Posted here June 2019
This article was originally published in Briarpatch Magazine

I used the name Tommi Andrews as a way to remain safe, and to honour my great grandfather Thomas Andrew Watson of Liverpool.

<Tommi Andrews is a lesbian living in rural Nova Scotia.> can now be replaced with <Jo Leath is a lesbian widow living in Ottawa Ontario.>

The rest shows that many changes have happened, although clearly not enough.

The family and community described is an amalgam of real households and individuals who were in my life at that time.

You are Invited to The Casting the First Stone Picnic

by Tommi Andrews

March 27, 2001

As a Canadian, there are words about this country that resound in my mind, making it a country apart from others.

The Canadian Mosaic; a willingness of people to embrace diversity, celebrate difference, and unite in Multi-culturalism. Canada is uniquely welcoming to the ways of the world, Canadians are willing to eat to the tables of the entire globe, to clap and stamp and step into the dances of the planet.

So what a shock it was, this week, when I saw the paperwork coming out of City Hall in Regina, not so very far from the geographical centre of Canada.

Regina; a city of 200,000 people, a hub in the prairie economy, a vibrant place with that broad sky that only a prairie town can offer. In City Hall, it seems, there is something narrow taking place. This is what has issued forth:


WHEREAS the intact heterosexual family unit is ordained by God as clearly revealed in

the Holy Bible (Gen 2:23, 24 Matt 19:4-6); and

WHEREAS large bodies of research support the conclusion that intact heterosexual

families provide an excellent nurturing environment for children; and

WHEREAS many believe that intact heterosexual families provide a necessary source of

stability that benefits society as a whole; and

WHEREAS intact heterosexual family units provide much needed stability and moral

direction for children and young adults; and

WHEREAS intact heterosexual families provide sexual satisfaction for the men and women who are committed to them; and

WHEREAS when monogamy is practiced, the husband and wives who enjoy sexual relations in the confines of their heterosexual marriage have no reason to worry about STD’s, AIDS or broken hearts.

NOW THEREFORE I, Pat Fiacco, Mayor of the City of Regina, do hereby proclaim Monday, June 18, 2001 as 


in Regina, and in issuing this proclamation, ask our citizens to recognize this day.

Predictably, when I thought first about responding to this with my lesbian point of view, I worried that I would appear radical and intolerant. I considered the possibility of writing from another point of view; until I recognized that is just what Mayor Fiacco of Regina would like. My disagreement should banish me into the nice safe closet with all the other closeted writers. We might huddle with our typewriters, and invitations to Heterosexual Family Pride Day. 

I decided against that course of action; I realized how important it was to be truthful, and I wondered who else’s viewpoint I might have adopted. 

My first choice was that of my parents. Then I realized that they would not be able to attend Mayor Fiacco’s fete, because they failed at maintaining an intact heterosexual family simply by raising a lesbian daughter. Furthermore, I am a well-loved daughter; not punished or disinherited for straying from the heterosexual path.

I looked to my sister; she married her childhood sweetheart when they were both very young. She became a mother, and then she grew up. Her husband grew up too. He became a person who could not have been foreseen. My sister chose to leave rather than follow him into the chemically enhanced lifestyle he was developing. Her family then, is flawed, and of course so is my nephew’s family, by default.

My brother looks like a better option. He has been married for 27 years, he still lives with his bride. He has children of 24 and 22, one of them is married, my brother has a grandbaby. 

This family looks perfect, all the more because he will not speak to me; he is far too moral to acknowledge his lesbian sister. 

Yes, my brother could go to Mayor Fiacco’s party, except for one small thing. Last summer, his 12 year old daughter came to visit. Individual quirks notwithstanding, we do not usually place restrictions on family membership, or ask babies to qualify for admittance. My brother acknowledged this teenager, and I gained an extra niece. I have to conclude, however, is that no one from my birth family is qualified for admittance to Mayor Fiacco’s festivities. 

I looked at the family I have created. My partner, of course, is a lesbian; thoroughly ineligible for Heterosexual Family Pride Day. And Oh dear! I have a son by an ex-husband; that’s a corruption. Furthermore, I happen to know that my son was not a virgin when he got married, so his family too is unfit for Mayor Fiacco’s company.

Perhaps when you have a lesbian as a starting point, then ineligibility is inevitable. I decided to broaden my search to the neighbours. This is a quiet rural area in farm-country Canada. We do not live in each other’s pockets, but we help each other stamp out grass fires, we cook casseroles on funeral days, and pick up each others’ children when emergency strikes.

