APPLETON (NBC 26) — Members of the community are filled with emotion as they protested a homophobic sign placed on a privately-owned building in Appleton Saturday.
Marching down the street, people chanted ‘hate has no home here’ in support of the LGBTQ community.
Some said they felt threatened and upset by the slurs on the sign.
“I’m a queer person in the Fox Cities and having to drive by that sign was awful," said Sommer Loar, Appleton.
“If you see something in the community or something that someone is doing that is wrong you have to stand up for it," said Holly Whitman-Essler, Appleton.
Appleton's mayor, Jake Woodford took to social media posting the following.
He said the sign is constitutionally-protected.
The city also said is has placed its own sign nearby, which reads 'hate has no home here'.
There’s a privately-owned and operated sign in Appleton with some hateful language on it. The sign and the speech are constitutionally-protected, so we put up our own sign nearby: “Hate Has No Home Here”— Jake Woodford (@jakewoodford920) April 16, 2021
Thanks @AppletonPD_WI, @AppletonDPW and Good Company for the collaboration! pic.twitter.com/Bt22Bxj4uw
Jamie Boyce, the owner of the building where that sign was placed, has since taken the slur down.
It was replaced with a sign reading, ‘If you care what you think you are sick’.
Boyce also attended the protest. He said his words were misconstrued.
“I love everyone. In fact I have this rainbow,” Boyce said.
He said he did not mean to offend anyone.
“Even though I picked a poor word and offended people, I was only intending to showcase government and how feckless they are,” Boyce said.
Boyce is also the owner of Kriegers Jewelry in Appleton.
That store took to Facebook and posted the following:
“Accept my apology,” Boyce said to one protestor.
While the owner has apologized, those protesting say they don't believe his words to be sincere.
“When you put something like that on a sign, you cannot say that you did not know that was going to be a problem, and this person has come out and said 'I did not know it was communism.' That word specifically hurts the LGBTQY plus community. It was very, very personal to a lot of people,” Loar said.
LGBTQ members said they hope this protest can bring awareness for those who may not have the same viewpoint.
“You can’t just slap a rainbow bandaid over a wound as deep and profound and damaging as bigotry and homophobia and expect everybody to forget the damage that has been done and expect people to instantly forgive,” said Ellen Magmin.
Here's a list of resources for people in the LGBTQ plus community and their families in Northeast Wisconsin:
- Diverse & Resilient
- PFLAG Appleton
- PFLAG Manitowoc County
- S.A.F.E Group at Youth Go
- Positive Voice