Friday, November 30, 2007

The Homophobic Bigots of Bothwell, Ontario

It's the dream of so many gay couples I know. Get married. Find an old home in the country...fix it up... settle down. And hopefully live happily ever after.

Just like this couple in Bothwell, Ontario was hoping to do.












Until the homophobic zombies made their lives hell.

Hate drove Terry and Ryan Hamilton out of Bothwell.

The Hamiltons fled the East Kent hamlet after nearly six months of being targets of blatant gay bashing and constant harassment.

The couple said their plants and shrubs were uprooted, lawn furniture was smashed and their pond was destroyed.

They said they heard countless anti-gay comments and their vehicles were tampered with and damaged.

And then there was the night the lights went out....

There was a blackout in Bothwell that night that would last nine hours.

As darkness fell, their fear grew.

And then it started.

They said people ran around their house, hitting windows, throwing rocks and screaming slurs.

"We figured they were coming through the window that night," Terry Hamilton said.

He said the people were yelling "die faggots" and at one point someone spray painted that message on the house.

The Hamiltons huddled inside, armed with a rake and a lawn hoe.

The Hamiltons said they called police and when an officer finally arrived, he wasn't sympathetic.

They said the officer asked them what they wanted him to do about the spray paint before pointing out that "I have a community to protect."

Isn't that scary? Doesn't that say it all? No wonder nobody has been arrested.

That poor gay couple with their home in the country, their shrubs , their lawn furniture and their little pond. Their dream may be this gay boy's nightmare...but nobody had the right to destroy it.

Or chase them out of town like dogs.

Just like nobody has the right to call for gay people to be killed and their blood smeared all over their heads.

While hatred like this goes unchecked and unpunished.

Canada in the Time of the Cons.

It just keeps getting better and better...

--------------------------------------------------------

P.S. Something tells me if I ever see this really bad movie again...I'm going to think of the homophobic zombies of Bothwell Ontario...

34 comments:

  1. Hey Simon,
    A long time ago I had similar experiences in Northern Cape Breton - from tires slashed to fox carcasses in our drinking water: the highlight was when the village father xmas drove by on the village fire engine and yelled 'fucking faggot' at me as he passed our house.
    That being said, I was a tad cautious when we moved here - I thoroughly investigated the village - even questioning people about their attitudes - and have not even have the glimmering of a negative response - less because of my 'investigation', I suspect, than that people are probably more open - in Quebec at least.

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  2. Man, I am so disgusted at the cop and the full-on homophobia at display here. Where are the decent folks of Bothwell? Why aren't they demanding justice and defending this couple's human rights? I'm just floored. This is completely shameful and if it happened here, I'd send the victims to the Quebec Human Rights Commission. Do they have such a thing in Ontario or did Harper and Eaves see to it they don't?

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  3. So much for the notion of freedom in a place like Canada, all the legislation in the world doesn’t legislate ignorance. This is why we have to keep fighting the fight.

    The cons who so desperately want to keep the good old fashioned ways still need to be dealt a dose of reality and reason if they like it or not.

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  4. Anonymous11:21 PM

    "Canada in the Time of the Cons."

    Uh huh, because this sort of thing never happened in the entire 12 years that the Liberals were in power.

    Retard.

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  5. Erin Ashburn Bothwell Ontario Resident5:40 AM

    Well guys, i do appreciate your concern for what has been happening in my little town but as one of the members of bothwell i would like to set the record straight. The two people involved in this story have officially over done it. The aligations of harassment in this article are actually untrue and there is an investigation pending to find out why it was printed in the local news and then syndicated into three other papers in southwestern ontario. the reason the townspeople are upset with ryan and terry has nothing to do with the fact that they were a homosexual couple but because they have harassed the citizens of bothwell for months. After having a conversation with ryan and terry in late august i was convinced that they understood what was happening in town and that they were going to stop picking fights with people and instantly saying "you don't like me because i am gay" .. i'm sorry to all gay people in the world for the things that were done and i wish that they could be fixed but putting a town into the group with one bad apple who did something stupid for attention and group the rest of us into a group of biggots i think that we actually need to get together with the gay community and figure out a way for people like terry and ryan to not make a mockery of them when the truth comes out and these two are finally held accountable for what they have done we need to stand united against harassment of heterosexual and homosexual people the same... just as it isn't right for us to harass you its not right for us to get harassed i do appreciate what has been done in other forums to correct this injustice and i encourage you guys to help us out too its time we did the right thing instead of more wrong things
    Erin - Bothwell Ontario Resident

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  6. Goes to show that this kind of homophobic filth still persists in our peaceful country. One would expect it in Idaho, but Ontario? The police are the ones who need to be called on the carpet for their indifferent response to a hate crime. This is exactly the result of religious bullying and not "agreeing with that lifestyle" horseshit we are treated to regularly.

