Pam Rocker works to build affirming faith communities in Calgary. Photo: Jeremy Klaszus

Sprawlcast Ep 15: God, Gays & GSAs

What does real change look like?

On week 2 of the Alberta election campaign, UCP leader Jason Kenney set off a culture war by reopening the debate on gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools.

He also says his views on LGBTQ2+ rights have changed since he boasted, in 2000, about his involvement in a religious effort to block hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples at the height of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco.

We ask: What does real change look like?

In the first part of this Sprawlcast episode, Taylor Lambert interviews Laurie Moore, who squared off against Kenney over abortion and freedom of speech when they were students at the University of San Francisco. Kenney seized upon a pro-choice petition, turning it into a campus culture war that garnered national attention (read Part 1 of Taylor's investigation here; Part 2 examines Kenney's activism against gay rights).

When I look at a person like Jason Kenney, if he’s backing off of these things, there should be some really clear indication that he’s backing off. Not just words.

Laurie Moore

"When I look at a person like Jason Kenney, if he's backing off of these things, there should be some really clear indication that he's backing off," said Moore. "Not just words."

"If he's saying, 'Well I've become more tolerant'—well, those are words. So what has he done? Has he done any legislation in support of people so that there's no discrimination against them?"

In the second part of this episode, Jeremy interviews activist Pam Rocker, director of Affirming Connections. Rocker works to build affirming faith communities in Calgary.

Like Kenney, she grew up in an ultraconservative religious environment and is familiar with "feeling like you have to fight for what you believe without any consideration of how it affects other people."

"I think it's really sad but moreover, it's really scary," said Rocker. "Because I know what's possible when people are in those places. Not only what's possible, but we see what's historical—what he's done."

"And so we can only imagine what he's capable of doing when he has more power and control."

The Sprawl requested an interview with Kenney for this episode, but received no response from the UCP.

Full transcript of episode

JEREMY: The Sprawl is crowdfunded by members. Most people kick in just five or 10 dollars a month, and if you sign up now you'll get a copy of our limited-run Spring 2019 newspaper – a real newspaper. You can sign up here. Thanks for considering it.


JEREMY: You're listening to Sprawlcast. My name is Jeremy Klaszus, and I'm the founder and editor of The Sprawl, and Sprawlcast is made in collaboration with CJSW 90.9 FM in Calgary, and we're broadcasting on Treaty 7 land. This is the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut'ina Nation, the Stoney Nakoda Nation, and this place is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3.

LAURIE MOORE: People's opinions can change, but when they do, they're generally … they're generally more overt about it, I guess I would say – that there needs to be some indication that they've done something else that's different.

JEREMY: All right, so in this episode of Sprawlcast, we are talking religion and repentance. Now, I gotta be honest with you, if you would have asked me a month ago if we would be talking about this in the middle of an election campaign, I would have thought, no. But here we are. It's an election issue: how leaders use religion – or misuse it. How they treat the most vulnerable members of our society. And underlying everything is this question: What does it mean to change – really change? And what does true repentance look like, and contrition, and humility?

On March 28th, hundreds of Calgarians rallied in support of legislation that protects students that join gay-straight alliances, or GSAs. I'd actually been out of town at the time. I had taken a few days with my family for spring break, and I was surprised that when I got back we had our own culture war happening in Alberta, started by UCP leader Jason Kenney, who wants to change the legislation.

It all seemed rather familiar.

At the start of the election campaign, The Sprawl ran an investigation by Taylor Lambert into Jason Kenney's activism as a student at the University of San Francisco. He was very involved with the religious right, and he was involved with an effort to keep gay men from visiting their dying partners in hospital at the height of the AIDS crisis.

The other part of his activism with the religious right was around abortion, and a group of women on the University of San Francisco campus had set up a table one day for a pro-choice petition, and Kenney seized on this and turned it into a huge controversy that garnered national media attention. Laurie Moore was one of the women behind that petition, and Taylor Lambert spoke with her at her home in San Francisco earlier this year.

