ONTD Political

Gay owners to close restaurant, sick of insults

4:06 pm - 04/02/2013
A new rural Manitoba restaurant is suddenly closing its doors following a series of homophobic verbal attacks against the two gay owners.
Pots N Hands just opened for business last December in Morris, located about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg. Customers learned last week the eatery will now serve its final made-from-scratch meal in mid-April.

Morris Mayor Gavin van der Linde told the Free Press he was stunned to learn a handful of local citizens had essentially run the business out of town.

"It's very sad this has happened, that people have been small-minded enough to make them feel unwelcome," van der Linde said Monday. "It certainly doesn't reflect well on the community."

The two owners are from Winnipeg and felt they were filling a void with their restaurant, which specializes in home-cooked lunch and dinners. But they weren't prepared for the bigotry they experienced in the form of direct comments and confrontations about their sexual orientation
"It's been very difficult for us. It got to the point of being out of control by this certain group of people," one of the owners told the Free Press on Monday. They originally declined to speak last week, saying only that they were closing for "personal" reasons. But they later changed their minds on Monday after learning many others were expressing concern on their behalf. They asked that their names not be published for fear of ongoing retribution.

"This has been a very difficult decision," said the co-owner. "I cannot tell you how this has affected us on so many levels."

Van der Linde said he first learned of the incidents about two weeks ago and spoke to the two owners, who confirmed what had been occurring.

"I was surprised, I hadn't heard anything about any comments before that. Everyone I heard from loved the food. It was an extremely positive response," said van der Linde. The issue was raised at a town council meeting last month and everyone responded by going to the restaurant for lunch.

"We wanted to show our support," he said. "Unfortunately, you just need a few people to say something out of order and it can be taken as the feeling of the community as a whole. These derogatory comments are very unfortunate. We don't need those type of comments around."
The owners declined to provide specific examples of what's been said to them, saying they wish to exit the community with the "same grace" with which they set up shop late last year.

"Both of us understand this small group of individuals don't represent the community of Morris and surrounding communities as a whole," said one. Although it wasn't a secret that the restaurant was owned by two gay men, he said they've done nothing to "flaunt" their sexual orientation.

"But by no means are we ashamed of who we are and how we live," he said,

Several Morris-area residents have reached out to the owners to express their remorse and outrage over what has happened. There have also been dozens of encouraging and supportive messages posted on their Facebook page.

"Pretty low-class some citizens of Morris. The epitome of bigotry," wrote one supporter who works in the medical profession and has frequented the restaurant since it opened.

"Grow up, people. It's called living the life the way you want to," wrote another.

The Free Press spoke with one local citizen who has been identified by several sources as a vocal critic of the pair. Although he admitted their sexual orientation "isn't my choice" he denied saying anything homophobic to the two owners.

Horst Backe is a spokesman for Reaching Out Winnipeg, a program whose volunteers help people facing persecution and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He said the timing of this "shocking" incident is interesting given the Manitoba government's controversial new anti-bullying bill.

"These are adults here who are being bullied. It really underscores the need to protect children," said Backe.

Bill 18 has been a hot-button issue in the province for more than a month with some critics, including Manitoba senior federal cabinet minister Vic Toews, saying it infringes on religious freedom because it requires religious schools to accommodate student-led gay-straight alliance activities.

Education Minister Nancy Allan said Bill 18 does include all forms of bullying by its very definition of bullying. The bill says bullying is a behaviour that's intended to cause, or should be known to cause, fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation or property.

Backe said this type of discrimination isn't just the product of a small-town environment.

"You don't have to be accepting. You just have to be tolerant," he said. "I think you will find tolerance and acceptance, and intolerant and hateful people everywhere."

cinnamontoast 3rd-Apr-2013 11:51 am (UTC)
"saying it infringes on religious freedom"

I'm so sick of seeing this bullshit.
the_physicist 3rd-Apr-2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
Backe said this type of discrimination isn't just the product of a small-town environment.

