2 min

Teaching North Bay about gays

His wife found out

Mario Domingue’s wife discovered he was gay in May of 1997.

“She called it quits on me after she found out,” he says. “I kind of had no choice. She started outing me to a whole bunch of people – which is understandable. She was looking for support, I guess.”

Domingue now sees his two children – twin five-year-old girls – on alternate weekends.

He wants to save other gay people – especially the young – from what he went through. One way to do that is to organize the third annual Building Bridges gay and lesbian conference in North Bay, which will be held this weekend.

He’s hoping 100 people will come out for a day of discussion and seminars, with a focus on youth. Toronto lawyer and activist Doug Elliott is the keynote speaker; he’s fresh from a Supreme Court Of Canada appearance on behalf of the Canadian AIDS Society in the Little Sister’s bookshop censorship case.

Domingue especially wants school guidance counsellors and therapists from the area to come by. None bothered last year.

Still, past gatherings have had an effect. “The first conference was kind of last minute. But there were two less straight people that walked out. Two who came to terms with it that weekend,” says Domingue.

He says that his visibility is not usual for gay men and lesbians in the area.

“For me, it’s nothing. I’m an exception. I’m too out for them. I’m not afraid to wear the colours” – rainbow flags on his van and house. “It scares the heck out of them.”

It scares the gay people, too. Some think Domingue is too out, that he’s advertising. “They want to stay in the closet. Anything that is visible they fear will identify them.”

So walking in the annual Canada Day parade this summer got a mixed reaction.

“What drives me is my personal agenda, my vision. I don’t want to see anyone else go through what I’ve been through. The youth, none of them deserve to wait [to accept themselves].

“We don’t have a youth group, that’s kind of my next goal right now.”

His gay fathers’ group ended up being a bit too cruisy for his taste, and he stopped calling meetings. But he’s still available to talk.

And the Building Bridges conference will, he hopes, continue to bring the community together. And help teach the rest of the world “to up the level of acceptance, or at the very least, tolerance.”


$15 (free for high school students).

10am. Sat, Mar 25.

St Andrew’s Church.

399 Cassells St. North Bay.

(705) 472-9778.