You’ll have to excuse me if I have to duck out to puke a little bit each time I see Harper trot out his family – as if this enough proves that he is a decent guy with everyone’s needs at stake who is qualified to continue to lead the country. We get it. His children and wife are blond and idyllic. He is the masculine head of household, wearing a sweater to soften his look and convince us that he has a warm, nurturing side. Kind of like to ubiquitous photo of him with one of the kittens that Laureen fosters (poor kitten!).
You see, the images that Harper is putting out there are undeniably nuclear and heterosexual – as if to assure his right-wing base that the family is not in jeopardy, that ingle moms and gay parents have not eroded the Father Knows Best image of Canada that he so desperately wants to appeal to. He knows that people like me will never vote for him, so why reflect us in his campaign?
Well, if the Republican sex scandals south of the border can teach us any lessons, it’s that there’s no such thing as a perfect family, and that beneath the veneer of the the so-called American family lies a legacy of shame, infidelity and repressed homosexuality. When Harper insists on projecting his family as the model for everyone in the country, he implicitly tells the rest of us that our families have no value, that they don’t fit the norm, that they are unworthy of his consideration.
This is all bitterly ironic to queer people living in Ottawa, of course, because we are well-aware of at least one "closeted" Conservative cabinet minister who stood by Harper’s side when he re-introduced the same sex marriage issue after it had been long decided and defended the government’s actions when it cut the Court Challenges program. Because the Canadian media is generally respectful of people’s privacy, this issue is one of the biggest open secrets in Ottawa.
In the 1980s and 90s, the U.S.-based Queer Nation used to routinely engage in what activists referred to as "political outings" – exposing politicians who remained mum about their sexual orientation, while continuing to support policies that discriminated against gays and people living with HIV/AIDS.
I don’t believe in outing and neither does the publication that I write for. But at what point do political figures cross the hypocrisy line and deserve to be forced to admit how they really live? We all deserve the right to a private life, but when I see a politician that I know is gay stand behind a party that has never supported our human rights and is intent on reassuring people that we are invisible, it frankly burns my ass.
Last year, the Conservative party tried to bury a study commissioned by the federal justice department in 2003 that pointed out that lesbian mothers are just as good, if not better for children, than heterosexual parents. The report was only made public after its author, Paul astings from Concordia University, obtained it under the Access to Information Act. Now empirical data supports what many of us have always known: love makes a family. And any political party intent on imposing only one family model on an ever-changing population is doomed to cultural and political obscurity.
To the closeted politicians in Ottawa and around the country, I say "come out, come out, wherever you are." But insisting on your privacy, you allow the government to chip away at all of our rights. There are lots of ways to make a family. Why don’t you tell us the truth about yours?