On February 10, 2014 controversy arose in Nunavut when the rainbow flag was raised outside Iqaluit city hall. City councillor Simon Nattaq publicly criticized the event and a few weeks later Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., voiced her support of Nattaq. Shortly thereafter, Robert "Robbie" Watt, who is the openly gay son of Canadian Senator Charlie Watt, stepped up to offer his support and formed the Facebook page for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in the Arctic. Below are excerpts from two articles detailing Watt's journey towards advocacy for the LGBTQ community in Northern Canada.
[Nunavut, Canada] For Robbie Watt, March 6 was a turning point. That’s the day the 46-year-old Inuk — who first came out as a homosexual almost 20 years ago — feels like he came out once again. It’s time, he said, to change negative attitudes about homosexuality in many Inuit communities. Watt was reacting to comments made earlier this week by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie, when she “commended” an Iqaluit city councillor for speaking out against the raising of a rainbow flag last month. As criticism of her comments mounted, Towtongie refused to apologize, saying instead that Nunavummiut need to “openly discuss the issue of sexual orientation.” That’s what Watt has already started doing. By the end of the day, he had created a Facebook page for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in the Arctic, which quickly amassed more than 250 followers. “If they want to have a debate, I’m ready,” Watt said. “I’m ready to fight to make sure for once and for all that we belong to this society. We’re part of this human fabric.” The timing was right, he added, in a region where there are really no services for gay and lesbian Inuit. “We’re losing a lot of good people to this ignorance,” Watt said. “There are many individuals who have ended their lives because they felt different, they felt ashamed, they had no support. “As Inuit say — taima; enough is enough.” READ MORE
Robbie Watt shares how emotional it was for him to speak to his father (Senator Charlie Watt) before he took a public stance for LGBTQ rights.
[Nunavut, Canada ] Robbie Watt, a Nunavik Inuk now living in Montreal, says ultimately it doesn’t matter whether homosexuality is traditional or why it exists at all. There are gay people in all countries, from all cultures, and they deserve the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, he says. Watt launched the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer Community in the Arctic Facebook page March 6, the day Towtongie’s comments were made public. Though his father, Senator Charlie Watt, knew he was gay, Robbie said he’d never made his sexual orientation public out of respect for his father’s political position. When Robbie agreed to speak to media about his views, he took a deep breath and called his dad to warn him. The senator told him he loved him and that he respected him for standing up for what he believed. “I hung up the phone and I started to cry,” Robbie said. “For my dad to say that, it meant so much to me. I’m 46 years old and I feel like a little kid all over again.” READ MORE