LAURIE MOORE: The thing that sets Kenney apart, I think, from everybody else is that he is the one who really pushed the … He pushed an ecclesiastical petition – petition to Rome – to try to get the University decertified as a university, as a Catholic university. He basically was saying, they don't have a right to bear that name if they're going to allow abortion-on-demand rabble-rousers to run amok. And again, that's the way he was characterizing this whole thing, whether he used those words or not. Because otherwise, nobody would have gone that far.

TAYLOR LAMBERT: Would you still go get that table and organize that petition again?

MOORE: Very sadly, no… For me, the outcome is so much broader knowing that Jason Kenney has been able to go up in Canadian politics, not having gotten a degree as far as I know, and essentially putting himself in the forefront in the same way that he co-opted this whole situation. I mean, did he do this for publicity? Did he have in mind a political career? And sometimes it doesn't matter whether publicity is good or bad when people hear your name.

I mean, I really hate to say that, you know? And it's very hard to let the bullies win. And probably I'm such an idiot, I would have done the same thing, don't matter what.

LAMBERT: What do you mean?

MOORE: I mean it would be very hard for me to not do the right thing, even if I knew … I mean, we all know there are going to be consequences in life. You know, one of my favorite things is Antigone … this is probably too erudite, but … Antigone basically has the choice to follow the law or to do the right thing and face the consequences. And I'm not saying that I was going outside the law, because I was trying to follow the law. But the point is, when you push back against powerful people – however they get that power – it's very difficult to do.

JEREMY: This whole campus controversy had quite a negative effect on Laurie Moore's life. You can read the whole story on our website at

As part of his reporting, Taylor reached out to Jason Kenney with a list of questions about his activism in San Francisco and what has changed since, and here's what Kenney said in his response. This is a quote:

I am running to get Alberta's economy back to work in the 2020s, not to relitigate campus controversies from my time as a teenager in the 1980s.

Now, I'm going to jump in here and say he actually wasn't a teenager when all this was happening. He was in his early 20s. Anyways, continuing the quote:

Like most people, my views on various questions were in flux as a teenager.

Now, he goes on to talk about how his views have changed, which he says:

… I think is normal for most people as they mature. To be honest, in retrospect I wish that I had spent a lot more time on my studies, and a lot less time on politics and campus controversies at that time.

So what does it mean to change? Well, Taylor asked Laurie Moore that question in San Francisco.

MOORE: When I think of Jason Kenney and his vehemence at that point … I mean, the fact … It doesn't really matter that he was a young man. In other words – I mean, from my perspective – people's opinions can change, but when they do, they're generally … they're generally more overt about it, I guess I would say – that there needs to be some indication that they've done something else that's different from that situation.

And so when I look at person like Jason Kenney, if he's backing off of these things, then I'm thinking, okay, again, there should be some … a really clear indication that he's backing off – not just words, like where he's saying, you know … Again, in the situation of LBGT rights, okay, if he's saying, well, I've become more tolerant, well, those are words. I mean, so what has he done? Has he done any legislation in support of people so that there's no discrimination against them?

And I think that's a better measure than abortion, because I understand that people have strong feelings about abortion, so I don't expect him to be going out and doing pro-choice work, but what I would wonder is, if he has the opportunity to push back against it politically, would he do it? And I think that question maybe should be asked of him.

I guess I don't understand why we can't judge people for what they say, right? I mean, what they say and do. I don't know how you escape that. I mean, we all make mistakes, and if we make mistakes, then we need to sincerely try to do something, you know, different. So it worries me that we … You know, again, we all vote for people, and nobody's going to be perfect, because that's another weird thing that everybody's … You know, we're all always putting down politicians. Well, they have to have some method to get re-elected, and they're not going to be consistent all the time for a variety of reasons, which we all know, right? They have to do handoffs … I mean, if anybody's done anything, you know, been on the PTA or whatever you do, working with other people or being in a family, working with other people is very difficult, and I understand that.