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  7. Hi Leonard...I can't imagine something similar happening to me...I don't know how I'd react. Probably arrested for beaning that father xmas with a snowball with a stone inside!! :)
    But seriously it really is outrageous to treat your neighbours like that. And I do think that attitudes in Quebec are more tolerant and less violent...
    There's something about the English...booze...and sex...that brings the animal out...

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  8. Hi Scott!! Yeah the attitude of some of the people in that town really bothers me. And those who knew about it but didn't say anything should also be ashamed of themselves. Although to be fair at least a couple of people including the United Church minister did act decently. But I find the police attitude even worse.I hope they do file a complaint. But I wouldn't be surprised if they just wanted to forget that nightmare. Who wouldn't?

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  9. Hi Bruce!! You know when I told the story to a couple of my gay friends they said "Well what do you expect...they must be crazy to live in a redneck town like that."
    Which I must admit I can't help but think too.But of course I'm wrong because everyone in Canada should have the right to live where they want. And nobody should attack them just because of who they are.
    What went on in that town was disgusting and un-Canadian...

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  10. Hi anonymous...I didn't say it couldn't happen under a Liberal government. I just meant it as a general comment on the stinky Con times we live in. Although now that I think of it I believe that Harper's cop-loving law and order act has made some cops think they can get away with ANYTHING.
    As for retard...wrong again. I'm so brilliant that on my really sharp days I have to wear shades in case I blind myself. Although only a dummy would think that this Con government is doing a good job instead of a stinky one...and embarrasing Canada all over the world. Not that I'm calling you one...but that's pretty DUMMY... :)

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  11. Hi Erin...thank you for your comment.
    I will keep an open mind on this story, and if it changes I will report it.
    And I'm certainly not calling everyone in that town a bigot. But I must say after reading what was written...and not seeing anyone challenge their version of what went on I'm dubious.
    For example, I didn't mention it but in the Chatham paper's story it said that the grocer had refused to serve them. Is that true? Did they have their property vandalized? Were they threatened with death? And if not what happened? I also find it hard to believe that a gay couple could harrass an entire town. How does that work? But as I said before I have an open mind...everyone knows I'm fair...so I'll follow this story with interest. I'm willing to let anyone in the town have their say. So keep me informed if you can. But right now you have to admit Bothwell isn't looking too good.

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  12. Hi Waterboy!!! I share your feelings...but as you can see Erin disputes the gay couple's version of events. So I'm going to hold my judgement. Except to say that no matter how obnoxiou anyone is it doesn't give anyone a reason to chase them out of town. That's something I expect to see in Alabama not Canada.
    But let see what happens.
    I promise you and Erin I'll write an update as soon as I can...

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  13. Oh...one more thing Erin...If the police say they don't know who did all the nasty homophobic stuff. But you say it was the work of one "bad apple."
    How come YOU know more than THEY do?
    Just wondering... :)

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  14. Simon,
    I am so totally not into violence - my response to the police in the old SA was to try and reason with them - as they beat the someone to pulp - guess who was next (my white skin saved from the pulp bit) - of course I was out marching to Soweto the next day again...
    I actually still believe that responding to violence with violence doesn't work - even verbally on other people's blogs and such - no reason to pick fights here either (eh Simon) - just ties oneself into knots of stress and doesn't exactly convince anyone to change their opinions.
    As to these two guys - I got the impression from the article that there might be the suggestion of another side to the story but we all have neighbours who are prickly or even whiney - this doesn't make us attack them...
    perhaps they did react over-defensively (the grocery store type situation described) - but as double outsiders - not being from there and also being gay - this'd be understandable: the question remains: why the extremity of reaction by the town?

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  15. Anonymous11:00 AM

    The degree of hatred towards Americans displayed in this comment area is disgusting. How dare you look down your noses at an entire town when you are displaying the exact same shade of ugly contempt towards your government and towards your neighbours?

