Battling burdens

Tara
Tara Bradbury
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Kori Power of St. John’s joins other RCMP officers to tells gay youths, ‘It gets better’

Kori Power admits he is living his dream life. An RCMP corporal, Power is a member of the police force’s Integrated Homicide Investigations Unit in B.C., a job he worked hard to earn, and loves. He’s engaged to be married, has a supportive and loving family, and gets home to St. John’s at least every Christmas.

“Life is awesome,” Power says.

It’s nothing like the life Power had pictured for himself as a teenager, when he came to the resolution that he was going to be alone for the rest of his life. He’d never marry a woman and he couldn’t marry a man, so he felt he’d be forced to live the single life forever, he says.

“I said in my mind, that’s it, it is what it is, you’re going to be alone forever, so just suck it up and move on.”

It was a heavy burden for a school kid to bear. Having realized he was gay around age 13, Power told no one, and went to great lengths to cover up his sexuality.

He had girlfriends, and was extra careful to make sure no one caught him daydreaming over a male classmate.

When his mother asked him at age 20 if he was gay, Power acted offended, and told her, “How dare you? Of course not.”

When he was a teenager, he had no gay role models, and no one to tell him life would one day get better.

When he went to Depot, the RCMP training academy in Regina, Sask., in 2002 — after doing an undergraduate degree at MUN — Power decided, now that he was among strangers, he didn’t have anything to hide anymore.

“When you’re telling lies to people all the time, it’s harder to admit to them. It’s more of a betrayal to say, actually I’ve been pulling your leg for three years,” Power says.

“At the academy, no one knew me or had a clue who I was. I had already had a couple of boyfriends in Newfoundland before I left, and so I got there and I had a picture of one of them. I remember you had your cubby hole that you had your personal stuff in, and one of the guys looks over and said, ‘Hey, who’s that? Is that your bro?’ In that split second, I thought, I have no history I have to keep protecting, and I just blurted out, ‘No, actually, that’s my ex.’ He was like, ‘Cool, man.’ I thought, wow, people actually accept it.

“I guess I say I came out at the academy, but there was no real coming out because no one thought I was straight to begin with.”

Power quickly met other gay and lesbian RCMP officers stationed in B.C., including Corp. Robert Ploughman, a fellow Newfound­land­er and former priest.

Power, Ploughman and 18 others, including civilian RCMP employees and police officers, filmed videos over the summer, sharing their experiences of realizing they were gay, coming out, how they’ve been treated and how life has changed, in a video for the It Gets Better project.

Created by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage in response to a number of youth suicides due to bullying, the aim of the project is to inspire hope in young people by telling them life does get better.

So far, more than 50,000 videos have been submitted to the project, including those made by U.S. President Barack Obama and dozens of celebrities.

When the plan to make an RCMP video was brought up, Power said he knew right away he wanted to take part, but had to take some time to think about it. Once his name and face was on the Internet, he would no longer — ever — be able to take part in undercover investigations, something he enjoy­ed.

“I decided it was just a great project and I’d give up doing covert operations. It’s such a great project, it was hard to say no.”

In the video, Power tells of how he came out to his parents — by sending them a letter from Regina. His dad, an RCMP officer for 30 years, had been oblivious to his son’s sexuality but was completely supportive, telling Power he hoped he had never said anything that made him feel like he couldn’t have come out sooner.

 

‘Tears of joy’

Power’s mom, Doris Humphries, said she cried when she read the letter.

“They were tears of joy,” she told The Telegram. “I was so happy he had come to terms with himself and didn’t feel like he had to hide it anymore.”

Humphries said she knew before Power did that he was gay, realizing it through “mother’s intuition” when he was around age four.

Although she never approached him about it as a teenager, she did include homosexuality in her speech when she sat her children down for the standard coming-of-age talk about drugs and sex.

“I made it quite clear that if either of them found out they were gay, I would always support them, even if other people didn’t,” Humphries said.

Humphries is proud of the man her son has become, and of his participation in the video, which she hopes will provide inspiration to youth who may be struggling. She also hopes other parents might take away a message from it.

“Support them, love them and let them know you’ve got their back,” she says as advice to parents about their children, whether gay or straight.

Power hopes young people watching the video will understand that what they may be dealing with at the moment is only a small part of their life.

“Although they may feel isolated and alone now, feelings they may be having of despair are only in this moment of time and aren’t forever,” he explains. “Be true to yourself, hunker down, as silly as that sounds, and just know that things will get better. Don’t make any rash decisions that you can’t take back.

“What you feel right now? As corny as it sounds, it really, really, really does get a heck of a lot better.”

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: RCMP, The Telegram

Geographic location: Regina, Sask., Newfoundland U.S.

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