Just a day before Pride celebrations in Ottawa officially kick off, Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson has come out as an openly gay man.
Watson said it was time to share his secret with the city after 40 years of worrying about how his constituents, friends and family would react.
"I've been thinking about it for 40 years … I've known I was gay since I was a teenager," he said. "I feel comfortable with the decision and I'm glad I did it. But it took me a long time to get there."
In an op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, Watson writes that it was a "mistake" not coming out sooner. He said chose to come out because it was "the right thing to do," but wishes he'd told everyone sooner.
Watson says he was inspired to write the column after he raised the pride flag at city hall during the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia to show solidarity with LGBT athletes who feared the Russian government's views on homosexuality.
Watson says he was also convinced to come out of the closet after he was approached by a man in a park two years ago who told him he shouldn't go to the Ottawa Pride Parade, calling it the "fag parade."
Many political leaders have written Watson messages of support on social media, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who tweeted that the mayor was brave for sharing his story.
Watson with Trudeau in Ottawa's Pride Parade