Jimbo, a contestant from the first season of Canada's Drag Race in 2020, is speaking out after T.Bear's Creamery turned down a Windsor, Ont., woman's request to feature an image of the drag queen on a cake.
Jimbo is the stage name for James Insell. If the London, Ont.-born entertainer could walk into the shop and give one message to store staff, it would be: "Happy Pride."
Insell also said the incident during June Pride Month could serve as an educational moment.
It all started when the woman phoned T-Bear's to order the cake with Jimbo's likeness on it. The store said no, citing concerns over the nature of the photo. The woman said she was offended by the owner's alleged comparisons between drag queens and pedophiles.
Insell said: "This is a great opportunity for this T-Bear person to get their head out of their cake and into what's happening in the world and right now."
T.Bear's Creamery has since posted an apology to its website, saying the store regrets coming off as "offensive or "miscommunicated." It also says it values every person "regardless of background or life choice."
The apology goes on to say it does not permit the use of "sensual" photos on their cakes.
"He's referring to the act of someone dressing in something different than the social norm would be — so he's sensualized a man dressing as a woman," said Insell.
"That's certainly an aspect of drag, but drag is also a part of performance and self-expression and identity."
For Sydney Brouillard-Coyle, Trans Wellness Ontario's education co-ordinator, the cake rejection comes at a time when hate crimes are steadily rising toward marginalized communities.
It's all about educating. It's all about celebrating. - James Insell, who goes by drag queen stage name Jimbo
"It's important that when there's smaller incidents, such as what's happening with T.Bear's, those types of things can't fly under the radar," said Brouillard-Coyle, adding this incident is "one step closer" to an actual hate crime.
"It's those smaller acts of discrimination ... and it's important for us to bring awareness to those. So people are aware that these types of things are happening and how to challenge them when they do happen."
The store's apology, posted to its website, doesn't go far enough to stem the pain that people throughout the LGBTQ+ community are feeling over this incident, said Brouillard-Coyle.
Trans Wellness Ontario has extended an invitation to T-Bear's Creamery to "have a conversation" to better understand the challenges that people in the community face.
"That actual groundwork in order to ensure that harm doesn't happen again is an essential part of their apology," added Brouillard-Coyle.
Insell hopes this situation sparks people to become educated and celebrate all that the LGBTQ+ community has to offer. One positive from this situation is it's prompted so many in the community to stand in solidarity with them, the entertainer added.
"It's all about educating. It's all about celebrating," said Insell. "I'm so proud of everyone that stepped up to say, 'Hey, you're [the store's owner] off the mark here with your thoughts and you got to change your narrative.' So I think it's been awesome."
When asked how the community can move beyond this incident, Insell said people must not be afraid to speak up about instances of discrimination, no matter how big or small it may seem.
"We move forward with love."