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Ottawa Mayor, Newly Out, Not Backing Down from Haters

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Aug 23, 2019
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson  (Source:Jim Watson / Facebook)

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson came out of the closet at the age of 58 last week, just in time for that city's Pride celebrations. Since then, he says, he's gotten many supportive messages — but also some that aren't quite so kind.

But Watson hasn't backed down an inch, indicating that he is up to the task of not only owning his authentic truth, but of "standing up to these bullies and pushing back," reported CTV News.

"Social media is an anonymous way to attack people," Watson said.

"You grow a thicker skin when you're in politics like I've been for many years," the mayor added.

As EDGE reported previously, Watson kicked down the closet door in an interview that aired August 17. In the course of doing so, Watson reaffirmed the truth that everyone comes out in their own time — and for some, it can take decades.

"I've been thinking about it for 40 years," Watson told the media, going on to add, "I've known I was gay since I was a teenager,"

Saying it was his hope that LGBTQ youth would see his coming out as proof that living authentically is okay, Watson one on to quip, "Don't be afraid to come out, don't feel rushed, but don't take 40 years either."

Watson addressed an ugly incident that occurred Aug. 17, the day he also came out in print with an op-ed in a local newspaper. A protestor intruded on a drag time story hour in Ottawa, reported media outlets, and began a harangue in which he declared that everyone attending the event - parents and children alike — were doomed to "a lake of fire," evidently for the unimaginable sin of listening to derag artist Adrianna Exposee read from a children's book.

Watson praised his city for how it handled that ketchup burst of hate.

"I think the community responded very well," Watson told the media. "The very next day they had a Pride picnic in a neighborhood called Hintonburg and a lot of people showed up just to ensure that that incident that happened in Bells Corner didn't happen again."

Watson took aim at places in Canada where — much like what's happening in the United States — support for LGBTQ youth is being rolled back in schools.

"I don't think that's helpful at all," the mayor noted.

Watson reiterated the need for sexual minorities to stand up for their right to be included and protected equally.

"There's still discrimination and still hatred in some people's hearts and minds," the mayor said, "and you have to be really aggressive to stand up to that."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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