What the mom behind the viral rainbow Christmas lights wants people to know.

Here's hoping we see many more supportive holiday displays.

Lexi Magnussen left the Mormon Church in 2012 because she disagreed with its views on homosexuality.

Then, a few months ago, her new neighbors moved in.

Shortly after, the mom of the neighboring family came over to introduce herself to Lexi and her husband, who were standing on their front lawn.


Lexi and her family. Photo via Lexi Magnussen, used with permission.

The woman, like Lexi and her husband, happened to be Mormon, which Lexi says is why she thinks the woman reached out, hoping they'd have something in common.

Their conversation started out pleasant enough, but then took a rather uncomfortable — and homophobic — turn.

"Basically she told us she moved here to get her children away from the gays," Lexi recalls in a private Facebook message. According to Lexi, the last straw for her neighbor was when a girl rejected her son asking her to the prom because the girl already had a girlfriend. She just couldn't understand a school that promoted "the gay agenda," her neighbor told her.

Lexi says she tried to keep her cool and reminded her neighbor that their kids were going to be exposed to LGBTQ people no matter where they went, and she was glad for it.

Photo by Lexi Magnussen. Used with permission.

"[Kids] know not to be horrible to each other based on who they are or how they were born," Lexi explains.

Needless to say, the conversation ended quickly, and from that day on, Lexi says her new neighbor acted like her family didn't exist.

The painful situation hung in Lexi's mind for months, until the presidential election results came in. With Christmas coming up, Lexi decided to act.

Like many people nationwide, she was devastated by the election, not only because she didn't like the outcome but because of the onslaught of hate crimes targeting marginalized groups that followed. With her conversation with her neighbor in mind, Lexi knew she wanted to do something to publicly show her support for the LGBTQ community.

So she grabbed 10,000 rainbow lights and got to work on her front yard:

Photo by Lexi Magnussen. Used with permission.

"I love Christmas lights [and] realized my front hedges would be the perfect place for a rainbow flag of lights," Lexi explains of the decorations.

Lexi's neighbor has yet to comment on her vivid display, she says, but the rest of her neighbors love it, as do the 14,000 other people who've liked her post on Facebook. Despite the initial disappointing exchange with her neighbor, however, Lexi says she's open to furthering the conversation between them.

It doesn't take a monumental action to make a big difference, especially to the people you see every day — your neighbors.

The Magnussens' bright response to hate is just one of many people have carried out in recent months. One artist in Arkansas covered up hateful graffiti with a loving message and has made it her mission to keep doing it. A group of Michigan neighbors decked out all their houses with rainbow flags in response to a bigoted letter one neighbor received.

The messages these displays send aren't so much a rebuke to people — like Lexi's neighbor — who don't believe in them as much as they are an affirmation to those who are targeted by hate speech and hate crimes. I see you, I love you, I am here for you, these artistic displays of solidarity say to those who need to hear them.

Making a difference and rejecting bigotry can start with a kind word and the willingness to listen to the problems people in your community are facing. If we can protect each other on a local level, that's a huge step in the right direction.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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