from Prince Edward Island:




Dana Kenny's initial reaction to seeing a homophobic slur written on his truck on campus at UPEI seems natural enough.

The 20-year-old university student was at first angry when he encountered on Jan. 30 the word 'Faggot'. His anger, fortunately, did not carry the day.

He did not fly off the handle at the vulgar reference to him being gay. Instead, he took time to compose and reflect.

A couple days later, he sat down to post a general Facebook status inviting the author of the nasty one-word insult to have a conversation about it.

He told The Guardian Friday "that forgiveness came as I was typing.''

What he posted on Facebook was a compelling plea for respect, understanding and compassion.

"I hope that whoever left his intentional message of hate for me is reading this,'' Kenny wrote in his posting.

"I want you to know that I forgive you. Of course I was angry and upset at first, but perpetuating that anger would only lead to hate for you in my own heart - and that is not the solution to this problem. The solution is dialogue and an open mind.''

The guilty party has yet to come forward. He or she may never own up to the homophobic slur.

Kenny, though, has no regrets over his posting. His thoughtful comments struck a strong and positive chord with many.

Praise poured in via social media from across the country and even from as far away as Australia and China.

Commonly, a total stranger would remark that he or she may not know Kenny, but they feel what he did was very brave and courageous.

"It's been truly amazing to witness this community come together to shield one of their own,'' he said.

"The support I've received has been unbelievable.''

"I want you to know that I forgive you. Of course I was angry and upset at first, but perpetuating that anger would only lead to hate for you in my own heart - and that is not the solution to this problem. The solution is dialogue and an open mind,'' - Dana Kenny
Keith Lawlor says his friend deserves to be lauded for providing such a forward outlook and positive response to an ugly incident.

"He's an outstanding young man, level headed, smart, down-to-earth and charming, and someone that anyone would be proud to know,'' said Lawlor.

"He's genuinely and truly a leader among his peers and he will certainly do big things with his life.''

Kenny went public about being gay last April, just after his 20th birthday.

He didn't know how his parents would react even though they had always been supportive in all aspects of his life up to that point. He has been raised a Catholic and his brother is studying to become a priest.

His family responded by simply continuing in their supportive way.

"They just held me and hugged me and they were fine,'' said Kenny. Friends too have been "amazingly supportive.''

Kenny adds he is not angling to be a "poster boy'' for gay causes.

"It's bigger than me,'' he said.

Still, his eloquently written post offers thoughtful insight.

"Unfortunately, it's not so easy for everyone who is born with this unwanted "Kick Me Sign'' on their back,'' he posted on Facebook.

"Some people are bullied, and bullied and bullied, to the point where they feel as though they have died on the inside. Terribly this death on their inside has led some people to reflect it on their outside.''



jday@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian



http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-03-04/article-3191322/Hate-message-sparks-brave-and-courageous-response/1