LGBTQ+ Rights activist feted at book launch

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NEW GLASGOW — Gerard Veldhoven says he feels fortunate to have been able to share his life experiences in print.

The local activist officially launched his recently published book called A Passion for Equality: My Personal Journey, last Friday at Glasgow Square during an event hosted by the New Glasgow UNESCO Inclusive Communities Committee.

George Henaut was master of ceremonies and was joined by a number of people who offered remarks and tributes on Veldhoven’s behalf.

“I can’t speak for very long due to my lung condition,” Veldhoven said before the program began. The effects of pulmonary fibrosis have confined him to a wheelchair and his breathing is assisted.

Veldhoven explained that writing the book was a long journey within his life journey.

“The book has been a long time coming,” he said. “I started it initially 15 years ago. I started writing columns, but last spring I decided to stop writing the columns and went back to the book. I found (the book) was completely inadequate, so I started all over again. In 15 years, things change.”

Veldhoven said he is pleased with the end product, including the cover which his son Mark designed.

“I’m very pleased with it,” he said.

Veldhoven was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada with his family when he was 15.

One passage from the book that Veldhoven called Looking Back includes an account of his original marriage and a family and later his ground-breaking marriage in 2004 to Norman Carter in what he described as the first such public, legal same-sex marriage ceremony in Nova Scotia.

Veldhoven was living in Amherst at the time but decided to move to Pictou County in 2010 after Carter’s passing.

Besides assorted readings from the book, New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks shared greetings on behalf of the committee and the town, while Pauline Henaut accompanied Lee Bezanson, who sang Love Changes Everything.

Valerie Ferguson and Brendan Lank recited awards Veldhoven has received and quotations of special recognition.