ISLANDERS REACT TO HOMOPHOBIA ON PEI

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    Nov 21, 2010 2:31 AM GMT
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    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.



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    Nov 22, 2010 5:45 PM GMT
    32 reader comments were posted to the above story. One denounced homosexuality Another questioned the cenotaph as an appropriate place for a "gay orgy", and a third said t "grampaw didn't fight so society could go to hell allowing this."

    The rest were supportive of the event, and denouncing the first two posts in varying degress of outrage. . Many were long outraged responses at the the first critical single post, while others suggested those against did not reflect the vast majority of Islanders.



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    Nov 22, 2010 5:48 PM GMT
    UpperCanadian said32 reader comments were posted to the above story. One denounced homosexuality Another questioned the cenotaph as an appropriate place for a "gay orgy", and a third said t "grampaw didn't fight so society could go to hell allowing this."

    The rest were supportive of the event, and denouncing the first two posts in varying degress of outrage. . Many were long outraged responses at the the first critical single post, while others suggested those against did not reflect the vast majority of Islanders.


    Sounds like the comments one would typically hear when idiots are given the free will to comment as they please. icon_rolleyes.gif

    You know what? I denounce adultery and sham marriages, as well as people of one faith marrying someone of another faith as well as marriages where people truly love one another. icon_lol.gif
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    Nov 22, 2010 7:07 PM GMT
    UPDATE: November 22, 2010

    DOZENS FILL COMMUNITY HALL, RAISE $1650 FOR VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE.


    It can be quite an adventure driving to Little Pond, PEI, after dark, in the first snowfall of the season. My partner and I went with different drivers to the benefit for Victims of Violence. Neither driver really knew the way, but signs are good and it is not hard to find places on an island this size.

    Still this tiny island has vast tracts of farmland with highways flanked by towering trees so one feels oddly vulnerable with no lights within sight.

    Both drivers got lost around a poorly signed detour (to avoid a bridge that is closed completely). Both stopped to ask directions twice. One followed a person to their home, thinking she was following us. (Dan was in her car) I had the baked goods in the car with our friend Tom driving.

    The other car got there well ahead of us.

    Little Pond is about 75 minutes northeast of Charlottetown ( the duration of the trip back, when we knew where we were going.) There are rolling hills, vales - it is postcard-like . I could can see how this BC couple chose to live there. It really represents PEI right out of the storybooks.

    I counted 38 cars parked outside the hall, and about 65 people inside. There were platters of sandwiches, coffee, and bake sale tables with some cupcakes, and a couple of kinds of fudge, and they were selling 50/50 tickets.

    Dan has spent the day before making thatreally dark chocolate in contrast to the others. He wrapped large pieces individually. It looked very professional, and he made peanut butter cookies. He makes both those things a lot and has mastered his recipe, technique and timing with this particular oven and our particular cookie sheets. People who have his fudge act quite silly about it. (It is WAY too sweet for me. I can only manage one bite. but it melts in your mouth.

    Anything that wasn't not sold was frozen to sell at another fair. I moppped the floor to help out the clean up and Dan helped stack the chairs.

    A couple of local guys sang, played guitar and fiddle . One was a truly delightful humorous song about a goat kid who wants to grow up to be a "bodhran" (pronounced "bow-ron" - which the traditional celtic hand drum played with both ends of a single stick, made of a goat kid skin stretched over a hoop. It was very funny and delightful to hear.

    A reporter from Halifax Xtra was there, a young guy from charlottetown, and another guy from charlottetown who is a friend of the couple, Bill & Lou, making seven of us who drove in for the benefit. Dan and I had overdressed, and we felt conscipuous as hell (nudge nudge, look at the strangers - but not too obviously.) LOL

    A letter was read from the victims, thanking the town, because they could not be there themselves for it.

    It was anounced the evening raised $1,650 for them, not including "the envelopes" (of cheques, and donations).

    We surmised, as we were discussing it on the drive home) that the house itself and the possessions are probably insured; the money is more a gesture of community support.

