It's never too late to break out of the closet.
A Canadian mayor has just come out as gay in a touching op-ed for Ottawa Citizen.
Jim Watson has been Ottawa’s mayor since 2010, and has been serving as an elected official for almost 30 years. But during that time, he says, the topic of his sexuality only ever came up once. So he kept it to himself.
“Over the years, I told only two (gay) friends that I was gay, although I suspect most of my family and friends just assumed I was, but respected my privacy and never broached the subject,” he wrote.
In the op-ed, Watson shares how deeply closeted he was when he was younger, even to himself. He doesn’t specify when exactly he realized he was gay, but says that he regrets not coming out publicly sooner.
“Most of my friends through the years got married and had kids, and they travelled down a separate road filled with family, soccer practices and their careers,” he said. “Most of my friends who are gay are quite open about it, and many are in wonderful relationships or, in several cases, married."
“That leaves someone like me, who, while closeted, doesn’t fit either of these groups.”
The decision to finally come out as gay at 58 years old is one that he says he’s considered for some time now. He points to two homophobic moments as helping him reach this point: one, an interaction with someone on Twitter in 2014 who said they would no longer vote for him when Ottawa flew the rainbow flag during the Russian Olympics, and two, an interaction with a constituent at Confederation Park.
“I hope you’re not going to that fag parade,” Watson recalls a man asking him while he sat in the park eating lunch.
“I’m looking forward to marching in the Pride Parade, and I plan on doing so again, so why don’t you join me?” he responded.
More than anything, Watson seems to be coming out now to plead with younger LGBTQ people to not make the same mistake he feels he made.
“Don’t feel pressured or rushed to come out,” he writes, “but don’t wait 40 years either.”
“My reluctance has not allowed me to live my life as full of love and adventure as my gay friends who were bolder and braver than I ever was.”0
Ottawa Mayor Comes Out, Pleads With Others: 'Don't Wait 40 Years'0