It was just a small rainbow flag displayed at the counter of a local salad bar, but it was enough to set one passer-by off.
Upset by the pride flag at Smol Singapore’s Lau Pa Sat outlet, a man allegedly verbally abused the salad bar’s staff and threw the flag at one of them yesterday afternoon (Jan 19), owner Charmaine said on Facebook and Instagram. She also said that multiple police reports were lodged on their behalf.
In the surveillance footage she shared, the man was shown walking past the salad bar before stopping and doing a double take.
He then walked up to the counter, pointing at the pride flag.
Following a short exchange with a staff member, he walked away.
But that wasn’t the end of it — after taking a few steps, he doubled back to speak to the same staff member and appeared to be getting increasingly agitated.
Then, he grabbed the flag from the counter, throwing it straight at the staff member before stalking off.
Describing the man’s actions as “homophobic abuse”, Charmaine said that he had told the employee, “Do you know that this is a public food court? Not everybody support [sic] LGBT! How can you put this flag?”
The two employees present at the store were stunned, she recounted.
The man then allegedly said, “You are the kind of people [sic] who is destroying Singapore! Go to hell!”
Charmaine also went on to explain that she had chosen to display the flag at the outlet as a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ community and said she wanted to use her business “as a platform to amplify the voices of those who are not heard”.
“While I am concerned about the safety of my team, we will not stop displaying our little pride flag at both our outlets (Lau Pa Sat and Paya Lebar Quarter) as a way to support the community, and we urge other homegrown small and medium-sized enterprises to show their support for the LGBTQ community in their own ways,” she added.
The video, which has been viewed over 86,000 times on Instagram and shared over 700 times on Facebook at the time of writing, was met with a swell of support and positive comments from netizens.
One said, “Thank you for displaying the pride flag. It’s awful that this happened but what you’ve written in this post shows how much moral courage you have.”
“Good thing is, if this didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have known about this store. Looking forward to having a bite here soon,” another wrote.
In an update posted today (Jan 19), Charmaine said she was “truly heartened and humbled” by the support, adding that Smol’s Lau Pa Sat outlet even “sold out early”.
She also appealed for netizens to refrain from doxxing the man and to “let the authorities do their job”.
This is certainly not the first time that support for the LBGTQ community here has been met with pushback.
In November last year, a GrabHitch driver was suspended after telling a rider that their profile picture, which featured a Ready 4 Repeal banner in support of repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code was “pushing [their] agenda aggressively and tearing this country apart”.
However, the driver insisted that his messages to the rider were “not in any way abusive” and said he was against “activists pushing their ideals onto us in public spaces.”
This article has been edited for clarity.