Agreed, you do find them everywhere. But you find them even more in small town rural environments. That's why I got the hell out of dodge the minute I could.

The reason I dislike the argument that small-town environment doesn't lend itself to bigotry is because it's never backed up with evidence and all my lived experiences tell me it does help a lot with keeping bigotry alive. >_> So this argument stops people questioning what can be don about the bigoted rural areas of our countries that cling to the dark ages.
empressith 3rd-Apr-2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with you. I get so frustrated when people act like small towns are so great... they aren't. All people do is gossip.
keestone 3rd-Apr-2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
Kind of off point, but one of the "why haven't I turned the TV off and gone to bed yet" programs that I occasionally find myself half mesmerized by is one of those roundups of youtube videos, where the presenter finds and interviews the people who went viral for filming themselves jamming their faces into ceiling fans or setting their hair on fire or whatever. There's a running theme of an affable young man in a small town or rural area saying something to the effect of, "I was drunk, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and there's nothing else to do around here". A recent interviewee who got drunk and set his hair on fire was from a small Canadian town.

Now I'm almost admiring those guys because they found something more productive to do than gossip and harass other people. Kudos to them for bashing their own faces in for kicks instead of gay bashing? I dunno.
skellington1 3rd-Apr-2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
Both crime and divorce rates always seemed high in the small town where my mom grew up, and I just assumed it was boredom. Every time you'd visit it was like one half of every couple up and moved three houses to the left, and someone had a new murder/embezzlement/arson story to talk about. Granted, part of that is just that everyone knows everyone else, but it was still kinda freaky. High rates of drug use among kids, too.
peace_piper 4th-Apr-2013 01:41 am (UTC)
That's why I've been careful to keep to myself in a small town. I've lived here almost two years, but have yet to make a single friend. Of course, I have a lot of hobbies and interests that keep me very busy and about the most civic active I've been is entering some things in the county fair and having job interviews. So I'm sure I'm still an "unknown" or "that recluse". But then again, i don't intend to stay in this town either.
the_physicist 4th-Apr-2013 10:42 am (UTC)
yup, there's just nothing much to do out in the sticks.
paksenarrion2 4th-Apr-2013 03:33 am (UTC)
I grew up in a small town of about 5,000 people. Moved away for college, ended up moving back a couple of years after college to be close to my parents who were aging and needed some extra care. It was a typical small town-if you sneezed, within a day the rumor was going around that you had pneumonia.

I finally got fed up about 11 years ago and moved clear across the country to the PNW. (I realized that yes, my parents-especially my Dad needed help taking care of my Mom, but I had to start living my own life.) I moved to a big city, and the change was totally refreshing. Best thing I ever did. I miss my sister (both parents passed away a couple of years ago) and I miss fall in the mountains. Other than that? I don't miss a thing about small town life. It's also opened up a whole new career path for me-something I never would have had back there.

Don't get me wrong, small towns are great for some people. But they can be so limiting and insular. Especially isolated ones.

edited for tag droppage.

Edited at 2013-04-04 03:34 am (UTC)
the_physicist 4th-Apr-2013 10:46 am (UTC)
there are definitely benefits to small town and villages, but not for me. i elaborated lower down in the comments why the very thing that is nice about living somewhere isolated (the community spirit) is the very thing that makes life there impossible for me.

i love living in a bit city and don't ever want to move. however, life in the city is expensive. -_- i am sure at one point i will end up having to live outside of a major city, and i dread that day.
betray802 4th-Apr-2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
Grew up seven miles inland from Burlington, VT. Everyone else saw trees, I saw prison bars. Lake Champlain and the eastern slopes of the Adirondacks felt like the Berlin damn Wall. In January 96, Mom said "This summer, we're taking a trip to Denver to see if you father can find a job. If he does we'll be moving."

