(CNN)Longtime Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson came out as gay in a column in the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, writing that the announcement was "better late than never."
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson comes out as gay
The 58-year-old wrote he had long struggled with the decision to be open about his sexuality, and considered whether the revelation would affect his relationships with family, friends and constituents.
Watson's announcement came just a day before the start of Ottawa's Capital Pride 2019, a weeklong festival.
"As I look back over my life, and in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake on my part," he wrote.
Watson recalled being bullied in grade school and how his father's frequent relocation for work made it difficult to make friends in high school. There were virtually no resources for LGBTQ students to seek guidance or help, he wrote, and he couldn't remember ever meeting an openly gay student before college.
Though his university environment was more liberal, Watson said he was still too shy and reluctant to come to terms with that part of his identity. After graduation, he busied himself with his career.
Watson, who has led Ottawa since 2010 and previously served as mayor from 1997 to 2000, said he was proud of his track record on LGBTQ issues. He voted in favor of same-sex marriage and as a provincial cabinet minister in the early 2000s, he made it easier for same-sex couples to get married. He was also the first Ottawa mayor to march in city's Pride Parade.
Still, he said he had some regret -- and some words of wisdom for others in similar situations.
"But if I can be so bold as to offer one bit of advice to those still in the closet: Don't feel pressured or rushed to come out, but don't wait 40 years either," he wrote. "My reluctance has not allowed me to live my life as full of love and adventure as my gay friends who were bolder and braver than I ever was."