Introduction by Stephen Hartley: The most difficult thing to do is write about one self. Where do you start?
I am a 51 year old gay male with Multiple Sclerosis. The MS has slowed me down somewhat and is the primary reason for my early retirement – but I do not see it as a disability but rather a life long challenge. My educational background is Theology and am currently completing my requirements for CGA designation – Chartered General Accountant
My actual trade is cooking – I am a qualified Chef and had the opportunity to work all over Canada. When I found myself behind a desk more often than a stove, I moved into the world of finance – then into the non-profit & charitable sector. Prior to coming back to Kingston in 2004, I spent 14 years in Québec with my partner Rudy who passed away in 2005.
I was the founding member of PFLAG Canada Kingston Chapter in 2004 and still very active with that organization. I was first introduced to Kingston Pride through Keith Bilow – to whom I owe a great deal of thanks. His invitation for PFLAG Kingston to participate in the Pride Celebrations in 2011 – well I have never looked back and it changed my perspective of the LGBTQ Community in Kingston.
1. When did you start being the chair of the Pride Committee? What will be some of the highlights of Kingston Pride 2013?
I was elected the Chair of Kingston Pride at the end of January 2013. Just a short time ago.
The one major highlight that I would like to point out is the Raising of the Pride Flag in Confederation Park on May 31st, 2013 at 2:00 pm. The Flag will fly for the month of June which was proclaimed PRIDE Month by City Council. We encourage all to come out and join us. We have many events happening through to June 16th – and to mention a few there are: Mr & Miss Kingston Pride 2013, An amateur Comedy Night, Film Screening “G.B.F.” (Gay Best Friend)”, A Play – How to Bake a Pie in 10 easy Steps, Queer Art Show, and much more…
2. What are you looking forward to?
Actually I am looking forward to all of it. The Pride Committee is a small committed group of individuals which has done an amazing job at putting this celebration together. The raising of the PRIDE Flag in Confederation Park and also the unveiling of Kingston PRIDE’s new logo, for me are major. The new logo will be unveiled on the 15th, just before we set out for the parade.
3. Which event will we see Stephen at?
Stephen will be at all the events. Those running over a period of time I will be at once or twice. There is still an accessibility issue with some of the events and being a wheelchair user this has presented some challenges – but I will there!
4. How has it been being the chair of the Pride Committee? Any surprises?
Being the chair of Kingston PRIDE has definitely been rewarding. I have met some awesome people and look forward to meeting many more. As for surprises – they are part and parcel of all organization and Kingston PRIDE is not exempt. There have been a few hiccups along the way and a pothole or two but we dealt with it and continued to move forward. I have always encouraged the Committee to use the past as a guide post – not a hitching post.
5. You’re doing double business with Pride and PFLAG, how has that challenge been?
It has been an experience – but I can honestly say a good one. Both organizations have wonderful people involved and understand my commitment to both. Everyone has pitched in so neither organization is left out or suffers. I wish to thank the boards of both organizations for their support and commitment.
6. What do you want people to bring to the Kingston Pride events? Do you have any plans for World Pride 2014 festivities next year?
A smile – an open mind and a Friend. This festival is one of diversity, equality and inclusion – a celebration of just that. World Pride is high on the agenda but we are still in the talking phase of this. We have been very busy in planning Kingston PRIDE 2014 – Our 25th anniversary.