The mayor of Ottawa, Canada has come out as gay.
The 58-year-old politician named Jim Watson came out through an essay in the Ottawa Citizen. In the letter, Watson write that it has taken him four decades to share his truth, but “Better late than never.”
The mayor then recites how his turbulent childhood of constant moving because of his father’s job and general shyness prevented him from exploring social situations and discovering/exploring his sexual orientation earlier.
Then the mayor explains that taking a job in politics made it so his sexual orientation was always an afterthought. That is, until one fateful day.
“I was elected to Ottawa City Council when I was 30, and for most of my public life, my sexuality was not an issue. It came up just once at an all-candidates meeting.”
“I was running for the provincial legislature in 2003 and a known homophobic activist stood up and asked me if I was gay. There were jeers and shouts, and before I could answer, my NDP opponent snapped at the questioner and told them that anyone’s sexual preference had nothing to do with being a good MPP.”
“To this day, I’m not sure how I would have answered that question, but I am grateful to the NDP’s Marlene Rivier for her gutsy intervention.”
— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) August 17, 2019
Then in his personal life, Watson states that he has multiple gay friends who are happily out, married, and/or with kids. But Watson says he’s only come out to two of these friends and his sexual orientation was almost never discussed with friends and family.
“Although I suspect most of my family and friends just assumed I was,” the politician confesses, “but respected my privacy and never broached the subject.”
Despite this, the mayor knew he had to support LGBTQ initiatives whenever they showed up on his desk. And he knew that his time to come out would eventually come. And come it did with this open letter to his town and the world as a whole. But through all those experiences in his life, Mayor Watson still says that people should come out at their own pace.
Don’t feel pressured or rushed to come out, but don’t wait 40 years either.
Sources: Ottawa Citizen