This rainbow coloured pizza slice painting is on display at a Red Deer restaurant for Central Alberta Pride Week. Photo contributed

Red Deer business gets flak over pride week window display

Pizza and love – for most people, those words belong in the same sentence.

A Red Deer business owner combined the two when he decided to place a drawing of a rainbow-coloured pizza slice on his restaurant, for Central Alberta Pride week.

The pizza art is on the front window at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria in Red Deer, with the words “love is love.”

On the back window, the restaurant has “Pride” in rainbow colours and with hearts.

Owner and operator Ryan Curtis said this is the first time the business has participated in pride week so actively. The decision was an important one to the owner, noting 17 per cent of his employees (four out of 28) identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community.

“We’ve always been inclusive, whether it’s race, diversity, religion or sexual preferences. This time, we just took it a step further,” he explained Monday.

The owner fielded three derogatory phone calls from a man Saturday about the pride paintings.

“It was back to back with only few minutes’ breaks in between, saying that I subjected his family to my f-word images and how could we be bothered to support this kind of thing for a bunch of homosexuals. It was really derogatory to the point that it was frustrating.”

Annoyed, he decided to share what was happening on Twitter with a picture of the colourful display.

“This gentleman could’ve looked at the art on the windows and say ‘that’s not for me, I choose not to support them,’ and that’s fine. But to call us just to be rude, just to swear and be mad about something as simple as a rainbow pizza is just crazy,” he explained.

His tweet sparked interest and discussion on Twitter.

“I shouldn’t have posted on Twitter, but I figured this was a way to raise awareness without outing someone or putting up phone numbers or giving names,” he explained. “It’s a way to raise awareness that these things still exist.”

To his surprise, the Twitter community supported the business, and both Red Deerians and out of towners now want to check out the restaurant and grab a slice.

He said raising awareness was important because he figures the LGBTQ community faces this on a day-to-day basis.

The Red Deer business owner does not believe the negative comments toward the LGBTQ community are specific to the city or rural Alberta.

“It happens everywhere,” he says.

“The amazing thing is how much support has come out of this, and I never intended it to be this thing where people are like ‘we want to come in for pizza.” That wasn’t the intention.

“The intention was to draw attention that people are still intolerant and can be extremely aggressive or rude over silly things.”

The support makes the business owner happy – to see that something negative has now turned into a positive.

“It’s sad that it takes something bad to rally the community, but it’s incredible, the spirit of it all, and that makes me proud.”

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