It's Pride Week in my town! My union president invited me to attend the Pride Kick-off Breakfast as an "LGBTQ leader in your school." Too funny! I fell into this LGBTQ leader role accidentally when I outed myself to the wider school district when applying to attend a homophobia workshop in May and it just snowballed from there.
I approached the breakfast venue with some trepidation, dressed in my Pride T-shirt and rainbow wrist band. It seems that gay people are always coming out on different levels but this was to be my biggest "outing" yet. I was coming out to the movers and shakers in my town rather than just within my immediate circle of family, friends, fellow teachers and union officials.
The hundred attendees included every LGBTQ leader in town, municipal and provinical politicians and officials from the local unions, industry and larger businesses. My school division was particularly well represented with a sampling of Superintendents, elected trustees, teachers' union leaders, myself, and various LGBTQ student groups who made moving presentations to the gathering.
I was most impressed that our Director of Education was there, a very important person in this, the biggest school division (geographically) in the province. I don't actually know her and indeed, we'd rarely met but she worked with my ex-wife briefly about 12 years ago. But the Director approached me from across the room, smiled warmly and said, "Hi _ _ _ _ ! How are you doing!" and gave me a hug.
Wow! I'm still trying to figure what that gesture meant! Was it a "thank you" for attending an LGBTQ event which was so important to the school division? Support for my coming out as gay? (and clearly, she had heard the gossip about it.) Or support after surviving a difficult divorce?
There was another very interesting development. Over a year ago, I had blogged about some reckless online behaviour by an elected official in our town, a divorced, closeted man who had sent me full-face, naked pictures of himself without even knowing who I was.
Well, the reckless, naked dude was actually a trustee with our school division and is now fully out as a gay elected official, featured prominently in the local media. He was there as an organizer of the breakfast event. We chatted briefly, shook hands and locked eyes as gay men do. We had worked together years ago on a school committee when we were both "straight" married men and his kids attended my school. He now knows that I'm gay but he still doesn't know that I the guy who he was propositioning online!
After a powerful keynote address by the director of Canada's largest LGBQT organization, I left feeling empowered and energized. I was excited about: (1) being gay and (2) the potential impact that I could have as a LGBTQ role model and leader in my school and beyond.