With the paint barely dry on the Village’s gay history mural, one gay business owner alleges that he’s received threats from passersby.
Rob Giacobbi, owner of Wilde’s, says that in the space of two days, two different men popped their heads into his shop threatening to vandalize the building and mural.
“He just said, “Die faggot! I’m going to smash every window on this building! At first I thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t. I could tell from the intensity in his eyes. It makes you think how much gay people are still not accepted,” Giacobbi says.
Giacobbi says the threats don’t faze him. In his opinion, the fight to recognize the Village on Bank St has been the cause of much confusion and anger.
“I don’t know what’s taking so long for the city to say this is the LGBT area. There must be fear there. I feel sorry because in Canada we’re so conditioned to think everyone is accepting,” he says. “I think the problem here is the gay agenda has been forced down everybody’s throats to accept things. I think people who are upset about it and get an opportunity to lash out will take it.”
Giacobbi is no stranger to violence against his store. Last year, his display window was smashed after a kerfuffle over a bylaw complaint, extensive media coverage and Giacobbi’s posting of readers’ comments from an Ottawa Sun story about the incident.
“The police didn’t help me last time. They did a report. They caught the guy [who smashed the window]. He said, ‘I smashed his window.’ And nothing came about it. I can’t live in fear. I’m almost 50. It just disappoints me,” Giacobbi says.
David Rimmer, owner of After Stonewall, says the gay history mural will give local homophobes a target for their anger, but it won’t affect business in any way other than to serve as a marker for the area.
“Is it going to scare people away? I don’t think so. Is it going to drag people in by the load? I don’t think so. It’s neutral. It’s a bit of wall art. In terms of attracting people, it’s not going to be a ‘must-see mural.’ But it’ll be interesting for people wandering into the neighbourhood to see. The focus is the corner where we used to have the Pride parties. Homophobia already exists. [The mural] just gives it a target,” he says.