I hugged her. I could not get out of that backwater hellhole fast enough. Been back twice (99 and 03) and I never fail to get reminded why I was so eager to leave.
paksenarrion2 6th-Apr-2013 07:04 am (UTC)
*waves from a former across Lk Champlain neighbor*

I would have *loved* to have grown up near Burlington tbh. (I grew up near Lake Placid, NY) I hated having to drive 50 miles to buy anything but groceries. Hate that there was only one option on the weekend for a movie. Hated that there were more bars than restaurants. Hated that there was nothing to do but go out to the bars. But it is all relative I guess because what I would have seen as great, you saw as a prison. (Of course, winter in the North Country is a prison, no matter which side of the lake you live on. *g*)

And oddly enough, there are people that love to live there. They love the great outdoors. Fishing, hunting, hiking, swimming, anything to do with Mother Nature. Me? My idea of roughing it is to have to drive the RV up to a campsite and plug it in.

Glad you and your family were able to move to a place you found much more exciting and fun to live in.

I've been back to visit several times (since my parents lived there until they passed away and my sister still lives there). I do enjoy visiting and catching up with old friends. But I don't consider it home anymore.
nesmith 3rd-Apr-2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
The difference with small towns is that they are insular, so if there's already intolerance and bigotry it tends to keep feeding into itself.
kishmet 3rd-Apr-2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
I'm a consummate suburbanite but having spent a lot of time in small towns I've gotta agree. I think small town residents don't have to examine their beliefs as often or thoroughly as people who live elbow-to-elbow with gay couples. Anyone who's queer or gender non-conforming tends to... get the hell out of dodge tbh
moonshaz 4th-Apr-2013 05:14 am (UTC)
Iawtc. Hell, even people like me who are square pegs in general and/or just crave contact with a wider range of experiences and ideas tend to head for the hills as soon as they get a chance.

On the surface, I'm sure I looked like someone who should have been able get along just fine. (Het, cis, and all that.) And it's true that I could have lived there without facing actual discrimination or anything like that. But the idea of spending my life in the midst of all that narrow-mindness was way too fucking confining, and I felt like a fish that wasn't just out of water but marooned hundreds of miles from the nearest river/lake/ocean. I couldn't get out fast enough.

The people who are left behind tend to be the ones who think, believe, and act pretty much just like everyone else in town, and they end up being exposed only to people who think, believe, and act just like them. So they never learn that people who seem different in some ways are really just humans like everyone else. Insularity and sameness breeds more and more insularity and sameness, and it's just...ewwwww, no.
the_physicist 4th-Apr-2013 10:40 am (UTC)
The people who are left behind tend to be the ones who think, believe, and act pretty much just like everyone else in town, and they end up being exposed only to people who think, believe, and act just like them. So they never learn that people who seem different in some ways are really just humans like everyone else. Insularity and sameness breeds more and more insularity and sameness, and it's just...ewwwww, no.

there's also the big issue of 'community'. the very thing people value about small towns and rural areas is the same thing that leads to abuse and discrimination and so on being more tolerated. you know everyone, you're friends with everyone, you're related to a lot of people there... they're all part of your community and you will protect them if they face the 'mean' and 'evil' accusations of having done something that you have learnt only bad people do. and they're good people. you know they are.

small town and rural folk think they are open minded, but they really need to learn that they are not and do something about it. that not only includes reading up and learning about the people they don't meet and the opinions of people unlike them, it also means admitting that anyone is capable of being a bigot or an abuser.
betray802 4th-Apr-2013 02:48 pm (UTC)
Oh gods, yes. Having reconnected with several former schoolmates on FB, the ones who bailed out at a dead sprint tend to be more accepting and open-minded. The ones who stayed are so far to the right of everything, it's a wonder they haven't rolled off the planet.
romp 4th-Apr-2013 04:49 am (UTC)
Do people say that? Of course cities are more accepting! There's less homogeny simply because of the numbers. People are less likely to frightened of The Other when that person is living next door.

I wish everyone could live in a city during their 20s.
the_physicist 4th-Apr-2013 10:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, people do say that. They say cities are only better because you can meet with more people 'of your type' (with bonus subtle dig at it all just being a subculture and scene), but yeah, why would you really need that when in comparison you can have your neighbourly and friendly rural/small town folk instead? Cities are full of unfriendly people after all.

