Threatening letter and damaged Pride flags outside Tillsonburg business, owner ‘heartbroken’

Pride flags outside Indigo Lounge and Wellness Centre in Tillsonburg, Ont., were burned, slashed and discoloured in the early hours on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Kelly Spencer / Facebook

Oxford OPP are investigating after two Pride flags were damaged and a threatening and homophobic letter was left outside a Tillsonburg, Ont., business.

Kelly Spencer, owner of Indigo Lounge and Wellness Centre, took to Facebook on Monday to showcase the Pride flags flying outside her business.

Read more: Tillsonburg, Ont. man charged after Pride flags stolen or vandalized, OPP say

On Tuesday morning, Spencer arrived at work to see the flags slashed, burned and discoloured with a message left behind.

Sealed in a plastic bag, the letter was addressed to: “f—-t supporter / or f—-t.”

According to Spencer, the letter said, “if you continue to support f—-ts, this flag will be an allegory of what your house will end up to be.”

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It was signed “sincerely” with initials that were illegible, according to police.

OPP said the investigation is ongoing.

“I was simply heartbroken,” Spencer said. “Not just for my business and the threat of towards me, but we have always been accepting and loving of all people here at this inn and we’ve tried to make it a safe place for all people. And to have staff and customers that are in this community see this, that broke my heart.”

Spencer took to Facebook on Tuesday night to share her emotional reaction, opening her response with, “today, the world changed me.”

“Not being homophobic or not being racist is not enough anymore,” Spencer wrote. “There is a rise of hate crimes in our neighborhoods (and) in our community.”

The outside of the threatening and homophobic letter that was left outside of the Indigo Lounge and Wellness Centre in Tillsonburg, Ont., on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Kelly Spencer / Facebook

Spencer said that over the weekend, a friend of hers in Norwich Township received verbal threats from passing teens wanting them to take down their Pride flag. According to Spencer, one of the teens lifted their shirt to reveal a gun in their pants. The gun was later identified as a toy, she said.

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But these are not the first incidents involving the destruction of Pride flags as other rural communities across southwestern Ontario are reporting an increase in occurrences over the month of June.

Read more: Oxford OPP investigating after Pride crosswalk defaced in Ingersoll, Ont.

“Your hate, your crimes, your vandalism is heart-breaking, and I hold deep compassion for you,” Spencer said, addressing the individual responsible for her damaged flags and threatening letter. “Truly, to be in such a state of suffering that you did this to my property and feel this way about other human beings.

“Your hate did not blacken my love. Love always wins.”

She added that since the incident, people within the community have been showing their support.

“The outpour of love and kindness has been in the hundreds and hundreds of people,” Spencer said. “We’ve had flowers sent to us, we have had gifts dropped off, we have had people volunteered to do services here. I just had somebody messaged me wanting to put up some video cameras for free.”

Spencer says she has contacted various community leaders, including the Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar, her local chamber of commerce and the BIA, aspiring to create a positive change with a “unified front of love and acceptance.”

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She’s working to hold a meeting with representatives to address the issue soon.

“Bob Marley said the people who are trying to make the world worse are not taking a day off. Why will I?” Spencer said. “Just as love is love, hate is hate, and I want to promote human rights, inclusivity and kindness for humanity.”

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