Degas Sikorski of Edmonton, Canada had a shift scheduled at a local Party City on Valentine's Day. He was working part-time while he put himself through college, but he hadn't worked a shift there for more than a month.
When Sikorski arrived, a co-worker gave him a valentine on a paper plate with hearts drawn on it. The valentine reportedly featured a message — "You are not getting shifts for a reason" — that included a gay slur.
Sikorski left his part-time job after receiving the insensitive valentine, and Party City released a statement that it did not condone note. However, according to Sikorski's Facebook page, the company never apologized directly to him as of February 28.
His mother, Shelley Bramhoff Sikorski, posted the hurtful valentine on Facebook and it received tremendous support as it went viral. One of the many supporters was Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonault, who is openly gay.
Having experienced discrimination himself, Boissonault wanted to help make things right by giving him a valentine that he could be proud of. The member of paliament enlisted the support of several Canadian leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"I explained what was going on to the prime minister and he said, 'Well, that doesn't sound very nice, let's write this young man a message.' So we went into his office and he signed a beautiful message to Degas," Boissonault told CBC News.
On Saturday during a special brunch, Boissonault delivered to Sikorski the photos and the card signed by the leaders, including Trudeau.
"Dear Degas, know that your friends outnumber the haters by the millions and I'm one of those friends," Trudeau wrote.
"It just took all the words out of my mouth," Sikorski told CBC News. "It was hard not to cry at the moment when I saw that somebody who I see as above me and almost godly in my eyes, as you're taught in high school, is giving me a personal message."
Sikorski couldn't hold back the tears as he hugged Boissonault.
"It's important for people in positions of authority to stick up and remind people what is right," Boissonault told CBC News. "Here (we are) reaching out to say that we have his back. And bullying like that, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments, are just not tolerated."
Cover image via Art Babych / Shutterstock.