COLOURS OF THE RAIN­BOW

Summerside cou­ple con­tin­ues suc­cess­ful rain­bow cam­paign to en­cour­age ac­cep­tance

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MILLICENT MCKAY millicent.mckay@jour­nalpioneer.com

Summerside cou­ple con­tin­ues suc­cess­ful cam­paign to en­cour­age ac­cep­tance

Meaghan Roberts pulls the ban­dana over her face. Her hus­band, An­drew Birch, hold­ing the can­vas is in po­si­tion and has his mask se­cured.

The cap snaps off the can and red mist sprays onto a rec­tan­gu­lar strip of ce­ment.

An­other rain­bow been has started.

“This isn’t in re­sponse to some­thing. It was in­spired by what we saw go­ing on in our com­mu­nity,” said Birch.

For the past week, the duo has been trav­el­ling around Summerside spray-paint­ing rainbows on the doorsteps of home­own­ers who want to show sup­port for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity and in­spire sup­port for ac­cep­tance and love within the city.

Their ini­tia­tive came shortly af­ter an on­line spar­ring match be­tween Pride sup­port­ers and those op­posed on Face­book.

“I was re­ally up­set when I saw what was be­ing said by peo­ple in and out­side of our com­mu­nity. But, An­drew said in­stead of be­ing an­gry about it why don’t we do some­thing about it. We wanted to do some­thing peace­ful and won­der­ful.

“To me it doesn’t just have to be about the Pride com­mu­nity. It’s show­ing others where the peo­ple in Summerside stand on in­tol­er­ance, love and ac­cep­tance. It’s about pro­vid­ing safe spa­ces for all peo­ple to be. Af­ter all, rainbows are for every­one,” said Roberts.

Yes­ter­day, the two were out late spray-paint­ing in the dark so they could com­plete their list of rainbows for the day.

So far, they’ve gone through 15 cans of paint, painted about 50 rainbows and are sched­uled for at least an­other 50 in the next

“I was re­ally up­set when I saw what was be­ing said by peo­ple in and out­side of our com­mu­nity. But, An­drew said in­stead of be­ing an­gry about it why don’t we do some­thing about it. We wanted to do some­thing peace­ful and won­der­ful.” Meaghan Roberts

three days.

Roberts and Birch never thought their project would reach this scope.

“When I put it on Face­book that I bought some spray paint, I was wor­ried we were go­ing to have lots left over. But that’s not the case, there has been an over­whelm­ing re­sponse,” said Birch.

Birch said see­ing the rainbows around the city re­minds him of when the Neigh­bour­hood Watch signs filled his com­mu­nity as a young boy.

“It gives me that feel­ing that if I were in trou­ble I could go to that house and no mat­ter what I am, gay or straight, and they would help me and stand by me. It’s sup­port­ing every­one in our com­mu­nity.”

Roberts said the ac­tion pro­vided a voice for the voice­less.

“There are a num­ber of peo­ple who might feel voice­less or seg­re­gated or alone. But these rainbows show that every­one is wel­come in this com­mu­nity.

“Any­body can make a dif­fer­ence. Kind­ness is in all of our grasps. We all have the power to make pos­i­tive change in this world.”

Roberts and Birch say their ef­forts re­mind them of their par­ents.

“My mom al­ways told me when I was lit­tle, ‘all it takes for evil to flour­ish is for a good man to do noth­ing’.”

Chris­tine Lykow was walk­ing on the side­walk when she saw Roberts and Birch paint­ing a rain­bow.

“What they’re do­ing is in­cred­i­ble. It’s so im­por­tant for peo­ple to speak out and raise their voice. I’m all for what they’ve got go­ing on.

“I’ve al­ways told my son, you don’t have to like every­one, but you will have to co-ex­ist.’ That rain­bow, to me, is a sign of co­ex­is­tence.”

MILLICENT MCKAY/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

An­drew Birch, left, and Meaghan Roberts are shown with their fin­ished rain­bow on the porch step of a Summerside home. The duo has been spray­paint­ing rainbows on porches and drive­ways to en­cour­age ac­cep­tance in Summerside.

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