    Real nice. Take the log out of your eyes.

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  16. Carrie11:58 AM

    Hi All;

    I am a former citizen of Bothwell. I have family still living within it who had never even heard of the Hamiltons before these articles starting surfacing.

    My peace is this: Simon, you question what else happened in the town and that you may not have your entire story. I respect that. But this is where the issue lies. Does anyone actually have the entire story? Does anyone know the entire truth? I ASSUME that when Erin uses the terms 'bad apple' she may be referring to troublemakers in Bothwell. Or someone Bothwell residents ASSUME could be responsible. However, police officers don't arrest on assumption - they arrest under evidence.

    I believe, whole-heartedly, that something needs to be done with whomever drove the fear into these two men. Whether or not they were 'snubbed at a supermarket' or had their property vandalized. Investigation is key, and needs to bring light to an ugly situation so that it is possible to bring justice to an obvious hate crime.

    However, I also feel it sincerely unfair that the entire village of Bothwell has been flagged. There are problems that need to be fixed. This goes without saying. I just have trouble sleeping at night knowing that my parents, my sisters, my neices and nephews are being referred to as 'rednecks'. They are being referred to as 'bigots'. And this also goes towards the rest of the community that would never partake in the vengenful crimes committed. That is like saying since people in Kitchener celebrate Oktoberfest, Kitchener is full of beer drinkers. Stupid, but untrue.

    So please, everyone, keep an open mind. Read every article, read every paper, read every blog and then form an opinion. You never know who you are inadvertently attacking when you don't know the facts. Bothwell is a quiet, loving community with many wonderful people in it. Please respect that.

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  17. Hello all,

    I have been following this thread and do hope that my comments do NOT muddy the waters.

    With the information provided so far it seems that there is agreement that this event(s) should never have occurred (and as Lept wisely points out - provoked or not). Appears that cooler heads prevail as sincere dialogue and the search/wait for more information continues.

    Simon – I have been reading your blog for some time now and have always found you to be fair and open and very set against violence. I applaud you – your willingness to keep an open mind – but this should not surprise me, given your sense of justice.

    If the comments from Erin and Carrie from Bothwell are sincere, and it seems so, then it appears that there are some decent folks (including the United Church Minister) in Bothwell.

    One bad apple does harm the lot (no matter the orientation), and the total number of victims by association, is often never fully know.

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  18. carol3:05 PM

    I can no longer remain silent. I need to address the issue of the Hamiltons claim, that they were refused service at the grocery store.Here's what happened....Terry and Ryan were shopping at the store on Friday October 19 at approximately 3:30 PM. When they approched the cash register there were two people in the line(one lady was paying for her purchase and another had a large cart of groceries on the till)The cashier in question got on the intercom and called for another cashier. The second cashier approched Terry and Ryan and asked if she could help them on the number three till. She proccessed their order and thanked them for shopping there. Does that really sound like refuseal of service? I can tell you all that this is the way events occurred because I was the cashier called to serve them. P.S.-Our policy is to provide all our customers with fast efficient service PERIOD.

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  19. Hi Lept...

    You're right of course...violence plus violence only leads to a bad place. It took me a long time to understand that...and even longer to learn not to....um...pick fights with other blogs...ahem.
    Although would it be OK to throw a regular snowball at that bigoted Father Christmas? ;)
    But seriously though...as you point out.. even if they were prickly neighbours nothing can justify the reaction of some people in that town...

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  20. Hi anonymous...I'm afraid I don't understand why you say that anyone hates Americans. Because I certainly don't. I do hate the Bush-Cheney administration...but I have many friends in the U.S. and relatives too!! And I wouldn't change our neighbours for anything in the world. I did mention Alabama but only in reference to what happened there during the civil rights years...when black Americans were hounded and murdered. If I blamed every country for the actions of an evil few there wouldn't be any good countries...and I know that when Americans act on their best instincts they can be an enormous force for good...

