Metro Weekly

Canadian mayor offers to help anti-gay resident leave town

A Wetaskiwin resident sent an anonymous letter complaining about a Pride flag

canada, mayor, letter, anti-gay, pride, flag

The anonymous anti-gay letter received by Jessica Hanks

A Canadian mayor has offered to help a local homophobe find a realtor and move out of town after backlash over an anti-gay letter.

Tyler Gandam, mayor of Wetaskiwin, Canada, said that he was “happy to help” the anonymous author of the letter leave the city after they complained about a pro-LGBTQ yard display last month.

It came after Wetaskiwin resident Jessica Hanks won the Grand Prize in the city’s Canada Day yard decorating contest, after winning the most votes from the public.

Hanks, whose 15-year-old daughter is gay, had included a Pride flag in her display in a show of inclusivity.

She received an anonymous letter after winning the competition, but rather than a note of congratulations, its author told Hanks that she was supporting a “‘sick’ portion of society.”

“You apparently have no pride in being a true Canadian in that I do believe that was a multi-coloured ‘flag’ hanging on your fence indicating the ‘sick’ portion of society,” the anonymous letter said. “Junk like the ‘Pride’ followers have no place in society and certainly not in Wetaskiwin.”

The author also criticized the painting of rainbow crosswalks in the city in June to celebrate Pride month, writing, “I sincerely hope and pray you were not one of those who painted the avenue-way by Norquest college. If you were, SHAME ON YOU!”

Hanks said the attack felt particularly personal as the mother of an LGBTQ child.

“I started crying,” Hanks told the Pipestone Flyer. “My daughter was standing beside me as I read it and my daughter is gay.”

Hanks shared the letter on Facebook, saying she was “proud as hell to support the LGBTQ community. As the mother of a gay child.”

“She is not sick. She is not disgusting. She is perfect in EVERY SINGLE WAY,” Hanks wrote, adding that the letter “shook me to my core.”

The post was quickly filled with supportive comments, condemning the letter and its author and offering encouragement to Hanks and her daughter.

“It was nice to see Wetaskiwin have my back,” she told the Pipestone Flyer, adding that she would be retaliating to the letter with “even more love.”

“When you drive by my house next time the rainbow will be even bigger,” she said.

The letter also drew the attention of Mayor Gandam, who took to Facebook to support the city’s LGBTQ community and offer to help the letter’s author find a realtor and move out of town.

“If the person who wrote this, sees this post, please know that I was one of the people who proudly helped paint the Pride crosswalks on Main Street this year and last year,” Gandam wrote.

“I’m proud of the City I live in and get to be the Mayor for. I hope that we continue to build inclusivity in our community,” he continued. “If you’re unhappy with how things are and need help finding a realtor, please let me know, I’ll be happy to help!”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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