The mayor of Ottawa revealed Saturday that he is gay, an announcement that comes on the eve of gay pride week in the Canadian capital city.
“I’m 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,’” Jim Watson wrote in a letter published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.
The 58-year-old, who has served as the city’s mayor since 2010, recalled being a shy teen who moved and changed schools frequently, which prevented him from making friends.
It was the 1970s, a time when “there were virtually no resources to seek for guidance or help, or just to talk”.
After graduating from university, Watson said he threw himself into his work. A provincial MP from 2003 to 2010, he also served as city councillor and provincial cabinet minister.
“As I look back over my life, and in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake on my part,” he wrote.
“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.”
He urged gay people who are in the closet not to feel rushed to come out – “but don’t wait 40 years either”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Watson’s “brave words,” saying they would “inspire Ottawans – and all Canadians – to feel free to be themselves.”
Ottawa’s week-long Capital Pride event is set to begin this Sunday, celebrating the area’s LGBTQ community.