Canada‘s Wonderland theme park will no longer host Gay Day, following a homophobic incident involving park staff and a gay couple.
According to The Toronto Star, Barrett Morrison and his partner Brandon Hamilton were told by park staff during this year’s Gay Day in June to stop hugging, “because this is a family park.”
“All we were doing was hugging,” Morrison told The Star. “It’s not like we had our hands down each other’s pants. It was just natural touching like any other couple in the park.”
The park’s manager has apparently apologized to the couple and talked to employees about the incident, but the staff member who made the comment has not been identified and therefore not reprimanded.
Wonderland’s 4,000 employees receive “human rights training,” according spokesperson Soulla Lindo. But PFLAG Canada, which has has organized the event the past eight years, says the theme park hasn’t responded to a request for more information about that training, or an offer to provide LGBTQ-specific training to staff.
“I felt that if this could happen then the training wasn’t adequate or trickling down to staff,” PFLAG Canada President Bev Belanger told The Star. “It was pretty disappointing.”
In a statement, PFLAG Canada explained that it has cancelled future Gay Days at the park:
After the incident, nearly a month ago, PFLAG Canada offeredCanada’s Wonderland free diversity training for its staff, which they ignored. PFLAG Canada’s board of directors met and discussed this at length. We felt that no answer was indeed a very strong answer.
“Although we do appreciate the apology the couple received from Wonderland’s GM, we felt like it was a corporate apology with no true intent on embracing diversity and the LGBTQ community.
“Gay Day must be a safe and welcoming space for our LGBTQ family and friends and moving forward, it must be with an organization and venue that truly wants to celebrate and take ownership of Gay Day with PFLAG Canada.”
Morrison and Hamilton said Wonderland doesn’t fit that bill.
“The magic that’s supposed to happen at Canada’s Wonderland was lost to us,” Morrison said.