CBC: Watson raises Pride flag as openly gay man

Mayor Jim Watson raised the rainbow flag over Ottawa City Hall Monday, marking his first Capital Pride event as an openly gay man. 

Watson officially came out in a column in the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday.

"This is my third-day anniversary as an openly gay man in Ottawa," Watson told the crowd at the flag-raising ceremony. "I'm so touched by the support that I've received over the last couple of days." 

The ceremony at City Hall is one of many events scheduled for Capital Pride week, which kicked off Sunday. Rainbow flags were hoisted at a number of other locations Monday, including fire and paramedic service buildings and OC Transpo headquarters.

During the ceremony, the mayor thanked those in attendance, singling out Coun. Catherine McKenney, an openly gay woman.

"We are now a gay caucus of two," Watson joked. "She's the chair, I'm the vice-chair."

Watson also referred to an incident at a public library on Saturday when religious protesters disrupted a drag queen storytelling event for children, denouncing it as "child abuse."

"We saw the disgusting acts that took place in Bells Corners, and that's why we have to celebrate Pride, and that's why we have to remain vigilant in our opposition to those who spew hate," Watson said.

Watson ended his remarks by reflecting on the 40 years he hid his identity.  

"Better late than never," he said. "I'm very proud to be a member of the community."

Other Capital Pride events include a block party, a pageant, a prom and a street fair. There are over 60 community events taking place, many of them free and family-friendly. The week concludes with the city's annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

Catherine McKenney