Airdrie’s LGBTQ community was the target of hateful messaging for the third time in less than two months.
Saturday, a shed on the side of the QEII Highway on the southern outskirts of Airdrie was painted with “LGBT virus.”
Airdrie Pride Society‘s Jordana Baker doesn’t think the location of the ersatz billboard is a coincidence.
“It’s right off the highway as you’re entering. It’s right by the ‘Welcome to Airdrie’ sign,” Baker told Global News Sunday. “So the person chose that spot for a clear reason, and it’s hard not to let those messages really affect you personally.”
Baker said it was like Groundhog Day for the city’s LGBTQ community after Airdrie’s rainbow Pride sidewalk was vandalized with homophobic graffiti on June 20 and tarred and feathered on June 27.
“Our community basically saw [the graffiti] and took a deep sigh, ‘Here we go again.’ But their response also was, ‘Hey, let’s do the same thing we’ve always done,’ which is reflect what we actually experience in Airdrie,” Baker said.
Baker characterizes Airdrie as a safe, welcoming, inclusive city for the LGBTQ community.
“Part of me was discouraged and the other part of me went, ‘No, no, I know the people in Airdrie,’” Baker said.
“I know the community, the experience and this doesn’t reflect that. So let’s cover it up and move on.”
Baker said allies of Airdrie’s LGBTQ community, including companies and citizens, immediately stepped up, contacting the property owner and painting over the hateful message.
By Sunday, the shed had “LGBTQ+,” a heart with an arrow through it and a raised fist commonly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement painted on the side.
“It was great to see our allies come forward and just say, ‘Hey, this isn’t for you guys to solve here. We all can be a part of the solution,’” Baker said.
Airdrie RCMP told Global News they are investigating the latest incident.
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown said it’s unclear if the graffiti is connected with the damage done to the Pride sidewalk earlier this year.
“We’re not certain who’s doing this or whether it’s the same people or the same person or if they even live in Airdrie,” Brown said.
“It’s really pathetic and I just hope this person or these people are caught and they are held accountable for their actions.”
– With files from Kaylen Small and Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News