But there's some bar at which discerning people have to say: Does this pass the smell test? And I don't think this guy passes the smell test, okay? I haven't followed everything about his career, but I just don't see how somebody could be that vehement and so angry and not feel some of that. Or maybe he's more polished now and so his emotions don't come to the forefront as much, but … Well, the anger level is scary, because that's one issue, and that's one scary issue for the people on the other end of it. The insidiousness of wrapping it up in a bow but doing the same kinds of things that you're doing, that's scarier, too, in a certain way. It's propaganda, from my perspective.

LAMBERT: In your debate with him, and in the public discourse of this broader debate that you had with him, it seemed to be framed as you were saying it was a question of free speech and your rights, and he was saying it was a question of religion and morality. And I wonder … Do you think, in your view, his stance was to take his own view of religion and morality and have that supersede individual rights of others?

MOORE: I would say that if you are eliminating an opposing view from being aired, then you are trying to control the situation. You're trying to control what kind of information people will hear. And so that means that he … Yes, he wanted his perception of how the Catholic religion should be interpreted in this particular situation to be the one that was heard. I think it's a rigid interpretation of religion, and I don't think that's something any of us need, because I think there are good people in every religion, and there are people who foment and who are adamant about their religious views, and I don't think that serves … I think that brings about a lot of divisiveness.

And so his … The fact that he saw this so narrowly, in my opinion, was more of a disservice to Catholicism and to the other people around him, because he's basically saying, if you don't have my view of what Catholicism is, you can't be a Catholic. And I don't understand that, because as a … I'm a religious person myself, and I don't understand trying to tell other people how to be religious – in that way, I guess.

LAMBERT: If you could say something to Jason Kenney now, after all of this – after having this happen and having lived with the fallout for so long – is there anything you would say to him?

MOORE: I wonder if he'd talk to me and apologize to me – not because of his view, but because I wonder if he has any understanding about how people behaving that way, what kind of impact that has on individuals. I mean, I guess to crystallize it, that I'm a human being, and this affected me. And it was pretty horrible. It was horrible for me. And I would like him to know that, I guess – you know, that there are consequences to what you do. And I hope that he's not treating other people that way without thinking about it.

JEREMY: I put in a request with the UCP to interview Kenney on this program – not an emailed statement, not a soundbite in a media scrum, but a conversation, because I think this needs a conversation.

And here's what I want to ask: How, and why, have your views changed? And I mean specifically how and why. I'm genuinely curious, and it's an area I have some familiarity with, because I've gone through that transition myself. I grew up in a very evangelical, religious setting, and I can remember hearing about the "gay agenda," so I know it's possible to change your views. I've experienced that myself. But I know that when that happens, it involves a deep inner transformation. It's a profound realignment and a completely different way of looking at the world.

Anyways, I didn't get the Kenney interview. But, good news – I got somebody even better: Pam Rocker. She's an activist, she's a spoken-word poet, and I met with her in downtown Calgary. I met with her before all this GSA stuff blew up, and our conversation, as it turns out, was quite timely.

PAM ROCKER: So I'm the director of an initiative called Affirming Connections, and my mandate is basically to help support faith communities to be more affirming and inclusive, particularly for those who have been traditionally marginalized by religion, which the LGBTQ+ community is a huge part of – so, to help them understand why being affirming is faithful and that it's not something that they can't do theologically, and then also to resource LGBTQ+ individuals one-on-one, because a lot of them struggle with if they can reconcile their faith with their sexual or gender identity, and to sort of help them find that they can have access to whatever is meaningful for them in their lives.

JEREMY: So let's go way back, to your own spiritual roots and religious roots. How did you grow up? What was the environment in which you grew up?

ROCKER: I grew up mostly in Texas, in a suburb of Dallas, and my family was very loving and caring, but it was really difficult in some ways because we went to Baptist churches for the most part, and even though faith was a really key part of who I was outside of my parents, I also heard a lot of things about people like me, about … You know, they wouldn't really say "gay," but "homosexuals," or "those people doing those things."