There are a lot of people who really just don't get it. Obviously the ones who don't suffer discrimination.
betray802 4th-Apr-2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
"Cities are full of unfriendly people." And gangs, and drugs, and crime. When my family announced our impending move to Colorado, everyone acted like we'd be trading the car in at Kansas City to join a wagon train. "They have decent civilization way out there?"

Returning in 99 for the first time (with Mother and Younger Sister in tow) I was besieged by Younger Sister's friends -- "Are you really sure she's not on drugs or something? She doesn't even talk right anymore, she sounds like a burnout!"
empressith 3rd-Apr-2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
Is it bullying with adults? Shouldn't that be harassment? Is there a difference in terms?
skellington1 3rd-Apr-2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
It may be both, and there's overlap, but as far as I know it's still bullying with adults -- 'workplace bullying' is a fairly common term (and occurrence, sadly).
ceruleanst 3rd-Apr-2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
I think the shade of meaning is that bullying is a pattern of behavior meant to demoralize and assert social dominance over the victim. Harassment, assault, battery, threats, vandalism: these are all actions. Bullying is doing any of those things with the particular motive of bullying, to impart the message "I can do this to you whenever I want and you probably can't do anything about it."
romp 4th-Apr-2013 04:51 am (UTC)
I think it's harassment and intimidation whether it's with children or adults. I avoid the word "bullying" because people often think of it as minor and a rite of passage. It terrorizes people and kills some, regardless of the age.
abee 3rd-Apr-2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
Although he{a local citizen} admitted their sexual orientation "isn't my choice" he denied saying anything homophobic to the two owners.

...Not his choice? As far as I'm concerned, no one asked you for your damned blessing on their 'sexual orientation.'. Wtf?
keestone 3rd-Apr-2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
WTF indeed. Their sexual orientation isn't their choice either, it's part of who they are and not really {local citizen}'s business. {local citizen}'s sexual orientation isn't a "choice" either, and you bet your ass it's not the "choice" of his neighbors. WTFF.
carmy_w 3rd-Apr-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
C'mon, people of Morris!

Don't just express your remorse and outrage to the restaurant owners, express it to the jackasses doing the harassment! Pull their actions into the light and expose them for the bullies they are!

*steps off soapbox*
moonshaz 4th-Apr-2013 05:20 am (UTC)

If they REALLY think these harassers are being douchebags, they need to tell them that to their faces. Anything else is just plain hypocritical.

People are such a bunch of freaking wimps sometimes.
moonbladem 3rd-Apr-2013 05:39 pm (UTC)
Disgusting behavior on behalf of those assholes. I hope the mayor at least initiates a harassment investigation into the people responsible. If they don't want to patronize their establishment, fine... why head to the restaurant every day just to harass the owners?

The Free Press spoke with one local citizen who has been identified by several sources as a vocal critic of the pair. Although he admitted their sexual orientation "isn't my choice" he denied saying anything homophobic to the two owners.

Please... of course he'd say that!
kittenmommy 4th-Apr-2013 01:22 am (UTC)

Ugh. That's just awful!
magedragonfire 4th-Apr-2013 03:41 am (UTC)
Another article I read about this had one resident quoted as saying some awful stuff, including 'what do you think they're up to in the kitchen' (paraphrased).

I'm like, what the fuck do you think? It's a restaurant, for fuck's sake. And I bet he'd never question het couples who own restaurants together about getting freaky-deaky in the back, oh, no.

(God, it'd be an awful place to get it on, anyway. Tiny and knives and pots and hot surfaces every which way you look.)

Edited at 2013-04-04 03:42 am (UTC)
moonshaz 4th-Apr-2013 04:54 am (UTC)
"It certainly doesn't reflect well on the community."

Well, now, THAT is an understatement right there, isn't it? /rhetorical question
carmy_w 4th-Apr-2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
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