Homophobic attacks prompt gay owners to close Manitoba restaurant

Gavin van der Linde, mayor of Morris, Man., said the incident would reflect poorly on the community. Photo courtesy …Shameful times in small-town Manitoba, where the homosexual owners of a brand new restaurant are closing up shop because a few residents have taken to attacking and insulting their sexual orientation.

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Morris, Man., restaurant Pots N Hands will close in April, just four months after opening for business. The owners at first refused to discuss why they decided to close shop, finally relenting and admitting the decision came following a series of homophobic attacks.

The owners would even only speak to the Free Press on the condition of anonymity. An odd condition, considering they are already known to those in the community. But these are the steps taken when discrimination boils, and threatens to boil further.

One of the owners told the newspaper:

It's been very difficult for us. It got to the point of being out of control by this certain group of people. This has been a very difficult decision," said the co-owner. "I cannot tell you how this has affected us on so many levels.

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So what kind of outrage could there actually be, in this day and age, to a homosexual couple opening a restaurant? If you think the comments in question were smarmy asides and acidic innuendo, think again.

One local resident was very open about his distaste for the pair. In a separate article, Aaron Kleinsasser told the Free Press the couple should leave town.

"They should get the hell out of here. I don't really like them -- the service and who they are," he said. "I agree (they should leave). It makes you feel uncomfortable. I've been in there twice, I believe, and I regret it."

This seems to be a case of small mindedness, one that some residents of rural communities are often accused of fostering. This writer, from a relatively small Manitoban town himself, suspects neighbourly grace and civility would have eventually outshone the bad apples, should the owners have decided to dig in their heels and fight through the early abuses.

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That said it is far easier to speak of martyrdom than to engage in it, especially when personal attacks are compounding the financial struggles of business ownership.

The couple is free to seek their fortunes elsewhere, perhaps somewhere more welcoming.

It is the community's loss. The mayor knows this — Gavin van der Linde told the Free Press that the whole affair doesn't "reflect well on the community."

His response echoes one from earlier this year, when the local newspaper ran a cartoon and editorial widely accused of being racist against aboriginal people.

The Morris Mirror stated that some natives acted like terrorists. "Indians/Natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it," the editorial went on to say.

Two strikes in quick succession. Not a great start to 2013, Morris.