And even as an eight, nine, 10-year-old, I remember hearing sermons about it, and even at one point hearing that being a homosexual was the unforgivable sin. And even though I didn't quite exactly know who I was, I knew that that was probably the only word that was the closest thing to what I felt, and I was really devastated, because I felt like, okay, I need to completely hide this for the rest of my life, because I felt like I wanted to be a Christian and that was really important to me, and I thought, okay, I guess this can't be a part of who I am. And so in my childhood that was really the source of a lot of depression and anxiety for me.

And then eventually, when I graduated high school, I decided that I would become a missionary, and so I was involved at a missions organization. I traveled around the world doing humanitarian stuff. And a lot of those things are … you know, I look back with a lot of good memories, but at the same time I see how problematic it was in terms of a lot of it was based on fear. A lot of it was based on control of other people, and a lot of it was based on that if you weren't "saved" that you would have an eternity in hell. And when you're leaving with sort of those stakes, it's really hard to feel like you have any ability to have any questions beyond that.

JEREMY: So when you were doing the missionary stuff at that point, were you still of the belief that, you know, homosexuality is a sin? Was that kind of … you believed that?

ROCKER: I did, because I didn't know anybody who really thought differently – who thought differently openly. And questions and doubt weren't encouraged. Sort of blind faith and just belief without any questions was, I would say, rewarded and considered faithful, so even though I had a little … you know, little questions in my mind thinking, you know, I don't think that the things people say about gay people are true because I don't feel those things; still, there was no one that I could even talk to. I just felt like I was completely alone, and so I thought, okay, either I can talk about it and risk losing my family, my community, my career, or I can keep it inside and still have some sort of sense of belonging.

JEREMY: And what changed for you?

ROCKER: Well, I eventually married a guy in missionary school and we were together for some time, and I moved to Canada. And I worked at the largest evangelical church in Canada for three years, until eventually there was at some point where I knew … It came to a point where I thought, okay, either I have to end my life or I have to figure out what to do. And so, you know, I really weighed those decisions for many years, and finally, after a lot of reading of all the pros and cons of what to believe and all of that, I just really, you know … I realized that there was no way that the God who created me as I was would be the same God who would punish me for who I was. And so I was able to start embracing this idea that, wait, maybe this is actually a gift. Maybe this isn't a curse.

And when I started to open up to that … It took quite a few years for me to sort of accept that piece of myself, but when I started to do that, I realized, wow. What a waste of time hiding those pieces of myself. And it became really important to me to try to help other people shorten their journey from really loathing that part of who they were and feeling like they had to choose between their faith and their sexuality or gender identity. It took me 27 years, and I wanted to hopefully help that journey shorten for other people.

JEREMY: I gotta ask, which missionary school was it?

ROCKER: It was called Youth With A Mission.

JEREMY: [laughs] I did Youth With A Mission, too. We're a couple of YWAM'ers here, so …

ROCKER: Oh, I know the term YWAM'er. I usually don't say that, because everybody's like, "What is that?" They used to also joke and say that it was Young Women after a Man because everybody got married when they were, like, 18.

Yes, so we have that in common. That's interesting.

JEREMY: Yeah, yeah, it's super interesting.

So what I want to explore with you, the process you're describing, obviously … So for somebody like you, you had a lot more at stake than somebody like me, but, like, my views evolved over time. I grew up evangelical, and over a period of time came to realize, like, this view that I hold is wrong. And a lot of people … When I look around at a lot of my formerly evangelical friends, a lot of people have gone through that transition – what you're talking about.

So how do people usually go about that? Like, what is the turning point that you've seen for people? Or what changes people?

ROCKER: It sounds simplistic, but life, right? So, often – and you may be able to relate with this – we're sort of taught a very binary view of faith, right? And to be honest, it's a very sort of secure feeling when you feel like you're on the inside. So when you feel like you know the answers and you can sort of say, "These things are right and these things are wrong," it feels really secure to be able to be inside that space.

