A simple conversation with his sons about gay people proved to be a turning point for TD Bank Group President and CEO Tim Hockey.
Hockey was in town from Toronto for his first Vancouver Pride event: the Vancouver TD Pride reception at the Junction Pub in the Davie Village on July 15.
In a speech, he recounted how 10 years ago, he and his wife sat down with their two sons (who were, at the time, 9 and 10 years old) to explain to them that they were inviting a same-sex couple over for dinner.
"Do you mean they're gay, Dad?" they asked. "Okay. What else do you want to talk about? Can we go now and play X-Box?"
Although it didn't matter to his kids that the couple was gay, Hockey discovered that after 15 years of marriage, his wife didn't realize how passionately he felt about social equality.
"I assumed that she knew how I felt…[about] how important it was for me for people not to be judged based on any sort of normative standards," he said, "but rather just on the quality of the individual that they are and it was very important for people to be able to live up to who they wanted to be in a community that supported them."
If his wife didn't know it, he asked, how would the people he worked with know this?
"So that's when I learned the true meaning of what it is to be a true ally," he explained. "Being an ally isn't being silent and it isn't not making a comment or gently chiding someone if they make a gay joke in front of you….Being an ally is actually proclaiming that it is very important to allow people to live up to their true selves."
Hockey said that TD has been the presenting sponsor of Vancouver Pride festival for the past six years. He added that TD supports B.C. Pride festivals in Victoria, Vancouver, and Kelowna, and supports 42 Pride festivals across North America and has given $1.2 million in support LGBT organizations in North America .
TD started its LGBTA Employee Pride Network in 2007 and now has over 3,000 members, with 300 of them in Vancouver.
LGBTA business development regional manager Grant Minish, who organized the reception, said that this is the 11th year the company has thrown a Pride party.
This year, the company also decided to cover two West End branches in temporary full exterior rainbow wraps: one at Burrard at Davie and the other at Davie at Bidwell.
He said that the support he feels from his company is "really powerful" and "emotional". He also noted how much things have changed over the decades.
"Twenty years ago this would never have happened but look at it today," he said.