News | Religion | Toronto

Gay Toronto Couple Speaks Out, Says Church Group Driven Out of Neighborhood Was Not Targeting Them


The Toronto Star does a follow-up on the video that I posted on Monday that was described as a group of Toronto residents driving out a church group that had been targeting a gay couple by praying in front of their house.

Now, the gay couple, distressed by the publicity, says they were not being targeted.

Said Blair Chiasson, a civil servant who lives with his partner, Paul Collins, to the Toronto Star:

"I don’t like how the whole issue is being distorted. Nothing happened. Nothing happened. I just want this to stop. Stop discussing it. Stop talking about it. It’s really kind of spiralling out of control."

Parishioner Geoffrey Skelding, the videographer and also a resident on the street, had written this description under the  clip:

"This is a group from a church at the end of my street. Apparently they have been grouping in front of a gay couple's house and reading their bible loudly for the past 7 years. They may have also driven a lesbian couple from the area as well by doing the same thing. Tonight most of our neighbours came out and were successful in getting them to leave. The people who go to that church don't even live in our area! Police came by shortly thereafter."

Chiasson and Collins tell The Star a different story:

"To Chiasson, however, they are the unthreatening 'church people' — and they did not do anything wrong. Chiasson, 45, said he believes Highfield parishioners only choose to read the Bible from a spot near their house because a fire hydrant prevents cars from parking there. He said the parishioners preached on the street long before he and Collins, 47, arrived 13 years ago. Moreover, he said, he and Collins have never felt personally targeted by the parishioners, have never heard them say anything homophobic, and have not even been present for three years on the summer Sundays when the infrequent sermons occur. He said the parishioners are 'a part of the neighbourhood' with the right to speak freely. The neighbours who confronted them, he said, 'overreacted.' ... 'We don’t even know the people that started this,' he said. 'So the people who are apparently our defenders, we don’t even know who they are.'"

Yet another neighbor disagrees:

"Jane Farrow, executive director of Jane’s Walk and a Highfield resident, said neighbours have told her the parishioners have also preached outside the home of a lesbian couple on nearby Kerr Rd. She and Skelding both said they knew of heterosexual neighbours whom aggressive door-knocking parishioners have called sinners for living with partners outside of marriage. 'It goes beyond spreading the word of God. It’s righteous, it’s rude, it’s bigoted — and there’s no room for it on Highfield,' Farrow said."

Watch the clip again, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Stay Classy Toronto Gays!

    Posted by: Fenrox | Aug 25, 2010 12:52:07 PM

  2. ohmygod...things are so confusing sometimes.

    Posted by: Danny | Aug 25, 2010 12:54:40 PM

  3. let me get this straight. this group has been praying to get rid of the hydrant for over 13 years. yes, that makes all sorts of sense.

    Posted by: nic | Aug 25, 2010 1:04:31 PM

  4. Those two queens are just being cowards!

    Sure sweetie, just let the crazy religious nuts continue to intimidate you in front of your own house. I'm sure if you continue to hide under your duvet it will all go away.

    Posted by: StandUp | Aug 25, 2010 1:05:19 PM

  5. confusing? The only think confusing "sometimes" is the stupidity, failings and cowardice of others. There's very little room in the world for spineless people...even less so for spineless lgbt'ers. Overreacted? Oh, the fear of god should be put in these snivelling faggots...heterosexuals came to their defense...and they scold them? Who knew that you became less of a man as you age. Well, in their case, that goes without saying. The failure of principle belies that they have none.

    Posted by: TANK | Aug 25, 2010 1:07:40 PM

  6. They don't necessarily have to be targetting the couple - religions are hate speech wherever they're practised.

    Posted by: dreamfish | Aug 25, 2010 1:09:54 PM

  7. wow! these two are such cowards! I feel sorry for them, no wonder the bible thumpers were targeting you - you're weak!

    You should be ashamed that you are not more thankful for your neighbors standing up for you, whether or not you know them.


    Posted by: Ben | Aug 25, 2010 1:13:36 PM

  8. Some gays need lack a spine. Every time these evangelicals knock at my door I call the police on them, why do we have to be tolerant of their intolerance? fuck that.

    Posted by: ♂ | Aug 25, 2010 1:27:11 PM

  9. I live in Toronto and entirely disagree with Mr. Chiasson's assertions that they weren't targeted. In fact, one of his neighbours stated that a lesbian moved away because of the mid-day sermons. When confronted by vocal bigots, some gay men and women want the issue to just go away and pretend that homophobia does not exist. With that said, these 'church' people should not be quoting the Bible chapter and verse in the middle of the street instead keep it behind the closed doors of your church.

    Posted by: Robin | Aug 25, 2010 1:30:17 PM

  10. I aint taking crap from no-one...if Buy-bull thumpers come to my door....they will in no uncertain terms be told where to go and how to get there,and what to stuff.

    Posted by: Disgusted Gay American | Aug 25, 2010 1:30:46 PM

  11. This is utterly revolting. If you don't stand up for your rights then who will? Oh wait apparently your neighbours. These dudes have it all and they just don't seem to care, grow some balls please.

