Nova Scotia

Sign celebrates 'trans-owned business' in Lower Sackville

Jay Roy's comic shop is more than a business, it's a safe space for transgender youth

Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles

Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles in Lower Sackville, N.S., got the sign for free from a local artist. (Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles/ Facebook)

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The owner of a comics shop in Lower Sackville, N.S., has put a "trans-owned business" sign in his window to make the space more visible for members of the LGBT community.

"There's a lot of trans youth who are coming out. They need to see that we're here, we're queer and we own comic book stores too," Jay Roy, owner of Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles, told CBC's Information Morning

The bright blue and pink sign, which also says "representation matters," went up two weeks ago during Pride. It's one of the ways Roy is working to bring better visibility to transgender rights and create a safe space for those who need it. 

Could be dangerous 

At first, Roy and his friends worried the sign could elicit the wrong kind of response.

"I know that there would be some people who might find it a little odd or maybe might potentially be dangerous in today's climate, but in my point of view that's all the more reason to do it in the first place," he said. 

But once the sign was shared on social media by his friend, cartoonist Sophie Labelle, messages of support started rolling in from as far away as the United States and Australia.

Jay Roy

Jay Roy is the owner of Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles. (Eileen McInnis/CBC)

"I've gotten lots of messages from parents … mothers emailing me saying, 'Thank you, my daughter or my son or my child saw this and it really mattered to them,'" said Roy.

He said his business is more than a comics shop.

Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles holds video game clubs and storytelling meetups, and acts as a drop-in centre for members of the LGBT community.

Still a long way to go

"There's so many youth that need somewhere to go in Sackville, so I just try to provide them with a fun space that's safe. I'm like the bodyguard there. There's a zero tolerance for bullying there," said Roy. 

Roy also provides work experience and references for transgender youth who are just starting out in the workforce.

It's a calling that runs in the family.

For a decade, Roy's mother owned an art and crafts store in nearby Fall River where he'd hang out with friends as a junior high student who was bullied at school. 

He hopes his store provides the same safe space, although he knows it's just a start. 

"There's a long way to go in representation," said Roy. "There's a long way to go in just basic health care and basic human rights still, so we definitely have some more work to do."