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Mayor of Canada's Capital Comes Out as Gay in Emotional Op-Ed

Watson (second from left)

Mayor Jim Watson, 58, says he regrets not coming out sooner.

The mayor of Ottawa, Canada's capital, came out in an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen this weekend.

Jim Watson is now Ottawa's first openly gay mayor.

"I'm gay," Watson writes. "There - I said it; or rather, wrote it. Those two words took me almost four decades to utter, but as they say, 'Better late than never.'"

The mayor, who previously served as a city councillor and on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, describes a childhood where he knew he wasn't straight, but lacked a support system to come out.

"And throughout high school, I honestly can't recall meeting or befriending one openly gay student," wrote Watson, 58.

Watson noted the growing acceptance of LGBTQ lives in the 2000s, but still encountered homophobia. The mayor described how an antigay constituent once asked him in a 2003 city council meeting whether he was gay, but the question was criticized and deflected by another councilmember. Other constituents criticized him for flying a Pride flag at City Hall in 2014, while another one asked if he would be attending the "fag parade."

"I told him: 'I'm looking forward to marching in the Pride Parade, and I plan on doing so again, so why don't you join me?'"

Watson expressed regret at not coming out sooner, watching out LGBTQ friends prosper at work and in relationships: "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."

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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