At first, they didn’t notice that their rainbow flag was missing. The couple often goes in and out of their house from the side door, so even when they realized the flag was gone, it was still another day before they discovered the entire front of their house was covered with pelted eggs.

Cari and Lauri Ryding could not believe they had been targets of such vandalism in their peaceful and always welcoming neighborhood in greater Boston.

“When we saw the egging, we knew the intention and the message of what happened, and that was more upsetting to see the combination of the two things,” Cari Ryding said. “Someone really intended to send a message to the two of us. That was really hard to swallow and sent us both reeling.”

But then their Natick, Mass., neighbors did something beautiful: They turned a hateful act into love. It began with their closest friends, but soon evolved, and by Tuesday, nearly every one of the 60 homes in their neighborhood had hung a rainbow flag outside.

“You drive into our neighborhood, and all you see is the rainbow,” Cari, 49, said. “It still makes us cry when we drive into the neighborhood.”

The couple, gay and married four years ago, returned from a vacation last Wednesday and did not realize the flag was gone until Friday. On Saturday, they saw the egg stains, fried in the summer heat. They posted on their neighborhood Facebook page to alert their neighbors to the vandalism, and to see whether anyone knew anything about the crime.

It didn’t take long before neighbors asked how they could get flags of their own.

Dennis Gaughan, whose wife, Maura, helped organize the flag distribution, told the Boston Globe that their thinking was: “Why don’t we all have the flags? They can’t take them from all of us.”

The Rydings suggested that they get them from the Rainbow Peace Flag Project, which is where they got theirs after the June massacre at a gay night club in Orlando. Neighborhood kids were tasked with distributing the flags to homes who asked for them.

The Rydings filed a police report, calling it an act of vandalism and not a hate crime. Lauri Ryding, who is 52, said she has been subject to derogatory comments about her and her friends throughout her life, but she wants to believe the world has changed.

“We don’t live in that world like 20 or 30 years ago,” she said. “I want to be positive and think it was just a random act and not some targeted attack, but the story is not us or the attack. It’s these people who surround us on a daily basis, who banded together to support their neighbors. Love conquers hate. It is what we all strive for. It’s a teaching moment. It’s a wonderful display of solidarity and unity and caring, of neighbors helping neighbors. There’s so much love around us.”

And where they might have feared for their safety, they said they can sleep well at night knowing they are surrounded by love.

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