The Days Before Tomorrow. 30 Years Later and a Call to Action

It’s now 11 years and a week or so since she passed, and now 30 years since that fateful summer when we first met. That special relationship put myself and her children on a path that I never could have foreseen.

Though lovers be lost

Though lovers be lost. I never forgot this poem as it always reminded me of her.

I haven’t written much about the kids this year, especially as I’ve only seen them twice. As I’ve explained, they’re not mine through blood or law, but they are of my heart nevertheless. In every way that truly matters to me and to them, we are family, and they’ve taught me so much about how it is to be a proud father.

Terry completed his stage in Las Vegas, and then extended it, and then extended it once again. He’s on leave of absence from culinary school now, simply because he was encouraged to travel and learn under some of the best in the culinary world. He’s in England, doing a stage on a culinary level that simply stuns me. There are no words I can express to describe the heights he will achieve.

Georgia is in year 2 studying law, the very degree her own mother couldn’t complete due to the events long ago. In a moment of face palm humor and frustration, she continues to show the stubbornness, passion and brilliance that her mom possessed. You see, she introduced to me her new boyfriend, another Chinese kid who I swear resembles me a little. But this time, he seems to genuinely love her, and they met through the same law program. Of course, I warned him as a father to take good care of her or else, but he already knew better than to upset her. She’s going to be brilliant, but I admittedly look forward to see her walk the aisle in a white dress.

Every Dad's Dream

Every Dad’s Dream

But that’s not the purpose of this blog, and why I returned to the Days. The real story is why that chance meeting 30 years ago continues to guide my life even now.

As you’ve probably read, I’m running for office now. I wasn’t planning to, but I discovered that I had to. There’s the classic saying, “All it takes for Evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” But while I subscribe to such dramatic thoughts, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it far better:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve always tried to be a defender for others. I see that the highest aspiration of a person is to serve his or her fellow citizen and found that the problems we see in life is very often rooted in silence. I simply want to serve my city, my home and make it just a little better each day, and to speak out to hopefully inspire others to act and do the same.

Now, I have a chance to serve and make a real difference on a great scale. There are so many causes that matter to me. Education. Equality rights. The future of Calgary. Small business. My friends and family. So many and more… and to make a difference, I choose to stop being someone who spoke from the audience into someone who wants to speak truth to power. This truly unique opportunity has come up, an invitation to run for office and have a voice where it matters.

Why am I standing up for what I believe in, when others could have been content from the sidelines? It was Terry who inspired me. He took the chance and had the bravery to come out to me, telling me a truth where so many other children found themselves ostracized, beaten, abused or even banished as my friend, photographer Kelly Hofer. With this decision, he showed me what true bravery was, and why I fight now.

One summer long ago, my first love and I kissed. It was a cheeky french kiss at a time where I was helpless while pretending to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. It was a kiss full of mischief, joy and bold acts of young love and sweet moments. It put me on a path, through her legacy, that guided me to this moment of perfect clarity and the bravery to act.

The First Kiss

The First Kiss

To my wife, my friends, my city, the people of Calgary-Glenmore, and the bravery of a young man who I love as my own son, I dedicate myself to serve, to inspire others, and most importantly, I choose to lead. I am Terry Lo, a dreamer fighting to make a great Calgary into reality, and I want to be your MLA.  And this is a call to action to all, and I beg of you to stop being neutral or silent. Help me, be brave and stand up and act.

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The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow, The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

A Statement of Belief and Defense of Principle

Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.

Wild Rose 2014 Resignation Letter – Click Here to Read

I’ve always seen myself as a fiscal conservative, but socially liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, responsible use of the public purse and more. But I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a strong supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and a firm rejection of organized religion. I would suppose that would make me a moderate of sorts. I also try to emulate and follow a modern version of chivalry, whereas the highest aspirations of a person should be in service of others, and built a name in support of charity and goodwill in Calgary. I despise anyone who will not support the strength of their convictions, and I really do try to back my own acts come what may.

Until the WildRose, there really was/is no alternative to the PC Party. The Liberal and NDP parties are ineffective at best, absolutely forgettable at worse. I joined in 2009 and helped here and there and saw the party fortunes rise in the run up to 2012. In the belief of true libertarianism, where individual rights are more important than political expediency in the Lake of Fire debacle, leader Danielle Smith showed me true strength of character if not necessarily political realism. The party ended up managing to seize the jaws of defeat from total victory. But from that, a statement of equality (to atone of sorts) came from it, one that was truly inclusive. I believed I had found my place politically AND potentially ethically as well.

