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‘Homophobic’ sign in Red Deer draws fire

A local business owner is sorry after his “homophobic and transphobic” billboard drew backlash from social media on Thursday.

  • Sep. 15, 2016 7:04 p.m.

A local business owner is sorry after his “homophobic and transphobic” billboard drew backlash from social media on Thursday.

The large sign outside of Queen’s Diner in the Burnt Lake Industrial area read, “It’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve! Pick a washroom.”

“I do apologize to the people I offended by that sign,” said owner Scott Shaw. “It wasn’t my intent to belittle anybody and to come across as a homophobic person.”

Pictures of the sign made its rounds through social media on Thursday, forcing Shaw to delete the diner’s social media accounts.

Shaw said the message was more about him not being able to put a third bathroom in his restaurant and letting people choose between the men or women’s facility.

Serge Gingras, chair for the Central Alberta Pride Society, said these types of things are discouraging especially with all the steps forward taken in the community.

“Often people make those kinds of statements without even knowing what they are talking about. When I first read the sign my first reaction was this is homophobia and transphobia combined together in one,” said Gingras.

Shaw said he now understands the seriousness of the situation and said he never meant to hurt anybody. He admits the Adam and Eve reference was poorly used.

“I realize now it’s a sensitive topic. These are types of things that need to be approached in a more professional manner. I made a mistake. I know this isn’t a light hearted manner and I take 100 per cent responsibility,” said Shaw.

Shaw stresses he is not looking for sympathy and is ready to accept any consequences concerning his business.

“I’m not here to save my business. If people don’t want to eat at this diner because people think I’m a homophobic person there is nothing I can do. Their minds are made up.” said Shaw.

However, Shaw does have one message for the community.

“I don’t want people to support this place because they think I hate gay people because I don’t and I don’t want the gay community not to come here because they think I hate gay people,” said Shaw.

Shaw said he won’t make the same mistake when thinking of what to display on his sign.

Less than a month ago, the city celebrated Central Alberta Pride Week.

jonathan.guignard@bprda.wpengine.com