A mayor in Canada has opened up about his sexual orientation after being threatened with outing.
Cecil Clarke, mayor of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, told the CBC’s Mainstreet Cape Breton radio show on Thursday that someone “wanting to possibly shame” him threatened to publicly reveal he was gay.
Instead, he decided to do it himself.
“If that’s homophobia and the fact that I’m gay in political life, then shame on people that do that,” said the 49-year-old politician.
Clarke, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality since 2012, is expected to announce plans this weekend to run for leadership of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party.
“I’m not going to go forward and announce my intentions about the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race having people think that they are going to shame me,” he insisted. “Or hold something over me, or make it [seem]… in this day and age, that being gay is somehow a bad thing.”
Clarke admits dealing the the threat reopened a lot of old wounds, including the specter of sexual abuse when he was a child. He praised his family and longtime partner for supporting him, and said he owed it to them to be true to himself.
“If I don’t speak out now, if I can’t go into a room and know that the person I want to spend my life with can’t be there freely as well? I actually turned it around and said, ’No, I’m not prepared.’ Shame on me—it’s time to say no to this type of abuse.”
Before becoming mayor, Clarke served in the Nova Scotia legislature for 10 years, starting in 2001. He has also served as the province’s minister of economic development, attorney general, and minister of justice.
I appreciate you bravely sharing your story today, Cecil. I stand by you, and I'm proud to be in a diverse and inclusive party like the @nspc. Let's focus on issues in the leadership race, and I condemn all personal attacks. @CBRMGov #nspoli
— John Lohr (@JohnLohrMLA) February 1, 2018