Gordon Price of the NPA became the first openly gay member of Vancouver City Council in 1986, where he served until 2002.
Q: During your years as a city councillor, what was done to curb gay bashing?
A: Nothing that I can recall. No issue rises to my mind. If something did happen, it would have been referred to the police board, which has regulatory power.
Q: How do you think gay bashing should be prevented?
A: Through equal parts social change, on the municipal level and through a new generation.
Q: There’s been a proposal to put more police foot patrols in Davie Village during the weekends. What do you think about it?
A: People like the idea of having cops on the beat. But the moment that the police has to write a report or file a paper, they’re off the streets. All it takes is a single 911 call and the police could be off for hours. There is no social change by having more police on the beat. Also, from the police’s point of view, it tends not to last very long. The police say “We have to do this until the pressure is off.” It’s all about politics and perception — and addressing a long-term problem exactly around election time.
Q: Being openly gay and a politician, what was the reaction when you decided to run for city council?
A: The first question I got asked when I announced my candidacy was how me being gay would impact my chances of getting elected. I had worked with AIDS Vancouver and was already known as a gay person. I told the reporters I didn’t think it would affect me and ended up getting elected six times to city council.
Q: How did the gay community react to you being elected?
A: They couldn’t get their heads around it, me being a member of the NPA. People don’t expect gay people to come from the right. While I was in city council, there were several city councillors who were gay or lesbians, predominantly from right-centre parties. It didn’t line up with the preconceived idea of gays in politics. I was a politician who happened to be gay, not a gay who happened to be into politics.