Being the first openly gay Toronto Police Deputy Chief is something that Barb McLean takes great pride in.
She joined Shawna Coxon and Peter Yuen as new deputies announced in August.
“While I have worked hard to get to where I am today, I know I wouldn’t be standing in front of you tonight if it hadn’t been for the pioneers who came before me,” she said at Serving With Pride (SWP) Out of the Blue Gala on Oct. 21. “Those who were brave enough to be their true selves, who pushed barriers and narrowed gaps and those who gave me the courage to bring my whole self to work. In other words, those who served with pride.”
SWP comprises LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirited) professionals working in policing, emergency and criminal justice sectors that are committed to visibility, inclusive workplaces and social networks to encourage, advance and promote members in these sectors.
Like the pioneers who led the way, McLean said it’s now the turn of SWP members and supporters to lead the way and help others live their truth.
“And that is why Serving With Pride is such an important organization and why tonight is so meaningful,” she added. “To gather together with so many of our colleagues allows us to see that we are not alone in our experiences and it gives us an opportunity to support, validate and celebrate each other.”
Joe Couto, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police director of government relations & communications, was the recipient of an Ally Award at the event.
“I am greatly honoured by the recognition and that’s not only because it’s coming from LBGTQ2S police personnel, but because it is coming from people who I have worked with and now respect,” he said. “That means a lot to me. The award also validates that those of us who consider ourselves allies for LGBTQ2S police officers have an important role to play in helping them achieve everything they want to achieve as law enforcement personnel.”
Retired Strathroy-Caradoc police Chief Laurie Hayman was presented with a Visibility Award.
A silent auction was held during the annual gala and money raised went to Egale Canada’s transitional housing facility for LGBTQ2S youth homeless.
Toronto Police LGBTQ Liaison Officer Constable Danielle Bottineau is a director of SWP, which has been in existence since 2006.