The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

An anonymous letter called her yard ‘relentlessly gay.’ She raised $28,000 to be even more relentless.

Placeholder while article actions load

The anonymous letter-writer made it abundantly clear what he or she thought of Julie Baker’s yard decorations. The letter writer probably didn’t expect to launch a wildly successful fundraising campaign that would let Baker vastly magnify her rainbow decor.

Baker had heard some of this vitriol before, since she hung two rows of tea lights near her porch in rainbow-colored jars that she bought from A.C. Moore for a dollar apiece. When she first hung up the jars, she didn’t think of them as having anything to do with LGBT issues. They were just pretty — and as a professional artist, she has made rainbows a major theme of her work. “Anyone who’s known me for more than 10 seconds knows that I love rainbows,” she said.

But the letter writers must not know Baker. “Somebody threatened to burn down the house before. They’ve used words like ‘your kind,’ ‘people like you,'” said the mother of four.

The writers called Baker’s Baltimore yard, inspired by God’s sign of his pact with Noah after the flood, un-Christian. They called her yard, glowing with bright colors, unsuitable for children.

Then this letter arrived. It called Baker’s yard something different: “relentlessly gay.”

Suddenly, Baker knew she had a slogan.

“They call me relentlessly gay? Damn right, I’m going to be relentless. I’m going to be relentlessly joyful, because life’s too short for anything else,” she said in an interview with the Post. “Relentlessly compassionate. Relentlessly amazing.”

At the suggestion of her 17-year-old daughter, Baker created a fundraising page under the title “Relentlessly Gay.” She set a goal of $5,000 — enough, she thought, to put up lots more rainbow-themed decorations, and even paint her roof in rainbow stripes.

In just over 48 hours, the “Relentlessly Gay” page has raised more than five times Baker’s goal, with contributions pouring in from supporters all over the world.

So just how is Baker going to spend more than $28,000 on lawn decorations?

“All the parts of my house are going to be rainbow-fied,” she said. “Have you ever met a person in your entire life that has seen a rainbow and not stopped and smiled? That’s going to be my house.”

She also might find a way to contribute some of the money to anti-bullying programs for school kids, she said.

Even before the painters arrive — Baker’s 30-year-old son spent Thursday researching house painting services and reminding his mother to take a break from the hubbub to eat something — Baker’s yard has become a place for people to stop by to express their enthusiasm for her project.

“I’ve gotten so many hugs today,” she said. “Holy crap, I love hugs.”

As for the letter-writer? Baker says she’s not too concerned about who it was. “I could care less if this person decides to be grumpy in whatever cave of dullness they live in,” she said. “They can go under their rock and do whatever mean people do under their grumpy little rock.”

“The Internet and all of these glorious people are taking this thing that some guy wanted to be an insult, and turning it into this battle cry,” she said. “You just made the world explode in happy. I love that. I love that.”