A Hamilton LGBT community activist says she is heartened by the recent election of Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's first female Premier and also Canada's first openly gay official.
That makes her a much needed role model, said Deirdre Pike, a senior social planner for the Hamilton Social Planning Research Council and a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
"I think there's a definite responsibility for people in high level positions to be out and be role models for the rest of people who are more marginalized because of their sexual orientation," said Pike.
'I'm not a Liberal, but I'm sure happy for who the Liberals picked as our next premier. I don't know that it's going to be remarkable for our economy and all that, but I do think it will be remarkable for LGBT youth in communities across Ontario.' —Deirdre Pike, Hamilton Social Planning Research Council
For Pike, the fact that Wynne is the country's first openly gay official means a great deal to both young people and adults who are struggling with their sexuality privately.
"I didn't come out until I was 37," shared Pike. "I could totally use different role models that it's OK to be out."
Pike only quibbles with Wynne's preference for using the term 'gay' over 'lesbian'.
"I identify as a lesbian or a member of the queer community. I don't think she uses that kind of language."
Pike would like to see politicians overall adopt more current language in discussing LGBT issues going forward.
"Gay is not a workable umbrella term anymore. It's too narrow."
That said, she believes Wynne can only bring greater attention to the community.
"I'm not a Liberal, but I'm sure happy for who the Liberals picked as our next Premier. I don't know that it's going to be remarkable for our economy and all that, but I do think it will be remarkable for LGBT youth in communities across Ontario."
Pike also sees Wynne as yet more evidence of a growing and impressive spread of political power among women in Canada.
"We have six female Premiers in Canada right now governing over 80 per cent of the population of Canada. She is joining, hopefully, a collaboration of really influential women in this country."
While she said that there are plenty of examples of female leaders who "fall into the big boys bad club," a collective of female leaders working together may make a positive difference.
She cites the opinion of one economist who argued that the current economic crisis could have been avoided if more women held positions of power. "We would not even be in this economic crisis if we did have more women in power."
Henry Jacek, professor of political science at McMaster, doesn't believe that Wynne's sex or her sexual orientation played a significant role in her election.
"I don't think it was a factor in her election. I know the media makes a big deal about it, but I think the delegates at the election couldn't care less."
Jacek is more excited by the kind of politician Wynne may be once she is sworn in as Premier.
"I think Wynne will be a lot more innovative."
Jacek points out that her transition team includes a number of extremely bright, well educated people, including former cabinet minister Monique Smith and former Environment Minister John Wilkinson.
She has surrounded herself with very bright people, he said.
"These are people who are very creative, and we need creative solutions right now to get out of the dead end that the McGuinty government found itself in in the past year."