Jessica Hanks was the Canada Day decorating contest winner in Wetaskiwin, but received hate mail for including a Pride flag in her display. Photo submitted.

Decoration winner gets hate mail for sharing Pride flag

Jessica Hanks was this year’s winner of the City of Wetaskiwin’s Canada Day decorating contest.

When she received an anonymous letter earlier this week, she thought it might be someone reaching out to congratulate her, so she opened it.

Instead of praising Hanks for receiving 6,117 votes for her decorations, the individual had written to tell Hanks they disapproved of display of inclusivity, which included the Pride flag.

“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 letter says.

Hank says she was horrified as she read the letter.

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

Hanks says the letter felt like a personal attack on a mother of a 15-year-old daughter who is part of the LGBTQ community.

Hanks was taken aback that somebody would hate the LGBTQ community enough, that they would write her a letter about her use of the Pride flag in her decorations.

The letter continues, claiming, “junk like the ‘Pride’ followers have no place in society and certainly not in Wetaskiwin.”

Hanks posted the letter to social media sites Tuesday. By noon the next day, Hanks had more than 320 comments on the post, the vast majority supporting her and denouncing the homophobic letter.

“It was nice to see Wetaskiwin have my back,” she says.

Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam spoke up in support of Hanks and the LGBTQ community.

“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,” said Gandam on his Facebook page.

“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. If you’re unhappy with how things are and need help finding a realtor, please let me know, I’ll be happy to help!”

Hanks has decided to take the letter’s negativity and turn it into a positive.

“I’m going to retaliate with even more love,” she says. “When you drive by my house next time, the rainbow will be even bigger.”

On Sunday, Hanks and volunteers will be painting her fence in rainbow colours to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

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Jessica Hanks was the Canada Day decorating contest winner and received hate mail for including Pride in her decorations. Photo submitted.

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