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  21. Hi Carrie...thank you for your comment. It's a good one. And I certainly don't mean to slag the whole town. As I mentioned before... the two people who cleaned the nasty sign of the Hamilton's house are the kind of human beings I really admire. I also appreciate that sometimes things are more complex than they might appear to be.
    But still I think we can agree that something really bad happened in Bothwell.And that it's bothered a lot of people ...particularly gays and lesbians...because as a persecuted minority it can't help make them wonder if the same thing could happen to them. And wonder too whether the police would protect them.
    But the challenge now I believe is to turn something bad into something good. Like putting out a statement saying in Bothwell we hate bigotry and we welcome EVERYONE. I've had to do that in the past...and it's always worked for me!! :)

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  22. Hi Sassy!!! You could NEVER muddy the waters coz your heart's ALWAYS in the right place.
    And you're right when you say there are obviously good people in that place.
    But as you point out some bad apples can hurt the reputation of a place. Especially when people are attacked in their own home. I think EVERYONE can relate to that.
    In this crazy world your home should be your refuge. And if you can't trust the police to protect you who can you trust?
    All I can say is this...if the situation had been reversed and there was a single straight couple living in an all-gay town...and some gays had harrassed them I would pitch my tent in their front yard and tell anyone if they wanted to attack the straights they'd have to attack me first...
    If everybody treated their neighbours like that it would be a better world... :)

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  23. Hi Carol...thanks for writing in. This is great. At this rate I'm going to get to know EVERYONE in Bothwell!!!
    Seriously though... I also appreciate your version of what happened in the grocery store. But what puzzles me is why didn't anyone say that before to the reporters who wrote the articles I read. I also have to say that to be fair I'd have to hear what the Hamiltons had to say about what exactly happened there.
    But as I've said many times I have an open mind...the subtitle on my blog might be a little pompous...but all I've ever tried to do is figure out what is true and good. And what isn't.
    So I will keep following the story...and encourage anybody to speak up and contribute to the discussion...and hopefully the healing. I really do believe that good things come out of bad ones.
    So thanks again for joining in...

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  24. Erin - bothwell resident4:45 PM

    this should help to clear things up for you i really don't have time to write a full explination but i will provide you with some facts about this report that can be used to judge the truthfulness of the situation... 1. the Hamiltons moved in june first 2. there was a meeting on june 3rd between the youngest ryan and a woman who lives in town and is very much an activist for the town itself and a member of almost ever organization in Bothwell... the meeting went paraphrased as follows "hi i;m ryan i just moved into that house (points) and we are a homosexual couple do you think that we should worry about violence or harassment living here?.." the woman replied "of course not i have always noticed that bothwell is a town of people of all walks of life and they are all accpeted in their ways you should have no troubles here with that!".. after chatting a little further and inviting them to get involved with the town beutification commitee as they fouind out the couple were avid gardeners the meeting ended and the womon walked away wondering.. wow that was odd why would anyone move into a town and after living here for three days think that they would be harassed because of their sexual orientation" now i am paraphrasing because i was not there but i do know that i had the conversation with this woman and she was shocked about what she had heard.. i have been doing investigations into this matter and there are several more instances this has come about including the owners of two businesses that were approached within the first week of the hamiltons living in town about if they would serve the couple because they are gay.. now is that somehting most homosexual people would do i don't think so it sounds to me that they were digging 3. the date of the first police call was june 6th made by the hamiltons about their neighbours being too loud the "loud neighbours" were working after hours and ordered some pizza and mixed them self a drink in the back yard of a local business and the people living beside terry and ryan were walking through the alley to visit friends.. there was no loud ness it was 4 people eating pizza and having a beer come on guys 4. between the time that the hamiltons moved in and the time that they left there werer thirty calls to the police made by them and none of these calls had merit when they came to check them out.. they ranged froma cat fight in the back yard to a smouldering barbecue and even a biker gang uptown threatening to kill them (which by the way consisted of my 65 year old grandmother and her 65year old friend her little brother (50) actually somewhat "retarded" and her son and daughter in law (both 37) having a chat in front of the bank one day) 5. the spray paint incident happened on October 16th only two weeks before the hamiltons moved (which was planned before the event happened) tell me they felt threatened before then guys come on nothing happened before then except a couple kids stole their lawn orniments and out them on the roof of the building besonde them give me a break look at the facts .... as for the grocery store incident it happened after all the other things and about a week before they moved... and carol has explained how that one went down thanks babe i thank simon for asking the important questions but here if the facts no one was questioned about the incidents except one man (also somewhat retarded.. sorry but true) and one woman (my grandmother who works in the bothwell newspaper office) had the people of bothwell been further questioned about the problems going on we would have stuck up for what was the truth but no one knew until the paper came out over a month after they ahad moved out... as for the one bad apple thing yeah i actually do know who did it and so do the police because crimestopper was called but the apple in question is a young boy who cannot be named because he is underage any other questions can be asked directally to me on my facebook group "Bothwell--not full of homophobic people we deserve the right to a rebuttal" its hard for me to keep up with all of the forums that are talking about this subject so i am advising people who have something tosay to come to the group and voice your opinion
    Thank You
    Erin Ashburn, Bothwell Resident

