Jim Watson explained that for most of his public life his "sexuality was not an issue," however, "in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake"
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has come out as gay.
“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 politician wrote in an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen that was published on Saturday.
Watson, who was elected to Ottawa City Council when he was 30, explained that for most of his public life his “sexuality was not an issue,” however, “in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake.”
The 58-year-old mayor also announced the news on Twitter, urging his residents and fans to read his op-ed, adding the hashtag #Pride.
“As I look back over my life, and in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake on my part,” he wrote in the op-ed. “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. 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.”
Watson concluded, “If I can be so bold as to offer one bit of advice to those still in the closet: Don’t feel pressured or rushed to come out, 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.”
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau responded to Watson’s announcement on Twitter, commending his courage.
“Brave words that I’m sure will inspire Ottawans – and all Canadians – to feel free to be themselves,” Trudeau tweeted. “Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jim.”
This isn’t the first time that Trudeau has supported the LGBT community in Canada.
In November 2017, he took steps to mend the nation’s previously fractured relationship with its own LGBT community.
In the House of Commons, he issued a lengthy, formal apology to gay Canadians who’d been fired from their jobs and the military during the Cold War.
Trudeau, who teared up as he spoke, also proposed a bill that would let courts expunge the records of people charged with crimes due to their sexuality and urged modern Canada to adopt “forward-thinking and progressive” ideals.