An east-end couple, who made headlines after a moving photo of their son's birth was used in a European anti-gay campaign, was the target of homophobia once again, this time in their own backyard.
"I answered the door and the teenagers told me they were doing a class project and they needed to come around to do something," said Frank Nelson, who lives in the Danforth and Coxwell Avenue area with his partner B.J. Barone and baby Milo.
"I decided to listen to what they had to say and two of the kids started to sing Jingle Bells," Nelson told CBC Toronto.
He said the song started to get a little "off-colour" as one of the kids asked him what he thought of the LGBT community. Then, Nelson saw the teens had written something in the snow on the hood of the couple's vehicle: "F--K LGBT."
Barone decided to call the police and while on the phone, followed the group of teens as they continued down the street and bothered neighbours along the way.
Teens returned, apologized
The incident happened in early February and according to the couple, the teenagers were apprehended by police and brought back to the couple's home to apologize the same night.
They say when the teens were apologizing they admitted that the one who left the hateful message in the snow had already run off. No arrests were made or charges laid.
Barone and Nelson, who are both high school teachers, fear that the behaviour they saw is a result of something the teens learned at home.
"We just want to reach out to ...those kids and just say, 'You know what? It's 2017. This stuff shouldn't happen,'" said Barone.
'I've never had an experience like that'
After a photo of Barone and Nelson holding their newborn son Milo went viral in 2014, they discovered that the very same image was the focal point of an anti-gay campaign in Italy and Ireland advocating for legislation against same-sex parenting and surrogate parents.
But they say this latest incident was more unsettling.
"This was directed at us and our community and our home so it's a much scarier experience than hearing posters of us are all over Italy," said Nelson.
Barone and Nelson feel that the current political climate south of the border is spilling over into Canada and may have emboldened the teens to act out.
"I think people are feeling much more confident for whatever reason to be racist, homophobic or hateful right now and I think it's scary," said Nelson.
The couple think the teens knew they were gay because they fly a pride flag in their yard every summer.
When they discussed if the incident would affect whether they would fly it this year Nelson said, "We're going to fly it even longer this summer because we're not going to allow kids or anyone to bring us down and scare our family. "