It Gets Better: RCMP share their coming-out stories to support queer youth
They're from across the country: Calgary, North York, St. John's, Winnipeg, Nanaimo, St. Margarets Bay, Pender Harbour.
Their jobs range from 911 dispatchers to traffic or homicide investigators to gang task force members.
That fact alone is indicative of change.
“If you were gay you kind of had to be an artist, or a makeup artist or you worked retail,” Const. Russel Olsen says on camera, about what he saw as a youth. “You kind of had a job that wasn’t necessarily considered masculine.”
It's one of the 20 poignant personal accounts of growing up gay or lesbian offered by members of the RCMP in an It Gets Better video released on November 5. It was spearheaded by the Surrey RCMP Youth Unit.
(The campaign, as you probably already know, was originally launched by Savage Love columnist Dan Savage to provide messages of hope and encouragement to queer youth. Everyone from celebrities to politicians and sports teams have made videos for the campaign.)
They talk about their experiences of feeling different as children, their first same-sex crushes, and being called everything from faggot to lezzie or dyke. Many speak about the void of positive images of gay or lesbian people or role models and seeing nothing but negative stereotypes while growing up.
"They were freaks," an officer says of the images he saw of gay people.
And then they recount their coming out experiences. Their parents reacted with everything from tears and struggles to support and unconditional love. (Not to mention the overloving parent—watch for Mark Greenfield's bit about having to tell his father to tone things down).
"I love you, and I will never judge you for anything you do," a special enforcement unit officer's father told him.
As a tearful Const. Kelly Power says of her late father's acceptance of her, "I felt like it was okay to be me."
(Be forewarned: This video might be NSFW, if you're prone to waterworks.)