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Gay candidate resigns over Pride photos on Facebook

Gay candidate resigns over Pride photos on Facebook

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Liberal opponent says photos show 'very poor judgment'
The NDP's gay Vancouver-False Creek candidate, Ray Lam, has stepped down over some sexually playful photos taken at a Pride celebration four years ago.

The resignation came Sunday after Lam's Liberal opponent, Mary McNeil, took exception to the photos, which were tagged on his Facebook site.

One photo shows Lam with his hand on a woman's clothed breast, while the other shows a man and a woman tugging at Lam's underwear while his pants are around his thighs.

"An issue was made regarding inappropriate material on my private Facebook page. I regret this material and the associated comments that have now become public," Lam said in a prepared statement Sunday. "I do not want this to be a distraction in the election campaign and have advised the party that I am stepping down."

McNeil brought the photos to the media's attention early Sunday after she was alerted to them.

"I found them very offensive," she said. "I found them inappropriate and very poor judgment."

McNeil says the photos bring into question Lam's appropriateness as a candidate. She says voters want candidates with good judgment skills.

"I think if people are running for political office they should check to see what's on their Facebook. It does show a little bit of poor judgment but not enough to be turfed as a candidate," counters Ron Stipp, a regional representative with the Canadian Labour Congress and a gay man.

A premier who drives drunk — that's a lapse in judgment, says Stipp. 

But these photos say "nothing about Ray's ability to be a member of the legislative assembly," Stipp says.

"I don't think these photos are a big deal at all," Stipp says. They were taken "at a Pride party where people are having fun. It's a bit odd that this would cause somebody to resign."

Comments online responding to the Globe and Mail's coverage of the story Apr 19 were mixed. Some asked what all the fuss was about ("Seriously BC... how does taking a 'racy' pic with some friends and posting it on what is supposed to be a closed community disqualify one from office? I would say there are a few dozen qualities I'd look first before worrying about this sort of thing. Lighten up," wrote one).

Others found the photos offensive.

"Whatever happened [to] out of the closet homosexuals having some shame?" one person posted. "It seems like if you're not in the closet you have to let the world know your sexual preference with ridiculous behaviour."

"I'm sure they're very embarrassed about this," McNeil says of the NDP.

Lam offered his apologies to James and the party. He declined to comment further at this time.

James could not be reached for comment.

NDP spokesperson Brian Gardiner says it's unfortunate Lam had to step down. "Obviously, it's difficult for him," he says.

NDP president Jeff Fox says the party will nominate a new Vancouver-False Creek candidate in the next few days.

This was Lam's first run for public office after an unsuccessful bid for a Vision Vancouver nomination to run for city council last November.

Lam was acclaimed to be the New Democrat candidate for the provincial riding last month.

The Vancouver-False Creek riding was created when the old Vancouver-Burrard riding was divided in a constituency re-organization this year.

The other new riding is Vancouver-West End where Vancouver-Burrard NDP incumbent Spencer Herbert is running against Liberal Laura McDiarmid.

Lam had hoped to focus on cuts to social services, not just in his own riding but across the province this election. He says the cuts have impacted gay organizations such as Youthquest, which folded a few years ago.

Lam is also concerned about the development of the northeast section of False Creek, between BC Place and Science World which, he says, needs more community input.



