Nov 21, 2010 2:31 AM GMT
Dozens of Islanders show their support for Little Pond fire victims
Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Wesley Hamilton and Leah Quimby hug and kiss during a hug in at Province House in Charlottetown Saturday night.
Published on November 20th, 2010
by Andrew Chisholm
Dozens gathered outside Province House on a chilly Saturday evening to send a warm message of love and support to the gay couple whose house was firebombed on Oct. 18.
A few people arrived to the Hug and Kiss-in early to take part in a friendly snowball fight, but by 5 p.m. about 60 people had gathered near Charlottetown’s well-known symbol of peace - the cenotaph.
“We should be aware that homophobia exists and be ready to stand against it,” said event organizer Brad Deighan.
The group shared hugs and kisses, played a few games and sang the lyrics to All We Need Is Love - a fitting Beatles song given all the love that was on hand.
The event was organized to show support for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community.
“We thought it was really important to come out and show our support,” said Deighan. “Specifically, (for) the couple who had their house burnt down.”
The incident, which sparked strong public criticism against the attack, has been labeled a hate crime by many, including minister Rev. Beth Johnston.
The Little Pond couple were in bed sleeping when their house was attacked. One of the men had to drag his partner out of their burning home when they woke up to flames and smoke.
There was a general calling within the community to show support for the couple, said Emily Rutledge, who helped Deighan organize the event.
“We don’t know who they are, but it would be really nice to show them people really care,” she said. “I thought it was really important to bring awareness to the homophobia that does exist here.”
Both organizers said they were happy with the turnout and said the Hug and Kiss-in could turn into an annual event.
“We were able to play games and have fun and I think everyone had a really good time,” said Deighan.
Wesley Hamilton and his girlfriend, Leah Quimby, recently moved to the Island and said they felt the need to show their support.
Pure disgust was their first emotion after hearing news of the attack against the Little Pond couple.
“Why would someone do that? It just doesn’t even register in my mind how you can be so hateful towards people for loving each other,” said Quimby.
They hope the event will help send a positive message against something to negative.
“We support the cause and we like to kiss. It seemed like the perfect event for us,” said Hamilton.
By coincidence, the event fell on Transgender Day of Remembrance - a day set aside in the late 1990s to memorialize victims of anti-transgender prejudice.