1 min

Public battles

Stevenson mixes sex, politics and religion

Credit: COPE

Tim Stevenson has been fighting for gay and lesbian rights since he came out 27 years ago. “An enormous energy just came pouring out,” Stevenson recalls of the year he came out, quit his job, enrolled in religious studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and took his first steps toward activism. He immediately joined Gay UBC and soon became its president. “I was very determined that young people behind me wouldn’t have to go through what I did,” he says.

More than a decade later, Stevenson won his very public battle with the United Church and became Canada’s first openly gay, ordained minister in a mainstream church. It’s just one of the ways he merges religion and politics. “My mother said to stay away from sex, politics and religion,” Stevenson says with a laugh. To this day, he still pursues all three with a passion, he says.

Stevenson’s first foray into electoral politics came in the mid-1990s when he planned to run with COPE for a seat in the 1996 Vancouver election. But he never got the chance. The provincial NDP invited him to run on its slate for BC’s 1995 election. Stevenson accepted and soon became one of BC’s first openly gay MLAs.

Now, he’s once again hoping for a COPE seat on council. If he gets elected, Stevenson says he’ll focus on finding bus-friendly transportation solutions to Vancouver’s growing gridlock problem, and cutting red tape to encourage small businesses.

Small businesses, such as the gay and lesbian shops and pubs on Davie St, should be at the centre of Vancouver’s economy, he says. They shouldn’t have to jump through so many expensive hoops just to get their licences. That’s just one of the things Stevenson says he’ll review if he gets elected on Nov 16.