    Posted by: Ashur | Aug 25, 2010 1:36:10 PM

  12. So... In the great words of Emily Latella... "Never Mind...."

    Posted by: Dave | Aug 25, 2010 1:44:22 PM

  13. Can anyone say cognitive dissonance? Most of you are all up in arms to support the religious freedom of Muslims to pray wherever they want, but when it comes to Christians they're monsters to be driven back to hell. Don't get me wrong, I think anyone who believes in any fairy tale religion needs to have their head examined, muslim or christian, but you knee jerk queens really need to get your story straight. Sheesh.

    Posted by: gaylib | Aug 25, 2010 1:45:33 PM

  14. Good god!!!!! I watched the vid!!!! These homos are so ungrateful!!! No wonder our civil rights are being trampled upon!!!! If I told this to my straight neighbours after they valiantly stood up for me, I think the only thing to do at that point would be move to Utah.

    Posted by: Ashur | Aug 25, 2010 1:46:35 PM

  15. IT IS WRONG!! No group of any kind has the right to preach anything on anyone elses street..Keep it in their own f**king parish and preach to people who like to hear that b. s.!
    I am so f**king tired of religion. And the people who believe in that fairy tale.

    Posted by: mnrocko | Aug 25, 2010 1:47:16 PM

  16. Gaylib. You're wrong! American Muslims condemn homosexuality as much as American Christians. I am Muslim and a big flaming queen. And everybody in my community loves me.

    Posted by: Ashur | Aug 25, 2010 1:49:37 PM

  17. so the neighbors come out to help - and the scared gays throw them under the bus

    this is why people mind their own business

    Posted by: Walter T | Aug 25, 2010 1:50:28 PM

  18. Ashur, I would respond, but I have no idea what you're saying.

    Posted by: gaylib | Aug 25, 2010 1:52:12 PM

  19. So wait, the church people say they've only been trying to chase the gays away for 7 years but the gays claim that they've been doing it for more than 13 years?

    Assuming I was straight and lived in a neighborhood where people stood on the sidewalk and preached loudly... I'd not be happy with them being there either.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 25, 2010 1:53:15 PM

  20. "Gaylib. You're wrong! American Muslims condemn homosexuality as much as American Christians."

    In other words, an extremely thin minority of them support gay rights. Muslims worldwide, and including muslims in the united states, are like christians in that regard...only very very very small margins are not virulently homophobic. The distinguishing characteristic is that most muslims worldwide think that homosexuality should not only be illegal, but punishable by prison and/or death.

    "I am Muslim and a big flaming queen. And everybody in my community loves me."

    Except most of them. Oh, you define your "community" as only people who accept you. It's offensive when religionists lie about their the demographics of their favored mythology.

    Posted by: TANK | Aug 25, 2010 1:55:15 PM

  21. Wow, great way to throw the people who came to your defense under the bus. Whether you felt you were being targeted or not, your neighbors felt that you were and came to defend you. In response you attack them and sing the praises of the people that invaded your neighborhood.

    Message to straights who might consider coming to the defense of gay people, DON'T DARE! Not only will you not be thanked, but you will be made out to look like hysterical haters.

    Gaylib, if you don't see a difference between minding your own business on COMMERCIAL PROPERTY in lower Manhattan and invading a residential neighborhood to loudly harass the residents in their homes from the street, then you are too stupid to bother explaining the difference to.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 25, 2010 1:55:33 PM

  22. Gaylib, these people are preaching loudly on public property with the intent to harass/convert. The Muslims at the mosque going up not anywhere near ground zero want to do so on their own private property after following the letter and intent of the laws.

    Night and day.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 25, 2010 1:59:21 PM

  23. Gaylib,
    As usual you're trying to compare apples to oranges. At least the Muslims you're referring to would be praying inside their own community center on private property. These nut jobs are out in the street in a small neighborhood disturbing the peace specifically targeting someone in their own home. Nice try though.

    Posted by: ReallyGAYLIB | Aug 25, 2010 2:03:24 PM

  24. gaylib. People have a right to practice any religion. I will fight tooth and nail to preserve Islam, and Christianity. The point is, however, nobody wants to be told they are wrong, ie don't preach on my damn street corner. The way to show these religious zealots that they are wrong, is by befriending them and showing them thay islam or christianity is not incompatible with being gay. And hinting to them that all fervently antigays are themselves gay. Honestly, most Muslims understand many of the laws aren't relevant now, and point out that you are only acting ina way that god programmed you.

    Posted by: Ashur | Aug 25, 2010 2:03:38 PM

  25. Tampa, so you're all for freedom of religion, but not freedom of speech? Seems like a pretty stupid stance to take for a member of an oppressed minority. I guess, then, that you agree with the Mormons who don't want people to know who donated to prop 8 because it will lead to their "harassment". Personally, I think that all religion is an abomination, but you can't pick and choose those that don't offend you to defend (and for the life of me I don't know why you queens are defending muslims--see Tank's comment) but I support the constitution, so Muslims can build whatever they want in NY, and crazy ass Christians can say whatever they want to on a public street, as long as they aren't inciting violence. And the courts agree with me, as does the ACLU. Guess they're stupid too.

    Posted by: gaylib | Aug 25, 2010 2:04:26 PM

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