Same-sex couple promotes LGBTQ campaign after verbal attack

In response to a public attack launched at the same-sex couple in Kelowna on October 21 a string of B.C. businesses are standing up for LGBTQ rights with a rainbow sticker campaign.

A man harrassed the couple for holding hands on Oct. 21 in Kelowna

Mike Andrews (L) and Sean Leighton (R) were verbally attacked for holding hands last month in Kelowna, and now they're encouraging businesses to participate in the rainbow sticker campaign to support LGBTQ rights. (Submitted by Mike Andrews)

Holding hands with your significant other can be a thing of comfort, but that wasn't the case for former Saskatoon resident Mike Andrews and his partner Sean Leighton last month.

In response to a public attack launched at the same-sex couple in Kelowna on October 21 a string of B.C. businesses are standing up for LGBTQ rights with a rainbow sticker campaign.

Andrews and Leighton were walking through downtown Kelowna while holding hands when they were suddenly verbally attacked by a man in the street.

"What he said was 'disgusting', and when I heard that it kind of just really took something out of me," said Andrews, adding that the couple tried to walk away from the situation.

The two were shocked when the man continued to yell at them: "Do you want to make something of this?"

"I felt shunned and disrespected," he said.

Andrews and Sean stand in front of a Kelowna business participating in the rainbow sticker campaign. (Submitted by Mike Andrews)

"For me it was a bit of disbelief," said Leighton, adding that he has lived in Kelowna for a year and a half and never encountered a homophobic situation there until that day.

The couple said they reported the incident to police.

Standing up

Kelowna entrepreneur Lisa Burke watched the attack unfold from inside her hair salon. She felt compelled to show support by launching a rainbow sticker campaign for LGBTQ rights.
Salon owner Lisa Burke ordered dozens of stickers and is encouraging Kelowna businesses to pick one up and display them as a sign of support. (Lisa Burke)

A string of businesses in the city followed suit by placing the colourful stickers in their store windows.

'It's a great thing and it would be nice if all businesses would have this so everyone feels comfortable no matter what sexual orientation you are," said Andrews.

The couple say they hope the campaign carries forward and expands in the future so everyone can feel safe.

With files from CBC radio's The Morning Edition