Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson comes out as gay in moving op-ed

Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, Canada has come out as gay.

In an emotional op-ed published by the Ottawa Citizen, the 58-year-old opened up about the struggles he has faced with coming to terms with his sexuality, from being bullied at school to finding it difficult to confide in friends due to his family moving around a lot because of his father’s job.

“As I look back over the years, there were some telltale signs that I wasn’t straight,” he wrote, candidly. “As a grade 7 student, I remember some older boys on my school bus always taunting me and calling me ‘Jim Fairy.’

“Growing up, I was always much more attracted to male TV and movie stars, such as Rob Lowe and Brad Pitt, rather than Julia Roberts or Sharon Stone.”

Watson goes on in the piece to say that as a closeted teenager in the 1970s, it was near impossible to meet anyone within the LGBTQ+ community which resulted in him being “very shy and a bit of a loner.”

He recalled how things seemed much more liberal during his time spend studying at Carleton University but he was still reluctant to come out, and after he graduated his concern regarding his love life became secondary to his passion for politics.

While he’s proud of his career, though – particularly his “track record on LGBTQ issues, from voting in favour of a motion on same-sex marriage to being the first Ottawa mayor to march in the Pride Parade [along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] during my first term” – the Canadian regrets not coming out sooner.

“Don’t feel pressured or rushed to come out, but don’t wait 40 years either.”

“As I look back over my life, and in hindsight, [it] was a big mistake on my part,” Watson continued. “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.

“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.

“But 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. So there it is, my coming out story, 40 years in the making.”

Earlier today, Watson took to Twitter to say that he is “overwhelmed” by the “kind and thoughtful messages” he received since the piece went live.

“Thank you for making this day so meaningful and memorable,” he concluded.