    Dan and I leaned against the wall, tapping our feet and clapping to the music. I was impressed that so many in this small community put so much apparent effort into coming out on a Sunday night to hear neighbours play favourite tunes that they all heard many times before. The letter from the victims was gracious and moving, particularly when it came to thanking the emergency responders.

    I thought of those emergency responders as we drove home through the immense blackness. and remarked "this must be what it likes to be a black dot on white when there is a hawk circling overhead. It struck me that whoever threw that firebomb through Bill & Lou's window somewhere within this driving range of their victim. That person might have been at that benefit last night, taking perverse secret pride in all this attention to his efforts.
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    Nov 22, 2010 7:33 PM GMT
    LGBT COMMUNITY GATHERS TO TALK SAFETY


    Abegweit Rainbow Collective (ARCPEI), an LGBT organization, has organized a townhall meeting at St. Paul's church hall, on Monday, November 22, from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. AT, in Charlottetown, PE to allow to local the gay community to respond to recent events and share their own experience and perception of homophobia on PEI.

    Representatives from ARCPEI, PFLAG, AIDSPEI and the PEI Human Rights Commission will be present to hear the thoughts of gay Islanders, get a feel for how safe LGBT Islanders feel, areas of concern for LGBT, and ideas to promote further acceptance.

    Despite requests, it was decided by the organizers not to allow the media in, as it seems counterproductive to ask people how secure they feel while sticking a camera in their face. There are many here still who are out to friends, but not at work or to family, and would not want to be been on the news.
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    Nov 23, 2010 3:20 PM GMT
    Suspected gay hate crime prompts meeting

    Last Updated: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | 10:36 AM

    CBC News :

    Charlottetown's gay community met Monday night to discuss ways to make P.E.I. a safer place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

    The fire was shocking and saddening, said Maureen Hanley.

    About 50 people met at St. Paul's parish hall. They said they're angry, but not surprised by an October fire in Little Pond, at the eastern end of the Island, that left two gay men homeless.

    "The fire in Little Pond was extremely shocking and saddening to me," said Maureen Hanley, who lives in nearby Dingwells Mills, and knows the two men whose home was burned.

    Hanley says she and her neighbours are troubled somebody apparently set the house on fire because the men are gay.

    "As a member of my community, I treat everyone with love and without prejudice," she said.

    Also at the meeting were members of AIDS PEI, representatives of the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission, and parents of gay children.

    Police haven't arrested anybody in connection with the Oct. 18 fire. The two men, aged 47 and 55, have not spoken publicly. Neighbours and local church leaders have said the men were targeted because they're gay.

    "If we know the incident happened and turn a blind eye on it, which is what PEI usually does, it's not going to help because no one's actually doing anything about it," said gay rights activist Chris Gallant.

    "That's why we're here, is to actually do something about it: make sure the community feels safe."

    The meeting, like others this week in Summerside and Little Pond, was an attempt by the gay community to fight back, rally support and get at the root of the problem.

    People at the meeting agreed they need help from edcuators, police, politicians and parents to try to end gay bashing.


    Story comments (1)

    sky blue wrote:
    Posted 2010/11/23

    at 8:57 AM ETI'm sorry to hear about this attack. It would be nice if the community could come together and assist these 2 men in building a new home. I hope the police are able to catch the hater(s) that committed this crime.

    Be strong fellas!


    Read more
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2010/11/23/pei-gay-hate-crime-meeting-584.html#ixzz167RXdtjI
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    Nov 24, 2010 2:52 AM GMT
    Thanks UC! That was a pleasure to read.

    -Doug
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    Nov 24, 2010 3:10 AM GMT
    I called my local councillor today, to say I was surprised and disappointed not to have seen him there. (in fact no politicians or members of the police dept saw fit to attend.)

    We had a 5 minute amiable conversation but he never did say he regretted not being there, rather he said he did not think homophobia was a very big problem here. I said that was actually what the meeting was to find out, and had he been there he might have been quite shocked to hear what people do experience daily here. (as was I)

    There is a huge urban vs. rural divide in the perception of how accepting and safe PEI is for LGBT.


