John Campey became a trustee assistant in 1985 for the Toronto Board of Education and then as a Trustee for the Down. The first openly gay candidate nominated for a major political party in Ontario Campey lost his riding of St. George/St. David in 1987 in the provincial election to Ian Scott, the Attorney Genera.
Campey used his leadership role with the school board to draft the first resource document challenging homophobia and repealed a ban on queer speakers in schools. He also saw a problem in the school setting, queer youth were being bullied and dropping out. He knew something had to be done about that. In 1992 he inaugurated an official Board Consultative Committee on the Education of Lesbian and Gay Students. The results from their work resulted in an alternative school for queer students. The Triangle Program is now 16 years old. It is still the only 'gay' school in Canada, a safe haven for students who can't cope with the barriers that they face in other public schools.
This afternoon Campey, along with James Ryan and Leanne Iskander, was awarded the Hope & Freedom Award during a high tea ceremony in support of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC).
Campey said that his role in the beginning of The Triangle Program was more like a wedding planner than creator. He had the focus of the alternative school but needed a place for it to be housed. That's where MCC entered the picture. Campey approached MCC's Rev. Brent Hawkes about the school. Long story short, sixteen years ago The Triangle Program opened up in the basement of MCC, where it remains today. In the beginning the school was an office and large room for classes. Since 2009 that space has been transformed into three classrooms and office space.
Today John Campey is the Executive Director for Social Planning Toronto. He is an active member of the Triangle Community Council, lending his wisdom at monthly meetings to help increase the school's vision and finacial barriers.
Campey was joined at today's event by partner Jefferson Guzman and their parents.
John was his humble self during the event, pushing off the credit to others. His speech was motivational and included a few zingers, including one at Toronto's current mayor's no show at this year's Pride Parade.
Sitting at the tables were noted members of Ontario in attendance like MP Olivia Chow, Eleanor McCain and John Vespa.
The event was a fundraiser for MCC with David Bronskill, a partner at Goodmans LLP, giving the call to wallets speech. Bronskill is the guardian on one of the refugee's being sponsored by MCC Saif Al Manam, who arrived in Toronto in 2009 from Iran.
The proceeds from the event will allow MCC to continue their calling for the Toronto area and beyond creating a safe haven for all, no matter what their sexual orientation may be.