Even when the WildRose actually joined with the PC to vote down a bill to give LGBT youth a place to be safe, with that statement, I believed I might have been able to play a some sort of role to help shift social beliefs to create a truly inclusive party that can run Alberta responsibly. But alas, it was in the recent by-elections that I soon found myself encountering serious doubts.

At the Glenmore Inn election rally in October, I was going around talking to rank and file members to get an idea of what sort of issues they were encountering while door to door knocking. One thing they kept encountering among potential voters was doubt that the WildRose had put the Lake of Fire truly in the past. In face to face and online talks, I had spoken with other WildRose members who truly believed that any animosity of perception of racism and intolerance was over. But being a member of a sports team with gay members, and looking around at random WR events, I knew this was far from the truth. What was sad was this was confirmed as I walked around. But in those several chats, what especially disturbed me was that LGBT people were described as “uppity” and “whiners”. This wasn’t a bad joke, or even a casual careless statement. Looking at each face, it was an honest belief. Needless to say, I was actually angry, no more like pissed and furious, on TV as I was positioned to stand right behind Danielle at the rally. I was close to storming off that day, but calmed down by the end of her speech.

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were "uppity"

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were “uppity”

The more I was talking with members after the event, I was honestly horrified to see how truly clueless so many of them were about how WR was being perceived (though I admittedly was thinking more in terms of how to get the right message out to the voters AND the members). But with a useless slogan (send the PCs a message), the use of negative ads (which has proven to disenchanted voters in the US) and a surprising rise by the Alberta Party in Calgary – Foothills with a message of hope, I realized that the party might have been hijacked by the right-wing and was shifting right. I still had some hope that this might just be a bad sampling and only representative of individual opinions until this weekend.

This past weekend at the AGM, the party, either in the misguided misunderstanding that nothing LESS than the statement of equality would do after the Lake of Fire event, or out of genuine desire to swing far right, actually BACKTRACKED and voted out the 2013 statement that affirmed and protected HUMAN RIGHTS.

In that moment, the party actually went against their leader and the recommendation of the MLAs, and basically said “screw you” to groups that have never felt included, or protected adequately compared to the white, christian majority. And the sad part, the membership seems to be falling on the argument that the more generic “ALL” statement supported is more than adequate. It’s far from that. In an ideal world, where peace reigns and harmony rises upon the streets, then it would be. But not a single member can comprehend ever the fear of a LGBT or minority kid who’s been beat up by another kid who belongs to that majority. As this vote proves to many outside of the party, “All” in the context of a Wild “Lake of Fire” Rose means the same as the famous statement in Orwell’s Animal Farm: ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

This vote confirmed to me that the misguided angry beliefs of a minority of the rank and file holds actual sway in party policy. I’ve since spoken to another notable ethnic member who confirmed a similar experience as well over years. Ideologically, I believe now that the party is swinging far right again on social issues, and as such, totally in opposition to my own beliefs. And ANY party that visibly does not protect my son, is one that has lost my support, and in fact, earned my opposition.

I’ve been asked to stay, to reconsider and try to rebuild from scratch and be a part of the culture. I can’t. I wouldn’t ever be able to face my friends and my son with any pride or self-respect. To me, to serve in WildRose while it shifts right is an act of cowardice and insults those I love and care for. But I will find a way to serve, even if it means finding some way to reform through another party, or as a voice on the sidelines.

It’s time to reassess my political direction in this province that I love and dedicated myself to better for all. Just a funny thing to mention though, I worked to get elected VP Communications because I wanted the right message about the WildRose to get across. As my first major act as VP Comm, I believe I actually did just that, by sending a farewell message to the party.

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One minor addendum. I actually did wonder briefly tonight if I should walk away quietly and not go any further. Then a particular malcontent and probably misguided fellow started to attack me relentlessly on Twitter board. I won’t mention his name, but his idea of insults are actually a badge of honour. He reminded me of the people I spoke to at the Rally… and as a result, I walk away proudly. And I won’t be silent.

(11-22-2014 Special note: There’s been a few questions that emerged over this whole tempest in a teapot. I’ve written a follow up blog piece that’s probably too long, a bit dull, but should clarify some things. You can read AFTER THE WILDROSE STORM here. )