Canada: Gay theatre group forced to close after homophobic letters and petition
A gay theatre group has been forced to close its doors in Alberta after local residents sent homophobic letters to their landlord, called the police, and started a petition to get the theatre closed.
Theatre Outré, which “aims to explore the fringes of sexual norms and gender expectations”, had recently moved to a new premises, Bordello, in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The Theatre’s owners, Richie Wilcox, Jay Whitehead and Aaron Collier, said in a statement: “It is with great pain and sadness that Theatre Outré announces the closing of Bordello.
“Unfortunately, in the span of just the past few days, ignorant and homophobic neighbouring tenants in the McFarland Building have made it clear in various ways that we are not welcome in their midst.
“Two hateful, hurtful and defamatory emails were sent to our landlord questioning our integrity based on moral grounds and challenging our co-existing alongside their businesses, including an insurance broker and a music school for children.”
According to the theatre, the issues residents raised include “exposure to homosexual lifestyles, ‘transsexual endorsement’, child molestation, rape, indecent exposure and acquiring STDs from the building’s toilets.”
They have also been visited by the police, after complaints made by neighbours.
Dale Reimer, who opposes the theatre, told the Edmonton Sun: “I am not homophobic — I’m rooted in a faith which is Christianity, and to be homophobic would be the wrong approach on my part.”
“To have this theatre situated right next to a children’s music education centre, through an adjoining wall, is not appropriate.”
A neighbour also complained to City Hall that the theatre should be reclassified an ‘adult theatre,’ meaning the venue has to remain closed indefinitely until approved by the city council.
The statement from the theatre group said: “This new definition of our space (which they were previously going to license as a ‘club’ with zero red tape) came about after the Mayor’s Office was notified and city hall employees visited our website. At Theatre Outré, we don’t know what the label ‘adult theatre’ means in respect to the work that we do.”