    It also became apparent (and I have relayed this to the organizers) that although the councillor had seen the announcement of the meeting, without someone assertively following up on these things, it is too easy for our issues to get buried under others. This message was reinforced by a failure to take advantage of the media presence last night to promote another upcoming event.

    At my urging, somone did the promo (despite insisting it would not be aired.) I told them i would take it as a personal failure if I could not get an on-air promo for it, so I got on the phone today to the reporter. He had interviewed me a few times before at my home, in relation to speeches I had been giving on stroke, lobbying for an Acute Stroke Care Unit to be established here. S o he recognized me at the meetingm and we talked a long time (about unrelated matters).

    The CBC receptionist said he was preparing for broadcast but he took the phone when he heard it was me - knowing it would be relevant to that story.
    (yay!) I told him we really needed that promo that I had taken responsibility to harangue him until I got it, so he aired it tonight. He also checked and found out no public service announcement had been received about it!

    After careful consideration then, I have offered to take on media relations for the LGBT community, and put my years of media whoring to use for the LGBT community here

    I wrote a PSA and sent it off to the TV station all the radio stations, stat.

    No time to get permission even - or we would not meet their deadlines. I am certain I will have ruffled some feathers, but maybe it will reinforce my point that PR is a job unto itself.

    I hope they take me up on my offer. I think it will make for more effective media relations, and free up the Executive Director for his other duties (which are all-encompassing) I suggested he and the Program Coordinator have quite enough to do without thaving to do PR too. (and they both have expressed a dislike of being on camera and dealing with the media.)

    I noticed they do not really know how to write a press release, the format for PSAs - or how to make a story attractive.)

    In my past career I was lauded and derided in equal measure as a consummate "media whore" (depending who was speaking.)

    I have sent a letter to the respective boards, volunteering my services, and attaching samples of my work.

    I can now only hope they accept my offer.
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    Nov 24, 2010 3:13 AM GMT
    Gay orgy? Come on! The opening picture is of a man and women kissing. Idiot.

    Glad they're all okay though.
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    Nov 24, 2010 3:22 AM GMT
    Very hopeful to know there ARE people on our side. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Nov 24, 2010 3:27 AM GMT
    All I see are hets kissing. How did anyone know that it was in support of gays?
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    Nov 24, 2010 3:49 AM GMT
    Caslon16000 saidAll I see are hets kissing. How did anyone know that it was in support of gays?


    Funny isn't it ? There were actually a lot of same sex couples there but we wrere outnumbered by straight couples.

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    Nov 24, 2010 2:57 PM GMT
    I think that's very cool, to see so many straights supporting gay people like that. If it was just a group of gay people, the optics would be that they stand alone and that straights don't care.


    -Doug
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    Nov 24, 2010 6:01 PM GMT
    meninlove said I think that's very cool, to see so many straights supporting gay people like that. If it was just a group of gay people, the optics would be that they stand alone and that straights don't care.


    -Doug

    I think it was a manifestation of the reluctance of the lgbt here to "put a target" on themselves by going to this.

    I have only just become are that I have been wearing rose-tinted glasses in my little urban area.

    At Monday's meeting an older lesbian couple described being off the road in a ditch, while their neighbours drove past and would not help; they talked of feeling shunned at local events; things they bake for bake tables go untouched - always little things that are not overtly homophobic, but they feel isolated by their neighbours.

    The most commmon complaint was no one wants to accept there could be a problem in their community.
  • sparkie010

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    Nov 30, 2010 6:23 AM GMT
    Wahoo go pei !
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    Dec 02, 2010 1:50 PM GMT
    Charlottetown held its 6th obervance of World AIDS DAY December 1st with native drummers ftrom the MiqMa'aq nation . About fifty people attended the Service of Lament & Hope

    Perhaps an element of celebration might be observed next year in light of the fact that we have not lost someone to HIV/AIDS in many years. The service included readings of quotations from Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, The Book of Exodus, Psalms, and Fred Rogers (of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood)

    I read Psalm 102, and the passage from A Life of Service (by Fred Rogers)
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    Dec 02, 2010 2:09 PM GMT
    Love the Maritimes. Well done PEI.