Tim Stevenson receives Outstanding Alumni Award

A look into a long-time Vancouver politician and gay rights activist's life


Reported by Joe Ayres 

Politician, ordained minister and gay rights activist Tim Stevenson has received the Outstanding Alumni award from Langara College.

“As a gay person, 20 years ago they would not have been holding me up saying, ‘Hey guess what? we have this gay activist’”, Stevenson said. “It’s kind of amazing how far things have come that a gay activist would get an outstanding alumni award.”

Unlike other post-secondary institutions, Stevenson found Langara welcoming

Stevenson took general studies while at Langara before going to UBC for religious studies, the subject he has now taught for 25 years. He was one of the students to participate in the original great trek when Langara moved to it’s current location on 49th avenue in 1972.

“I want to try to relay to students that anything is possible, you can do it. Believe me, if I can do it anybody can do it. I am by no means special in any way at all,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson also commended Langara for its welcoming atmosphere.

“Going to university is intimidating and I think Langara is a lot less intimidating,” he said.

First openly gay minister in Canada to be ordained

Stevenson entered politics in 1995 and became B.C.’s first openly gay MLA and Canada’s first openly gay cabinet minister. In 2002 he was elected to Vancouver city council, he held the position until he retired from politics this year.

Stevenson is also the first openly gay minister to be ordained in Canada. In 2003 he performed the first same-sex marriage in B.C. The ceremony was performed on the courthouse steps, moments after same-sex marriage became legal in the province.

Janet Gearchambers, a colleague and fellow minister of Stevenson’s said she is happy that students at Langara are being taught by Stevenson.

“Young people are spending a semester with him thinking about spiritual life. Langara couldn’t have had anyone more able for that task in a way that has such authenticity, integrity, openness, and curiosity,” she said.

“I think we should have a lot of gratitude for him in Vancouver,” said Anne Kristiansen, a professor who works closely with Stevenson at Langara.

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