— With files from Robin Perelle

Comments

Clarification
Well, strangely enough I do hope Ray grows and finds his political feet. He just needs to learn how to be a better leader, listen to who he is supposed to be representing and reign in the hounds who have now diluted this thread in an attempt to defer the spotlight from the true issue, Ray Lam. This is a tactic I have seen many times before. Indeed Mr. Lam was admonished for inappropriate garb at a Youth Dance and promised, then president John Boychuk, that he wouldn't do it again. I have a letter on my harddrive from Mr. Boychuk admitting to such. I'd be happy to share it with any media that asks. So I am not here pushing some kind of personal vendetta but merely wish to point out that the actions by Mr. Lam as stated in the above article is not a singular event, but a pattern of behaviour that is relevant to understanding who he is as a leader. Good for him for trying and hopefully he'll come back stronger and wiser.
He made the right decision.
It's an election. It's a fight between ideas, methods, and priorities. Ray Lam understood his role as a soldier and was a casualty. He didn't do anything wrong...the photos are pretty innocuous - I've seen more provocative vacation photos. But he obviously knew the potential for this issue to explode into a major distraction and he sacrificed his campaign to help the NDP. That's pretty black and white. It's not about whether or not the photos were positive or negative, light hearted fun or damning evidence...it was about keeping people focused on issues and not bullshit distractions. He did good in my books. I'm not an NDP supporter, but I would support Ray Lam. It's all about how you deal with the bullshit; He took the high road.
Caught In His Underwear Again
Unfortunately what Mr. Emery fails to mention above (since I am one of the moderators of the Facebook Oversight Group) is that this is the second time (technically the first) Mr. Lam as a director for Pride has been caught in his underwear. The other time was showing up in his underwear at a youth dance which he was subsequently asked to leave in 2007. This shows poor judgement at best. Honestly though, I'm not caring so much he ran around in his underwear it's just that I'm not surprised on the mainstream public reaction. As a gay candidate hasn't he learned that in mainstream politics he must hold himself at a higher level of scrutiny? He must learn to be better than his opponents and not give them opportunity to make it a gay or novice issue. I wish him luck in the future. Oh, and Stephen accuse us of leaking a photo? How petty are you? Who's slagging now?
What's with the mudslinging?
It's just a picture - what does this have to do with his academic credentials or political potential? Do the Libs seriously have NO OTHER MATERIAL WHATSOEVER to use in their campaign against the NDPs that they have to resort to someone's Facebook pictures? Pathetic.
McNeil an accessory to a crime?
NDP candidate Lam's four year old saucy photos were somehow obtained and released by Mary McNeil, Liberal candidate. Where the pictures hacked from Facebook? Is McNeil an accessory to a crime?
THis old Photo comes out now?
An example of comments made by some of Ray's UNfriends at the Facebook group: Vancouver Pride Society Oversight [under a link to the Globe and Mail story with Ray's photo] "Surprise surprise. Ray Lam caught inappropriately in his underwear... AGAIN. When are people gonna realize that he's not good leadership material..." [clipped] The thing is, this pic is not "AGAIN". If you look closely at the Pride ID tags the people are wearing, the tags say "Pride and Joy". That was the theme of the 2006 Pride Parade. This means that this photo is already 2.5 years old! So the underwear issue that this Pride Oversight group writer alludes to as "Again" is not a new alleged impropriety. It seems to me like the same impropriety - Ray frockling in underwear at a Pride event - that this oversight group and some former members of the Pride Committee were complaining to me about a year ago in various emails (which I still have on my HD) and on this Facebook Group quoted above! With all this "oversight" being done on Ray's whiteys by people who say "When are people gonna realize that he's not good leadership material and no matter what HE writes on his website about how great he is, he's just another egocentric jerk blowing hot air up everyone's butts"... are people asking me to believe some neocon found this OLD picture (and issue) all by herself?
Political Enemies
Let's face it. Ray Lam has political enemies even within our own LGBT community who would be more than happy to leak this photo in my humble and jaded opinion. I mean, I remember having read about Ray vaguely accused of impropriety, maybe having to do with his underwear, just before the Pride Parade last summer. It originated on a Facebook group page criticizing the Vancouver Pride Society before it was removed (though I saved copies on my own hard drive). Is it a coincidence this "scandal" comes out as Ray is running for office a year later? Is it only a neocon Liberal ploy and not from within the rainbow? Maybe. But it all smells so much of queer jockstrap deja vous.
A sign of things to come
This is just the beginning in a new era of politics. Once something that is posted on the internet or a social networking site like Facebook. The whole world can see it. Sometimes it might take a bit of work but you can find it. Are the photo's really "that bad" well no, but they do show the "unprofessional"/personal side of a candidate. It will be interesting to see how Canadian politics is effected by this, when we start getting more young candidates running.
A sign of things to come
This is just the beginning in a new era of politics. Once something that is posted on the internet or a social networking site like Facebook. The whole world can see it. Sometimes it might take a bit of work but you can find it. Are the photo's really "that bad" well no, but they do show the "unprofessional"/personal side of a candidate. It will be interesting to see how Canadian politics is effected by this, when we start getting more young candidates running.
healthy sexuality
remember, the Nazi's started rather innocuously too. prudish Victorian "morals" stifle creativity and force behaviors the should be chosen rather than dictated. M?

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