There was some point in the not-so-distant past when outing a politician would almost definitely spell the end of his or her career, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Canadian politician Cecil Clarke, who is in his second term as mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, announced his run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party in Nova Scotia on February 3 as reported by the Cape Breton Post. Ahead of that announcement, however, Clarke got word that someone was threatening to out him and make details about his personal life public so as to deter him from entering the race.
Clarke, who has been in politics for over 20 years, decided to take control of the situation. "I'm not going to go forward and announce my intentions about the Progressive Conservative party leadership race having people think that they're going to shame me or hold something over me or make it negative, that in this day and age being gay is somehow a bad thing," he explained in an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Cape Breton radio show on February 1. "Who I am and how I go about my personal life is no longer up as a punching bag for me politically."
"I'm in a committed relationship. I love the person I'm with. That man is very special to me," the 49-year-old added. "I'm not prepared to go on my future journey alone, and I'm not going to do it ashamed or afraid or not proud of who I am as a person."
And though the individual or group who threatened to blackmail Clarke wanted to derail his aspirations to lead the Progressive Conservative Party, the move only seems to have galvanized support for the mayor.
As Buzzfeed News points out, many people, including fellow politicians, took to social media to laud Clarke for his courageous words and actions:
When Clarke formally announced his candidacy this past weekend, The CBC reports he told a packed room of supporters, "I am very proud of who I am and who I'm with in life." The publication also noted his partner was present for the announcement.
Cover image via Shutterstock / Marc Bruxelle.