What Orlando taught me about truth, courage — and love

CityNews reporter Avery Haines on the importance of living her life openly

Avery Haines and family outside Toronto City Hall. (Avery Haines)

Avery Haines and family outside Toronto City Hall. (Avery Haines)

I’ve posted one photo on Facebook of my daughter’s grade 8 graduation; some videos of my freakish hairless cats. I’ve tweeted about the crazy places in the world I’ve travelled. Other than that my public life has been pretty much private. I tell myself it’s not a conscious decision. That it’s my inner bristle at the oversharing phenomenon, where every moment is plastered online. Where we all seem to know each other a little too well, without really knowing each other at all.

And then Orlando.

I have nothing to say about what happened that you haven’t already read or felt, or perhaps still feel, despite our short attention spans for tragedy.

Orlando happened eight weeks and one day after I got married. It was a small ceremony. And it was a surprise. As in, Mel didn’t know. The ruse was this: a fancy birthday dinner out and a faked emergency stop at City Hall for “a story I was working on.” We walked out of the third-floor elevator into the wedding chamber, and Mel still wasn’t sure what was happening. It only sunk in when my three kids, standing at the altar, enveloped us both in a tangle of hugs. The answer, through a stream of tears, was “Yes.” My kids insist that Mel married them that day, as well as me.

It was my 20-year-old son who suggested the surprise wedding as a birthday present: “Mum, Mel is our family. It should be official.” On the day of the wedding, my 15-year-old daughter and I had a magical day, while Mel thought I was at work. We went to the hair salon, raced out to get a dress and laughed at the sheer folly of a surprise wedding. My 12-year-old son and I jokingly played out what-if-the-answer-is-no scenarios.

I’m lucky to have loved and been loved throughout my life. Boyfriends, a husband, parents, siblings, friends and my children. But this is a love I had never experienced before. The truest of loves, a love that has survived and flourished over years—from its infancy as a secret to its maturity in marriage. It’s a love that has been embraced by my 81-year-old mum. A love that I know my dad would have cherished as well. One that had been accepted for years by my friends, colleagues, neighbours and bosses.

It’s a love that some of you hate. And tears are pouring down my face as I write those words. How could something so authentic, so beautiful and so right be a target for hate?

Mel is a woman.

And it’s 2016.

And coming-out stories are so 1990s.

But I went to a memorial in Toronto shortly after the Orlando massacre, and over and over again I heard about the importance of “taking up space,” of living lives openly.

You may think there is no reason for me to share this. Orlando is a reminder that victories for a love like ours can be short. As long as people are living in fear, there’s a reason to tell stories like mine.

I expect there may be some hate coming my way.

But unlike many, I have little to lose in sharing my love with you. I won’t be shunned by my family, as many are. I’m not risking my career, as many still do. I share my love with you because I hope it’s big enough to reach the kid who is being tormented, or those who are doing the tormenting. I hope it reaches the parent who just can’t accept that a love like mine can be filled with family and success and acceptance. And I’m sharing this love with you because I believe, in every last fibre of my being, that it is through the sharing of love that we make true the most beautiful statement of all: love conquers hate.

Avery Haines is a reporter, anchor and host for CityNews in Toronto. 

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What Orlando taught me about truth, courage — and love

  1. The spiritual truth of love is no where better understood than between parents and their children. That’s why “honour your parents” is the one commandment that comes with a blessing. Avery Haines is an example in her article above, as is Michael Coren who has referenced his joy re: his grown-up children in his change of heart and mind, which now agree with his offspring’s view of the spiritual truth of love in same-sex marriage. And that’s why many people are accepting it, because it holds that spiritual truth.

    So, good on Avery Haines, to be open about this spiritual truth.

    This spiritual truth is also why love has been popularized in marriage — while there have always been marriages with love, it has not always been the case (and remains so in various parts of the world today) to have the popular expectation that marriage and love should be intertwined, though whether it had ever been the case before it was lost can only be guessed at.

    Now, get this, the Christian Scriptures is the greatest love story ever told: (1) Jesus Christ is the groom, and the ‘ecclesia’ is the bride; (2) Jesus said that the Hebrew Scriptures testify about him, (3) from the very beginning of the Scriptures, it said that God made them male and female. So, for the Christians (the ecclesia), Jesus is their ultimate counterpart, as promised in the Hebrew Scriptures, through the sign that God left in all his creation: the male and female counterparts.

    Now, a riff on counterparts in response to the concern being addressed in this article: the hate that you perceive to be against love’s spiritual truth in same-sex marriage also has a counterpart — this counterpart is the hate that can be perceived to be against the spiritual truth of the love in the promise of Jesus to the ecclesia.

    • *the greatest love story BEING told

  2. LOVE IS LOVE! What a fantastic story. Well worth the read, I am so happy I did.

  3. What a babbling crock of BS this article is. Orlando was organized and carried out be Islamic ISIS backed Muslim Terrorists. The sooner the PC world realized, nay, admits this, the sooner the people will wake up. Trudeau, Obama and their ilk wouldn’t say Muslim terrorist in fear of losing a vote. It’s happening every day people. It’s just a matter of time until it happens in Canada..again. RIP Cpl Cirillo and WO Vincent.

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