in Overlea, Md.
The note read:
"Dear Resident... Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a Christian area and there are Children. Keep it up and I will be Forced to call the Police on You! Your kind need to have respect for GOD. A Concerned Home Owner."
The note referred to a set of rainbow-colored jar solar lamps Baker had strung up in her yard. The lights spell out "Love" and "Ohana," the Hawaiian word for family. She told Baltimore's City Paper they were not particularly meant to be a statement about LGBT rights -- but she's perfectly content if they leave that impression on people.
"The point of the rainbows isn't about being gay," she explained to the newspaper. "It's because we love rainbows. I have a rainbow tattoo on my arm. We're going to decorate the white siding of our house with them."
Baker, a 47-year-old widow and single mother of four children, says she identifies as bisexual, but isn't exactly sure what "relentlessly gay" means. Still, she's taken a shine to the memorable phrase, naming her GoFundMe page after it. She set up the fundraiser and went public at the urging of her 17-year-old daughter, in hopes she could collect enough money to paint one side of her house in rainbows.
"I am starting this fundraiser so I can work to make my Home even More 'relentlessly gay,'" she said on the page. "If we go high enough, I will see if I can get a Rainbow Roof! Because my invisible relentlessly gay rainbow dragon should live up there in style!" She added that she wants to show her children to not "relent to hatred," but to battle it with "whimsy and beauty and laughter and love."
Despite the humor of the moment, Baker shared with City Paper that she's been subject to more violent anonymous harassment in the 20 years she's lived in her Overlea home, particularly after she and her late husband declined an invitation to attend services at a Presbyterian church across the street. She received another threatening note several years ago, after she and her daughters lit candles and incense in their yard as "offerings to the universe."
"The next morning we found our potbellied stove kicked over and a note that said 'your kind are not wanted here,'" Baker recalled. "It also mentioned devil-worshiping and ended with a reminder that houses burn for no apparent reason. I didn't sleep much after that note."
Baker says she did contact police following that threat but was told no crime had been committed.
In the single day since Baker went public with her story, she's been able to raise far more money than the $5,000 goal she originally set -- she's so far gathered over $15,000 from more than 1,000 donors, and been flooded with hundreds of messages of support.