Responding to Vandalized Rainbow Benches, UCC Launches #onthebench Selfie Contest!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

This morning, Christopher Cornell of the United Church of Christ at the head of Central Square in Downtown Keene announced a really cool selfie contest in response to  continued vandalization of their rainbow benches in Elsie Priest Park, just behind the UCC on Church St.

At least one unknown vandal in her sixties has been caught in the act of painting the rainbow bench in red.  She ran to her red compact car and took off.  The bench was subsequently painted rainbow by more volunteers, then attacked by the vandal(s) again, and so on.  The church has plenty of paint and volunteers.  Love will win over hate.

UCC administrator Mark C. Harris explained in a post to the church blog that the benches were painted rainbow this summer by volunteers and that they represent that, “We want everyone to feel welcome to use the park. This is in good keeping with our belief that all of God’s children are beloved, no matter who they are, or where they are on life’s journey. All are welcome, no matter their gender, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, difference in abilities, religion or absence thereof.”

Renee Kate and Jazzy on the Rainbow Bench!

Renee Kate and Jazzy Showing Love > Hate

Today the benches are rainbow and people who side with love have been invited by the UCC to visit them and take a selfie, and post it on social media tagged with #onthebench.  there are prizes, and the contest for the best selfie ends Saturday September 5th, at 10pm, which coincides with the end of the Keene Music Festival.

Speculation abounds as to the motivation of the vandal(s) – it’s easy to jump to a conclusion and say it’s someone with an anti-gay sentiment, but longtime readers of this blog will also recall the controversy back in 2009 when local entrepreneur Dorrie O’Meara launched her Mexican restaurant Pedraza’s.  Some people around town were upset because O’Meara painted her building yellow!  Certain grumpy people in this area seem to hate colors besides brick red and gray.

Ian Freeman and Jazzy at the Rainbow Bench

Take this, vandals!

Cornell said in an interview for Free Keene that he thinks the first time the the vandal(s) struck, the benches were fully painted red, but that since then the vandal(s) have only painted over the yellow part.  He’s losing track of the amount of times the benches have been vandalized, but thinks it may have been at least six times, all since the beginning of August.

Smart move on the UCC’s part to make this into a hopefully-viral phenomenon.  The vandals, whatever the hate they carry in their hearts, probably weren’t expecting these benches to turn into a movement!

The Shire Free Church is joining in solidarity with the UCC and all those who support love over hate, so I went out with Renee Kate and Jazzy the Studio Dog for a photo shoot this afternoon.  Remember to tag your bench selfies with #onthebench on your social media posts.

Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on this controversy. Last year it was chalk causing controversy, this year it’s rainbows!

Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

Don't miss a single post!


  1. Wonder if these vandals are related to the flag thrives. … Seems like the same caliber of people.

  2. Its nice that that the UCC is so welcoming but yet a retired UCC minister in Concord is very anti-Israel and the most unforgiving person I’ve heard rant in quite some time. Paint those rainbows…

  3. The last I heard the KPD was looking at some of the freekeeners as possible suspects. Since freekeeners like to chalk everything, going on a painting rampage wouldn’t be too far behind.

  4. Jumping Jacks  (runningwolfkenpo)

    Mark, you don’t seem like a very busy or serious businessman if you’re trolling Freekeene< Ridley Report, Youtube and Copblock under different screen names every day.

  5. Jumping Jacks  (runningwolfkenpo)

    Do you bill your clients and or insurance companies for all the time you spend goofing off on the computer?

  6. RetiredEngineer4322 Jumping Jacks runningwolfkempo? I am on this site maybe twice in a day and that is a big maybe. You seem to be on it all the time.

  7. RetiredEngineer4322 Jumping Jacks Mark? You seem to be another sorry existence of protoplasm. It always amazes me how activists such as yourself play these delusional games to satisfy your ego. Like freekeeners, you have a sickness called Capgras Delusion. You believe people are being replaced by those who don’t follow your BS.  Obviously you don’t have a job and there for take it out on anyone or anything. You are a freekeene shill.  keep up the good work.

  8. RetiredEngineer4322 Jumping Jacks I believe your intel is extremely flawed.  The facebook post means what?

  9. “Wonder if these vandals are related to the flag thieves” it’s not all about free Keene. Your trying to put two and two together, is a big stretch, its not all about “you guys “. Can you say neurotic! Notice that the flag has been just fine from vandals since the college kids have been away. Hmmmmm?

  10. BSIZZLE I still believe it was someone or a couple from freekeene that did it.


  1. Responding to Vandalized Rainbow Benches, UCC Launches #onthebench Selfie Contest! - Freedom's Floodgates - […] By Ian […]
  2. NH1 Covers Keene Rainbow Bench Controversy - Freedom's Floodgates - […] response to the vandal(s) attacking their rainbow benches has been stellar – they’ve created a selfie challenge! You are…
  3. NH1 Covers Keene Rainbow Bench Controversy | Free Keene - […] response to the vandal(s) attacking their rainbow benches has been stellar – they’ve created a selfie challenge! You are…
  4. Dear Jazzy Girl, My Best Friend and Companion | Free Keene - […] year to accept CopBlock know-your-rights flyers. You participated in and helped bring attention the United Church of Christ’s rainbow…

Care to comment?