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  25. Hi Erin...thanks for this. I appreciate you taking the time and the effort to give your side of the story. What I think I'll do is when I update the story in the next couple of days...I'll include your letter. And answer it at that time. I did promise to give the citizens of Bothwell a chance to tell their side of the story. And although I'm not a saint...I do try to be fair. And I DO keep my promises... :)

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  26. erin bothwell resident2:07 AM

    thank you simon and i appreciate that you are at least making an attempt to look at both sides of the story unlike the woman who wrote the article to begin with in the chatham daily news

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  27. Anonymous6:57 AM

    I just had a comment to the biggots of bothwell do all you drunken stoned inbreed idiets of bothwell feal powerful forcing two inicent gay men out of what i would never call a community. Wear you all have nothing better to do with your boring pethetic lives then to harass gay people. I hope that people really reserch bothwell before ever considering even a drive through such a backwerd town the people in bothwell must not be to bright consedering the town at one time was the size of chatham and they burned it to the size it is today jee do you think the town will even be there in another hundred years i highly dought it.

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  28. It's not hard for me to believe that story, because I grew up in Kapuskasing, Ontario. And I was on the Green Team (recycling); well, one day a big girl on that team asked me out on a date, I said no, then she yelled "Mike is gay! Mike is gay!", as if she went into some kind of homophobic zombie's trance.

    Two guys that had nothing to do with this spat on me and wanted to beat me up but I left with my car.

    The manager did nothing and this happened in the office in front of everyone, a project sponsored by the Ministry of Heritage Canada. How sweet.

    There's more to it, because I also went in the high school in that area, so yeah, homophobia is real, it's more common than you think.

    I've also seen homophobia destroying families through the new tool Facebook (cousins reporting to parents)

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  29. H Mikey !! I'm sorry to hear about what you had to go through because of those retards. I'm a pretty forgiving guy. But homophobia...or any krazy hate for that matter...is really an ugly disease. It's so ridiculous...all that ugly nonsense over who you LOVE? But it hurts a lot of lives. The good news is that more people are doing more to fight bullying and homophobia. But it's still a battle that must be won...

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  30. rob vangoethem4:31 PM

    this has gone on way to long, nobody has even mentioned that there is other gay and lesbian couples that lived here for years and never had a problem. it never acours to people to accually go to the town and see for them selves. no they take the word of two people that that wanted and looked for trouble since they had arrived in this small town. they did alot of things around this town that gay, stright, blue, green they would have been treated the same way. i honestly cant belive that a paper would print something without investigating it first. as far as i am concerned all the papers that printed the story should be charged with slander and be made to print a retraction. thank you
    one pissed off town resident

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  31. simon says-something about the english-booze and sex and they turn into animals-my god man-how can someone that says that criticize anyone for being bigoted.you need to get you head out of your posterior my friend.

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  32. Anonymous2:52 PM

    im from bothwell

    and this is a joke.

    if you even talk on a forum like this in the first place, let alone make it. your a gossip loving hypocrite .. fighting bullies as best as you can? lol, maybe another town would have coped with there attention seeking bull but not us.

    the town was getting very fed up with them trying to plant names on us .. and they come in too our peaceful community and stir up this nonsense?

    maybe the measures were durastic but pft, why take someone elses shit we ahve our own.

    flaunting that your gay is a no no in my books too, act normal, because whats the point of flicking your wrist? to make sure everyone knows your different and throw it in someones face like a little kid wanting attention

    understand? its quite simple.

    BOOTS

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  33. Anonymous1:45 PM

    well said

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  34. Anonymous11:34 PM

    For anonymous above Mikey. If you choose to comment on how unintelligent the people of Bothwell are, you may want to spell your critical message correctly.

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