You'd think of all the days when a same-sex couple would feel free to hug each other in public, it would be Gay Day. Of course, in a perfect world, it would be everyday, but Barrett Morrison and Brandon Hamilton learned that not even the gayest of days can exist without homophobia.
Morrison and Hamilton were waiting in line at Canada's Wonderland during the annual Gay Day, hosted by LGBT advocacy group PFLAG and coinciding with Pride Month in Toronto. The couple claims they were just hugging each other as couples are wont to do, I'm told, when a park employee asked them to stop.
According to Morrison, the employee told them someone had complained about their PDA and that "we should check our behaviour because it's a family park."
Morrison and Hamilton didn't stand for that and "told off" the employee, who promptly apologized.
"We don't necessarily blame the kid who approached us," Hamilton told BuzzFeed. "I think he was just relaying a message [from a woman in line] and didn't think about what he was saying."
The couple wrote a letter to the park's general manager expressing their disappointment, as well as calling for staff to receive better non-discrimination training, and asking management to consider giving Gay Day a park-wide presence as an official event.
The park's general manager Norm Pirtovshek sent a written apology to the couple, but said staff already received "extensive" non-discrimination training. He added that the park wouldn't commit to expanding Gay Day because it had to treat all groups equally.
Finding Wonderland's response dismissive, Morrison and Hamilton took their story public.
"We were waiting in line, and we were affectionate. Because we're a couple and that's what couples do," Morrison told BuzzFeed. "It's so offensive and absurd that anyone would consider that not family friendly. It's just flat-out homophobia."
Toronto's PFLAG president Anne Crieghton called the incident "discouraging and devastating" and an example of the inadequacy of the staff's non-discrimination training. PFLAG Canada
"Staff need to go under some sort of sensitivity training so that they understand that this is Canada and people are allowed to openly show affection," Creighton told the Toronto Star. "That customers didn't like seeing two men hug is their problem. It doesn't require park enforcement."
PFLAG Canada president Bev Belanger said that she emailed Pirtovshek to ask for details on the park's existing sensitivity training and to offer further workshops by PFLAG staff. After failing to receive a response, PFLAG Canada announced it would be canceling all future Gay Days at Wonderland:
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[h/t] Toronto Star