Reluctant gay rights hero seeks serenity abroad
Posted on March 31, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Delwin Vriend looks out the window of his apartment in the heart of old Paris.
Across the street, a 17th-century mansion houses the Musee Picasso, the world’s largest collection of Pablo Picasso’s paintings. From there, it’s a short walk to historic Notre Dame cathedral.
In Europe’s most beautiful city, Vriend seeks an unobtrusive life, the daily commute on a crowded train to his computer job in the suburbs, home at night in time for vegan dinner with his partner and perhaps a walk through the neighbourhood shops.
t’s a long way, deliberately so, from Edmonton and King’s University College, the private Christian college that fired the chemistry instructor in 1991 for being gay.
After the heated seven-year battle that followed — it wasn’t until 1998 that the Supreme Court finally ruled that gays must be included in provincial human rights laws — Vriend moved away, seeking the balm of anonymity, first in San Francisco and later Paris.
In his first interview in recent years, Vriend now says he has a very different view of those tumultuous days.
“When I look back, it was one of the best things that happened to me, though it didn’t seem so at the time,” Vriend says on the phone from Paris.
Without the force of those historic events of the 1990s, he says, he might not have found a way out of the strict version of Christianity of his upbringing that condemned homosexuality as contrary to its religious doctrine.
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