Truro, Nova Scotia’s mayor opens his mouth and puts his foot in it.
A gay man opens his mouth and, well, Truro’s mayor doesn’t like it when gay men put things in their mouths. At least not in the park on Wood St.
On Dec 7, Truro Mayor Bill Mills proposed a motion to close vehicle access to a portion of the street. Wood St is one of the main access points to Victoria Park. The park is not only popular as an area for walking and hiking but has been known for decades as an area to go to, as the locals say, “tear one off.”
But Mills pointed out that it wasn’t just everyone that was going up there to fool around. Mills singled out men who have sex with men. “It’s a favourite pickup spot for guys from all over the Maritime provinces,” he said on Dec 8. “They go up and have a rendezvous and then they go into the woods and do their thing. It’s been known for years and years and is becoming more and more of a problem.”
Ask the locals and they’ll tell you people have been going up to Victoria Park for sex for years, decades even. Local consenting adults — gay and straight — have been going to the park for a very long time. It’s just now that mayor Mills has taken it upon himself to bring about this potential closure.
This is not the first time Mills has gone head-to-head (no pun intended) with the gay community. In 2007, Charles Thompson, a local gay man involved with the area’s Pride activities, tried to get Truro to fly a rainbow flag at town hall. Mills was a vocal opponent of the idea. He said that to fly the flag would conflict with his personal religious beliefs.
But for many in the area, both straight and gay, this situation is different. One person, local merchant Daryl Moir, claims that the mayor is singling out gays. He has filed a complaint with the local police against the mayor, stating that his comments constitute a hate crime.
The reaction to Mill’s comments — and Moir’s complaint — is easily discovered in the local newspaper’s website coverage. They range from supportive (“It was unfair for Mr Mills to target the gay community yet again!”) to ridiculous (“I am not in anyway condoning public sex! And buddy I have morals”) to personal attacks on Moir (“Spend a lot of time in the park do ya Darryl?”).
The Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project commented on the story through a press release. “The Mayor already revealed his bias against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community when he refused to fly the Pride flag in 2007,” says NSRAP. “At that time, he also revealed his willingness to allow his homophobic bias to guide his mayoral decisions and actions. As a result, it is difficult to not view his latest actions as another concerted effort to send a message to Truro’s LGBT citizenry that they are unwelcome.”
Moir and his partner, who have lived in Truro for the past 17 years, have had enough. The couple plan on moving to nearby New Glasgow. When asked what he plans to do now that he has filed his complaint against the mayor, Moir says “the stone has been cast, waiting for the ripples to pass.”
Truro council is set to vote on the Wood St motion on Jan 4.