Armstrong business owner trolled online after Kelowna City Park beach incident
An Armstrong business owner said she’s being trolled online after addressing a same-sex couple on a popular Kelowna beach for allegedly behaving inappropriately.
Jaimie Wlasenko runs a hair salon in Armstrong. She was at Kelowna’s City Park a couple of weeks ago with her daughter and niece.
She said her daughter told her two women were carrying out inappropriate sexual acts on the beach, so she confronted them after witnessing it.
Since sharing her story, Wlasenko said her business has been flooded with harassing comments and negative reviews from people she doesn’t know.
“They’re saying that I’m a backwater hick from Armstrong, and that we’re all homophobic, that I’m homophobic and transphobic, and that’s hurtful because I’m open to everything and everybody,” Wlasenko said.
Wlasenko added that her 16-year-old daughter, who is the one who initially noticed the women’s behaviour, is bisexual.
At the time of the incident, more people at the beach became involved in criticizing the women’s allegedly lewd behaviour. However, police would not respond, telling the group that going topless is not against the law in Kelowna, Wlasenko said.
Since going public with her story, the business owner said she’s also had people show up at her house.
“I had three people in a truck come to my home,” Wlasenko said. “And they waited until I got to my truck and then came out and told me that I was a homophobic, that I could stay in Armstrong.”
Wlasenko said that’s not the case, and she regularly works with and supports the LGBTQ2 community.
“Calling me a homophobic, a transphobic — if they knew me, I’m the least of those,” she said.
“I have a safety rainbow on my business showing you’re safe here.”
The Vancouver couple in question, Elsi Dawson and Clementine Smithereens, said they were upset to hear the harassment Wlasenko has since faced.
“That is not something we would ever want,” Smithereens said.
The women said they were only kissing on the beach, and although they took off their shirts, it’s completely legal in Kelowna.
“As soon as the first article went up, it became very clear how to find her business and that was something that we sat and discussed,” Dawson said. “We had said we have to make sure that our groups in our community don’t engage in any harassment.”
Wlasenko says Facebook has been helpful in deleting harassing comments and restoring her business’s ratings, but she’s hoping people will listen to both sides of the story and show more respect.