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Ky. community supports openly gay business owner after experiencing hateful comments

If you follow the trail of colorful bow ties, they’ll eventually lead you into Mason on Main in Winchester, owned by Mason Rhodus.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - If you follow the trail of colorful bow ties, they’ll eventually lead you into Mason on Main in Winchester, owned by Mason Rhodus.

“Mason is Winchester. He’s what a lot of people stand for,” said JP Martin with Whiskey and Wiles Photography.

But on Saturday, Rhodus was met with hatred. He said people entered his store, telling him that God doesn’t love him because he’s gay.

“Of just the few negatives, that one hurt me the most. I’m a Christian. And I believe in following the teaching of Christ. And I know that’s not true,” Rhodus said.

This isn’t the first time Rhodus has gotten comments like this, but it was the first time he spoke out publicly against the hate. It’s an action that’s been met by more love than he could have expected.

“We don’t have the same beliefs and we may not agree on everything, but he’s a good person. My thought is you love people for who they are regardless,” Martin said.

Martin is just one of many downtown business owners who have shown support over the years, and after Saturday’s events, there’s been an outpouring of more support than ever before.

Last year, Rhodus was the only one with a Pride flag hanging outside. Now, you see the flags flying outside most downtown businesses.

“I’ve received countless private messages of parents here in town with children who are struggling, they are struggling here in town to be themselves,” Rhodus said. “To hear their comments, it’s just like wow. My hometown. Look what they’re doing because they’ve never seen that before.”

Rhodus said he hopes young people see the love and support outweighing the negativity and hatred.

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