"This is my first day as an openly gay man", Mayor Jim Watson comes out as gay
After nearly 40 years, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has officially come out as gay.
"I've known I was gay since I was a teenager," said Watson.
"It's something I've struggled with for a long time."
Watson, who made the announcement of the eve of the annual Capital Pride festival, tells CTV News, it was the right thing to do.
“I should have done it decades ago,” said Watson
“I’ve had people shout out at me, ‘come out of the closet Jim’, and I pretended like I didn’t hear them and waved back, but I thought, ‘What am I holding back?’”
Growing up, Watson says there were telltale signs that he wasn’t straight.
“As you get older you'll start watching television shows and you're more attracted to the male stars over the female stars,” said Watson.
“So I knew when I was 17, 16, something like that.”
When CTV asked why Watson decided to come out now, he said there really is no right time.
“The last couple of years, a couple incidents have taken place that got me thinking why am I still in the closet,” said Watson.
“Some guy comes up to me and says I hope you’re not going to the ‘fag parade’, meaning the pride parade and I said yes I am, why don’t you come and join me’.”
Watson says he his personal life always came second to his career. He was first elected to city council when he was 30, and has spent nearly 30 years in the public eye. The former MPP is now on his third consecutive term as mayor.
“It consumed me, whether I take on a job, political or on-political, I put my heart and soul into it,” said Watson.
“I didn’t have much of a life.”
Watson says he was caught in an awkward bind.
“A lot goes through your mind on what the reaction will be like from the public, family and friends,” said Watson.
“I didn’t really sleep last night, wondering what the reaction was going to be.”
Watson came out in a tweet Saturday morning.
“This is my first day as an openly gay man,” said Watson.
“To a certain degree, a weight was lifted off but it was unchartered course for me.”
Words of acceptance and support began pouring in, as the tweet went viral.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted:
“Brave words that I’m sure will inspire Ottawans – and all Canadians – to feel free to be themselves. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jim.”
“I’m overwhelmed by the positive messages I’ve been receiving,” said Watson.
“From complete strangers, to political leaders, to friends, it’s been great”
Watson is offering a message of his own to those who may be struggling.
“Don’t rush into it, but don’t take 40 years either.”