debate has to be based on empathy and love. I had the pleasure of
interviewing Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, the first gay men in
North American to claim to be married. They are very fine people.
Kind, clever and compassionate... I would defend them against oppression,
abuse and threat. But equally, I will tell them I cannot condone
their actions. To their great credit, they accepted this disagreement,
knowing, I think, that all three of us had no hatred in our hearts."
Michael Coren, Columnist and Christian TV talk show
host The Toronto Sun, July 6, 2002
news: the marriages of the Vautours and Bourassa/Varnell
Bourassa and Joe Varnell became international advocates when their
January 14, 2001 marriage, and
subsequent legal challenge, captured world headlines. They have
written a critically acclaimed book about their wedding, "Just
Married", published by Doubleday in Canada and by
the University of Wisconsin Press in the United States of America.
A French translation of Just Married was published by Les
Éditions Stanké in 2003.
(b. 1958) Born in Saskatoon, and raised in Ontario, France, and Germany,
Kevin moved to Toronto in 1976 to attend university. School was soon
overshadowed by opportunities in radio and print media. Kevin turned
to more conventional employment, in the 1980s, working as a
computer programmer and analyst. The 1990s brought a transition
out of information technology and into banking, where Kevin specialized
in process management. Beginning in 2002, Kevin was a full-time advocate
for marriage equality until 2005. He now works in a bank's Internet
Customs officials at Pearson International Airport in Canada were
able to stop the latest pair of 'domestic terrorists.' Kevin Bourassa
and Joe Varnell attempted to enter the United States Thursday as
a married couple ..."
Concerned Women For America, "Homosexuals Pose
New Threat to U.S.
Border Security", Sept. 24, 2003
(b.1969), a Toronto native son, discovered the awesome potential of
a classical education early in life. Armed with a thorough knowledge
of the history and drama of Elizabeths England,
Joe naturally turned to teaching and playing bridge for a living.
He continued in this mainstream career until he met the man of his
dreams and returned to school to become a web developer. After working
on the web sites of a financial institution, and a consumer electronics
company, Joe is now a consultant (Content Architecture), in a bank's
Internet technology group.
Bourassa and Joe Varnell are two very courageous pioneers blazing
a trail that is raising awareness of all that it means to be gay and
who are educating, advocating and making this province, and indeed
country, a better place to live in for all of us."
The Voice - Editorial
Kevin and Joe have travelled to Europe, the U.S.A., and across Canada,
advocating marriage equality through appearances,
fundraisers, parades, speeches, and rallies. The couple are members
of the Coalition For Marc Hall
and they are active in building other alliances in and outside of
the gay community.
and Kevin were on the 2002 faculty of the International Lesbian
and Gay Law Association's conference
on marriage, partnerships and parenting (Turin, Italy), and
they were featured authors at the 2002 Ottawa International Writers
Festival. They worked in 14 cities, gave over 85 interviews, and
spoke at 9 universities and colleges.
2003 their engagements included:
and Varnell continue to live in the public eye, giving speeches and
granting interviews till all things are equal for gay couples." The
Oct. 7, 2004
from Just Married on the Lambda Wilde About Sappho
literary tour (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto),
at Borders and Boundaries law symposium (organized by Spinlaw:
University of Toronto Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School),
a 7-city pride speaking/appearance tour, with the honour of being
grand marshals for parades in London,
Halifax and Saint
human rights workshops at an ecumenical gathering of Christians
in Philadelphia (WOW2003), and
as panelists at the Gill Foundation's OutGiving 2003 conference
and Kevin's activities in 2004 included:
at George Brown College (Toronto).
Toronto and Haliafax Pride parades.
the keynote address at Equality California's annual awards (San
at the University of Buffalo (New York).
on two panel discussions at Equality Forum (Philadelphia).
a seminar in Toronto: Lessons in Telling Our Stories: messages
for a community on the verge of equality.
are widely published authors, with an appeal to a diverse audience.
journey of Bourassa and Varnell may well become one of those defining
moments of courage. The moment that raised our threshold of awareness
and sparked righteous indignation that may become the catalyst for
Nov. 11, 2003
writing has appeared in an assortment of commercial magazines and
adjudicated academic publications, including the international journal
Feminism & Psychology (Sage Publications, U.K.), and
the historic University of New Brunswick Law Journal. The
couple have accepted invitations to speak at many universities,
colleges and institutes including:
Dalhousie Law School
George Brown College
Mount Allison University
Mount Saint Vincent University
Pennsylvania Bar Institute
St. Thomas University
University at Buffalo
- The State University of New York
University of New Bunswick
University of New Brunswick Law School
University of New Hampshire
University of Ottawa
2004 Gaiety.ca Magazine designated the couple as "Leaders
of Distinction", the California State Assembly presented
Kevin and Joe a Certificate
of Recognition, and Equality California gave the couple the
2004 Creating History Award
for their contribution to equal marriage. In
2005 they received the Metropolitan Community Church's Founder's
Award, and they were among an esteemed list of international GLBT
leaders, past and present, honoured at Equality Forum's celebration
of civil rights leaders: "40
years, 40 heroes".
pioneers thrust into the forefront of the gay rights movement in Canada
in this young millennium, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell are definitely
blazing a trail in our storied history. A history and movement that
continues to witness Canada leading the way for the world." Voice Magazine,
2006 the couple were presented CIBC's Diversity
Award for "unwavering commitment to changing mindsets in
the face of opposition and hatred; for reaching out to others who are
struggling with issues of identity at work; and for your courage in changing
the world in your own way ..."
couple love to cook at home with friends. For adventure, they like to
travel or explore the arts together, as consumers and creators. The two
were executive producers for a classical music CD featuring The
Onyx Wind Quintet (1999).
and Joe hope to foster additional projects in the arts, long into their
twilight years. They share their home with Daphne,
sister of the late Chloe