Twenty gay and lesbian RCMP police officers have made a poignant Youtube video that explains how they got past childhood bullying to live happy and complete lives as members of Canada’s national police force.
The B.C. Mounties are the latest group to create a 10-minute video for the international It Gets Better project, a movement popularized by celebrities and politicians over the past two years to help gay youth fight the despondency that can accompany being different.
The officers at times give tearful testimonials about the terrifying process of discovering their sexuality and then hiding it, before eventually declaring it publicly. They use the RCMP red serge dress jacket, stetson and Canadian flag as a backdrop.
“When I told my mother I was leaving the priesthood because I was gay, she cried for three years straight,” RCMP Corporal Robert Ploughman says in the video.
The officers describe how they survived schoolyard taunts and a lack of role models, before growing up to become 911 dispatchers, homicide investigators and anti-gang task force members.
Many of them recall how they battled stereotypes in their careers.
“If you were gay you kind of had to be an artist, or a makeup artist or you worked retail,” says Constable Russel Olsen in the video. “You kind of had a job that wasn’t necessarily considered masculine.”
The RCMP, whose members released the video on Monday, is not the first police force to put together a video for the It Gets Better project.
Police departments in San Francisco and Austin released their own videos earlier this year.
But with 30,000 employees from coast to coast, the Canadian force is the largest police force to date to lend a voice to the effort.
The It Gets Better project was started in 2010 by syndicated columnist Dan Savage in response to cases of gay teenagers who committed suicide after being bullied.
Over the past year, the RCMP has been publicly wrestling with the issue of workplace harassment, with scores of female officers coming forward to allege they were victims of inappropriate behaviour by male superiors.