The first thing I noticed as I settled into Pots N Hands were a few tables of blue-haired locals where I expected to see rainbow-clad, LGBTT flag waving individuals.
Although I wasn’t one to fault the town of Morris for the ignorance of a few of its residents, I didn’t expect some of the faces I saw championing the place either – my own prejudice perhaps bearing its ugly profile.
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While some members of the LGBTT community in Winnipeg organized a road trip to Morris to support their community members, the townspeople of Morris who likely strongly objected to the remarks of their fellow townspeople came out in droves as well.
The mishmash of people included a table of presumed lesbians and a couple young children, a table of twenty-something gay men, a table of thirty-something gay men, a couple tables of heterosexual couples who seemed to be taking a stand as well, and some families and a single man who told the owner he felt it was the best restaurant in town.
There were reservation signs on some of the tables, and my girlfriend and I nabbed the last two bar seats available.
It ended up being a great place to observe from – there were two bouquets propped on the bar counter, one of which’s card I snooped. The card read, “Every journey’s end leads to a new beginning” and was signed off by someone from Regina, SK.
The kitchen door was also left wide open, allowing us to see the busy head chef preparing the mountain of orders. This kind of amused me as the infamous quote from George Ifandis was “You don’t know what they’re doing in the kitchen,” when actually, you absolutely can see everything being prepared in the kitchen – unlike in most restaurants.
The food was very homey and comforting – plus, the waitress could reassure us that the chicken wasn’t pumped with hormones, and they even had a lovely local mineral water made in another small town in Manitoba. A nice pa and pa’s restaurant with a conscience.
Another thing that added perspective for me was fairly obvious, but being visual I hadn’t considered it yet. Before my dining experience, I just had this vague concept of two men trying to run a business in a new town, and being driven out by homophobia. But, naturally, these men had employees, employees from the town of Morris, who they had built relationships with and worked alongside for months. And the men clearly had many good relationships with clientele, which was nice to witness as well. It gave a much clearer, more balanced depiction of the support and the backlash that they experienced.
In the end, I am left with not a completely sour taste in my mouth, especially not for the town of Morris and the support I witnessed, but gratitude. I am thankful that these men were brave enough to share their story, because even though they didn’t want to paint the town in a bad light, it gave an important look into homophobia experienced by two grown men and business owners in Manitoba. Sometimes we like to think that the battle is won when teenagers grow up and think that they will just magically no longer experience bullying. But seeing a business that was well run by competent and likeable adults be defeated by bullies is a reminder that homophobia is still rampant and knows no barriers.
I am left with the hope that the town of Morris will take a proactive approach to combating any homophobia that may stew in the pockets of its town, and use this scenario as a teaching tool for its youth.
Plus the hope that Pots N Hands will find a cozy new home for their great little diner. (Cough, Winnipeg already loves you.)
Brenlee Coates is a writer and costume assistant on movies. She is also a proud member of the LGBTT community and a total food enthusiast.