In the first house to the south of me, there is a young widow and her son. I wonder does that suit the requirements? Will it matter how the husband died? Is this family intact if he died from an industrial accident? if he got some bad cocaine? Will they be excluded if we suspect that he was planning to leave; the marriage was not intact?


My northern neighbour is a man raising his teenaged daughter. He was blind-sided by his sudden single-parent stature, he never expected his wife to leave, and he would take her back today if she arrived. He did not impair his family, yet he wouldn’t be able to go to the Regina event.

At the next house we have a two-parent, three-children family, living together, no non-heterosexuals in evidence. 

Oh but gee golly gosh! 

That oldest child has come from a first marriage; the mother escaped with the infant after the husband went on violent rampage and nearly killed them both. By escaping, she kept herself and her child alive, but she lost her chance at an invite to the Regina hetero-festival.

Past the meadow and over the creek, we have children living with grandparents. The seniors are wonderful with them, they are dedicated and loving and kind, bringing the wisdom of life-experience to the rearing of youngsters. But they don’t fit the parameters, this is not an intact heterosexual family unit. Could Regina make an exception? Would it matter whether the absent parents are in Alberta working the oilfields, or in the Corrections system doing time? Is one intact and the other not, even in absentia? How will we draw these lines?

The last house down the road would have been a shoo-in for membership in the Regina elite, until last week. The 33 year old daughter sent word that she has left her husband and entered a rehabilitation program to overcome a 15 year addiction to prescription medications. She has also started legal proceedings against the adult who sexualized her as a little girl. She has amazing strength and courage to take such a step, but it excludes her from the chance to attend on June 18th.

There are some single people in the village. Some are young and have never been married, others are old; pensioners. I don’t know if they could provide proof of their heterosexual nature; maybe it is easiest just to exclude them.

* * * *

I have attended a good many Les-Bi-Gay Pride events. There wasn’t a lot of officialdom, no credentials required. There was no list of clauses ‘whereas’; whole families attended, and were welcomed. The music included ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T,’ and ‘We are Family.’ 

There are always flamboyant joyous singles at Gay Pride Day; young people who strive to jolt spectators towards a new way of seeing. There are also lots of different kinds of families; we label them variously as birth families; blended families; bonded families and chosen families. The common thread connecting them is loving and caring and respecting each other. They share the belief that people together, all people, can grow and be fulfilled as individuals, can help make the world a better place.

Marching for Pride, to show that something is not wrong is very different from an event that suggests it has the Christian god's seal of approval, and therefore is unerringly right.

Stars at the Les-Bi-Gay events are the Parents and Friends organization, PFLAG. Frequently the PFLAG group includes senior women with blue-rinsed hair, always there are steely-grey haired people, we assume they are heterosexuals; in fact, it doesn’t matter. They carry placards with radical slogans like “I love my Lesbian daughter” or “I’m proud of my gay son”.

Probably most of us think our own family is great, that it fits the best possible criteria. My family has raised me, and I think I’m a pretty decent human being. The thing is, I don’t get to tell other families they are doing it wrong. 

There’s not actually much danger of Mayor Fiacco telling many people how to live; it is a really short guest list that the good Mayor will be able to send out. 

No fornicators; no adulterers; no second wives, first husbands; step children or half-siblings. 

No lesbians; gay men or bisexuals; and no celibates just in case. 

Do not attend if you dismantled a family when you escaped violence or abuse. They want no one who stepped up and took in a child who needed a home, and no one who exercised the poor judgment of marrying someone mortal. 

Regina’s Family Pride Day wants no one who said No to societal expectation, and embraced the challenge of living life true to the Spirit within.

I can understand why such rare and tiny minority needs to gather and to share commonalties. If intact heterosexual families feel silenced, then in a diverse community such as Canada, they should certainly have a voice. 

I think it must be difficult to sit on the laurels that they cherish, so high a seat must come with the concomitant fear of falling off: clayfeetphobia, perhaps.

None of this means that they can declare a new reality; there has never been time in history when their fantasy family was the norm. Let them meet and celebrate together, but never let them think they can legislate my behaviour.

I took me a long time to find someone in my life who belongs to this tiny minority, I told her about the Regina Proclamation, and she told me she would not attend, she enjoys diversity, and would rather celebrate with her friends and their amazing differences. 

Yes. Me too.

Tommi Andrews is a lesbian living in rural Nova Scotia.