It was such a painful symbol of hate: targeted vandalism that impacted the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
There were two consecutive attempts to deface Airdrie’s rainbow walkway. Many people in the community were in disbelief.
The pathway was spray-painted with homophobic graffiti, and in a separate incident, someone tarred and feathered a section of it.
Candice Kutyn, vice-president of the Airdrie Pride Society, said it was overwhelming.
“That was the hardest part. My friends and family and the youth I support are walking around in fear,” Kutyn said.
But on Friday afternoon, the group channelled that fear and anger into something much more powerful as they rallied and repainted. The graffiti didn’t stain their spirits.
“We don’t want to fight hate with hate. We were angry but this is the culmination of love and support and a way to continue to drown out the hate with love,” Kutyn said.
Kiersten Mohr, the president of Airdrie Pride Society, said it made them more resilient.
“It reinforced for our community that we aren’t going away. We talked about how we will repaint as many times as we have to,” Mohr said.
“With every layer we paint, the rainbow gets thicker and we get stronger,” Mohr said.
Airdrie Coun. Tina Petrow felt compelled to help repaint.
“It’s just positive energy that flows and I am emotional and it brings me to tears,” Petrow said.
Airdrie resident Justin Shenher also volunteered his time to help.
“This is where we live. I need to be proud of where we live and show the people who did this that we are stronger than the vandalism,” Shenher said.
Airdrie Pride received countless messages of love and support from across the country, reassuring the community and its allies.
“We need to realize there’s no place for hatred. We are here to love and support, and we need to stop me versus you. This is us. We are all in this together,” Petrow said.
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