The owner of a local restaurant met with the Central Alberta Pride Society on Thursday after his “pick a bathroom” billboard recently sparked backlash in Red Deer.
Scott Shaw, Queen’s Diner owner, caused an uproar on social media after putting up a sign that read “It’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve! Pick a washroom” outside his restaurant in the Burnt Lake Industrial area.
Shaw was quick to apologize, saying it wasn’t his intention to offend anyone.
Serge Gingras, Chair of the Central Alberta Pride Society, said the conversation was really positive.
“I shared stories about some of the things that happen in the LGBT community whether it’s when a person comes out to their families, their circle of friends or co-workers and the concerns and worries they have,” said Gingras. “He started asking questions and wanted to become better educated.”
Gingras said Shaw had little knowledge of the struggles members of the LGBT go through on a daily basis.
“I don’t think he had that awareness in terms of how people in the LGBT are treated and the affects it has on people. There’s bullying and intimidation that goes on quite a bit which sometimes leads to depression and in more serious situations can lead to suicide,” said Gingras.
Gingras helped him to understand and cleared up some of Shaw’s questions.
“There was a little bit of confusion on my behalf with some of the definitions used inside the LGBT community and he explained them to me. I told him I didn’t intend to create any kind of hatred towards anybody in that community,” said Shaw.
Although Shaw’s sign drew a ton backlash in the community, Gingras’s approach was simple.
“There’s no point for me or anyone to penalize or punish someone for this because it doesn’t trigger change. True conversation is how we can start making a difference. It can change a persons perspective and view on the world,” said Gingras.
Shaw said his perspective has changed and is glad Gingras reached out to him.
“He’s a pretty down to earth guy. He’s the kind of guy who can take any situation and not be bias whether he’s been affected by it or not. He’s done a lot of good stuff within our community and I can definitely appreciate that,” said Shaw.
Shaw plans on attending future meetings with Gingras to learn more about the LGBT community.