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Phoenix, ARIZONA – Phoenix residents Sarah, 33, and her daughter Kayley, 15, had been eagerly looking forward to the One Direction’s show in their city on September 16th.  They were taking part in Rainbow Direction, a project that supports and raises visibility for LGBTQIA members of the One Direction community during 1D’s Where We Are tour. Having spent much time crafting a hundred and seventy rainbow gadgets to hand out, they were in for a nasty surprise. Upon arrival at University of Phoenix Stadium, security staff forced them to throw all the gadgets in the bin, claiming they were “offensive”. During the show other security guards told Kayley to put her rainbow sign down and take off her rainbow necklace.

“No, we can’t have that. It’s offensive”


Sarah and Kayley brought a bag full of glowsticks and rainbow beads with LGBT supportive cards attached to them. Sarah: “When we got to the bag check a lady said “Nope, we can’t take it in, we can’t have that”. I asked “Why?” and my daughter said “Do you think it is going to explode into one giant rainbow and everyone will be gay?” They called in a man in beige, I thought he was a sheriff, who looked at the cards and said “No they can’t take that in. It’s offensive”.  I laughed out of shock.Choice was throw it out or don’t go in. I was in tears walking towards the gate. I was so angry.”


Kayley did manage to smuggle in the rainbow necklace she was wearing, as well as an LGBTQIA supportive sign. Sarah: “A man next to us offered to hold it high so the 1D boys could see it. Security asked that we put it down but we ignored them. Near the end my daughter ran to the catwalk with the sign. A security guard asked her to take her necklace off and she said “OK, fine” but threw it on the catwalk, where Harry and Niall saw it.”


Kayley’s rainbow sign and necklace

“The concert itself was wonderful. Liam and Louis acknowledged the sign in a positive way. Many people asked us about the necklace and we got positive feedback about Rainbow Direction. The people were supportive. It was the staff who acted completely awful”

“Harry gave my son thumbs up and a fist shake”

Alisa and her son Brady also participated and confirm the positive reactions from 1D and their public. They travelled in from Utah, bringing rainbow flags and sporting rainbow outfits. Alisa: “We arrived at the venue and right away my shirt was acknowledged by the girls behind us, also in rainbow and ‘Love is equal’ garb. One of the first times Harry came over to our side of the stage he pointed at my son, gave him thumbs up and then a fist shake. Louis was next, waving to Brady and the girls as they had the flag up. I believe Niall also gave them a smile and head nod. ”

“Stop waving that gay sign around”

Though they encountered some homophobia, this group had a much better experience with security.  “A not very nice man in the audience placed his hands on Brady and said in a very homophobic way to stop waving that gay sign around. Luckily someone heard the altercation and notified security and they moved the kids up to some empty seats even closer to the stage.”


L-R: Alex, Kayleigh, Meagan, Shandra, Lindsay, Maddie, Brady, Grace and Alisa at the Phoenix show

An emotional night

Both Sarah and Alisa were glad they participated in Rainbow Direction with their children, reporting a mix of emotions at the end of the day, particularly when they ran into each other and exchanged stories.

Alisa: “We met two ladies who saw my shirt and shouted Rainbow Direction and we hugged. It seems they had much of their items taken by security upon arrival. After the concert, as we waved our flags so folks could find us, so many people stopped to thank us and say how awesome it was”

Sarah: “After the concert I ran into other Rainbow Direction participants who had a wonderful experience and I probably startled Alisa with a hug. I was just so happy to see we could be represented properly. It was an emotional night.”

Rainbows are not offensive, homophobia is.

Rainbow Direction is a fan initiative that encourages 1D fans to dress up in rainbows, make banners and craft rainbow gear to raise visibility and show support for the LGBTQIA members in their community during the Where We Are Tour. Earlier today, the Rainbow Direction team issued the following statement about the incident:

“We are appalled at the way Sarah and her daughter Kayley were treated by venue security at University of Phoenix Stadium. Instead of harassing them and confiscating their gear, all security guards should have treated Sarah and Kayley the way Brady and his friends were treated: with respect and concern for their safety. We urge University of Phoenix Stadium to educate all of their staff to understand that rainbows are not offensive, but homophobia is.”


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