When Al McNutt’s parents were first told their son might be gay, they took him to the doctor. Without the information they needed, they thought a doctor could help him change.
McNutt, who is currently the director of the Northern Healthy Connections Society, has seen major changes take place in the community since that time, and he’s proud of his hometown.
“I’ve been at Pride events from Vancouver to Montreal to San Francisco, and Truro has outdone them all in support,” he said.
“People used to say we would never have a Pride parade in Truro, but Pride has taken off and become a great event for the entire community.”
As a young man, McNutt tried to conform to what was expected, and he got married. Although the marriage didn’t last, he and his ex-wife are good friends.
“I don’t regret getting married, because I have two wonderful children and a wonderful grandson,” he said.
McNutt’s parents were understanding when he talked to them about being gay, but they were concerned about his happiness and safety.
In 1986, he tested HIV positive, and was living in Toronto when his partner died from HIV/AIDS in 1993. Three years after that he returned to Truro.
“I found there was a small support group in Truro, and became part of it,” he said. “We would have dances and potlucks. That was nice, because before that everybody used to go to Halifax.”
McNutt organized the first two Pride events in Truro, and is excited about what he sees today.
“It’s quite a thrill for me to see how it’s grown. Seeing the support means a lot. We have an exciting parade and we have the flag flying.”
Keltie Jones and her wife, Joy Galloway Jones, moved to Truro from California, after that state voted for an amendment stating only marriage between a man and a woman was valid.
“People voted for discrimination. It was like a kick in the gut,” she said. “We decided to move to Truro and some people told us we wouldn’t like it here.
“Truro had a reputation around acceptance, but I saw a community that didn’t match what people were saying about it. We’ve been welcomed in the community. People are accepting and comfortable.”
Jones grew up in Bridgewater, and was raised with the belief that everyone was equal. She attended Stanford University, in California, but followed the traditional path, and married and had children.
She was 32 when she met her future wife.
“When I met Joy, I knew she was the person I was meant to be with,” she said.
The couple has been in Truro since 2009, and had the opportunity to see positive changes.
“I think, with the same sex marriage bill passing people really felt that gave them a stamp of acceptance,” said Jones.
“Truro has been great. It’s been an absolute blast to see the Pride Parade develop, and watch Pride evolve.”
Al McNutt said he’s glad to see the changes, but doesn’t want the past to be forgotten.
“I’m happy for the younger generation, but I feel we can never forget the past, and how others suffered to create this pathway.”