The owner of Twisted Element, a gay bar in Calgary’s beltline, says the recent theft of a pride flag from outside his business is just the latest in a stream of suspected hate crimes targeting the nightclub.

Bar owner R.J. Fafard says Thursday morning’s removal of the flag was captured by a surveillance camera outside of the club in the 1000 block of 11 Avenue Southwest. He believes the footage of the suspect, whose face is concealed by a balaclava, indicates the thief’s sinister intent.

“You can just see him wailing on it and he's trying to get it off,” says Fafard while reviewing the recording. “You’re going out at four in the morning and you’re climbing on garbage to get a specific thing? That, to me, is a hate crime.”

In his 11 years of owning Twisted Element, currently the only gay nightclub in Calgary, Fafard’s business has been vandalized on a number of occasions.

There are days you get a little tired and you get a little fed up,” admits Fafard, “but I'm not at that point yet where I'm ready to throw in the towel.”

Fafard says hate crimes against his business and its clientele have included:

  • A brick thrown through the nightclub’s window
  • Bar patrons shot with paintballs
  • Death threats
  • The throwing of white powder at the club’s doors prompting a visit from the HazMat team

Members of Calgary’s LGBTQ community have faced harassment and vandalism, but, in recent years, attacks have become less violent and less frequent/

Historian Tereasa Maillie questions if the theft of the Twisted Element pride flag was a frustrated reaction by the perpetrator to recent gay rights progress

“Is this an extreme reaction to the fact that more and more people in the LGBTQ community are being seen as human beings?,” asks Maillie.

Fafard says the actions of the thief will not deter his willingness to raise the rainbow pride flag, and he plans to place five new flags where the stolen flag had been.

“Flags are for sale,” says Fafard. “I can buy as many as you can rip down.”

Fafard says police are aware of the theft and are investigating.

With files from CTV's Scott McLean