And I think sometimes when things happen to us – so for me it was my sexuality and for you it may have been something different – some things happen and we say, okay, is it really that binary? Is there really this sense of who's in and who's out? Is there really this sense of, if I don't talk to this person about what I believe, if they don't believe the same thing as I do, that they're going to burn for eternity, right? And even now it seems really wild to me that I thought that, but it was a very real feeling that I had, and so I think often when people are challenged with what they go through or what a loved one goes through – maybe it's a divorce. Maybe it's the loss of something. Maybe it's a change in geography and you meet new people who think in a different way, and you think, oh, wow, there's something different out there.

And I think part of it, too, is if you accept the invitations to doubt and not be scared of that … I used to be scared of other religions, be scared of atheists, be scared of all of these things, and now it's something that I embrace as, even if I don't believe the same thing, I understand that so many things have meaning for other people. And what I care about at the end of the day is whether people are alienated and oppressed and all of those, whatever their religion is, and so I think it's also being aware of the invitations we get all the time to grow and to learn. And sometimes, unfortunately, that comes out of crisis, but I also think we all have the ability to shift, and it doesn't have to come from a life-altering circumstance.

But I do find that people who do have a deep faith can often be the best activists, because we were raised, in some ways, to really have a deep compassion for other people, and I think when we can harness that to be something that's not motivated out of fear, but that's motivated out of service and love, we can actually do amazing things. And so I'm really passionate about saying faith doesn't have to be a toxic thing. It doesn't have to be a binary thing. It doesn't have to be "I only help people who agree with me." It can be something that is really infused with compassion and empathy and with this strong sense of justice – not justice in terms of punishment, but justice in terms of protecting the people who are most vulnerable.

JEREMY: Totally, yeah. I totally relate to that, and I sometimes feel a little, almost, guilty, because I look back at my YWAM – Youth With A Mission – days, and I say, you know what? I miss certain elements of that. Like, we weren't attached to money. We freely shared stuff. It was very communal, and I look at my life now and I think, you know, am I still living that? So, yeah, there's elements of that that still, for sure, ring true.

ROCKER: Yeah, I can imagine. I mean, here's the thing. Here's the hard thing, right? A lot of us have that sense of belonging, being in those faith communities, and so there's a lot at stake. And whether … You know, I don't know what for you was the transformative moment. For me, it happened over a long period of time.

But yeah, there can be, you know … A lot of people say that church can be God's gathering agent, right? It's a place where you can find community. What can you do when you first go move into a new city? You can go to church, right? So it should be something that brings us life and that brings us closer to who we want to be and not farther away, and there are elements of that that I miss too, you know? I don't miss the … [laughs] some of the theological stuff, but I hear you. It's those things that, you know … Those are good things about it that I think can be something that we continue to foster in our lives now.

JEREMY: Totally. And I should say, for me, my conversion moment, as it were, was a friend in college when I was going to journalism school here – having a gay friend who was also raised in the church, and seeing his anguish as he tried to reconcile these things. And what I remember – and what I regret – is that I could not support him, because I … On the other side, I had people who would ostracize me if I was to say … If I was to affirm my friend, that would be watering down my faith. That would be … yeah. It would be … I don't know. I felt like I'd be expelled somehow. Which seems weird to say, because obviously I was in the privileged position in that whole dynamic, but it's not uncommon, right?

ROCKER: It's not uncommon at all. I had friends who I knew were struggling with their sexuality, and I was in the same spot, because I wasn't even at a point in my journey where I felt like … It was so repressed, so I hear you. And it is really difficult when you're in those situations to feel like … The stakes are high. And I know I keep saying that, but it's really important to me, because a lot of people don't really understand what those environments are like.

And so I hear you, and I have compassion for where you were at too, because there are many … I remember when I was 19 or 20 and one of my friends who was around my age, her husband left her on Christmas Eve. And I remember talking to her and saying that it would be a sin if she got divorced. And I think about that a lot – this idea that, instead of thinking about where my friend was at, I was thinking about this legalistic idea that I'd been taught. And I think about that too, [even life 00:28:17], because none of us are immune to still judging people in those ways, so it is really difficult, no matter where you're at, to sort of break out of that, because it takes a tremendous amount of courage.

JEREMY: Totally. So I'll ask you point-blank. We're in a provincial election. One of the people who want to be premier, UCP leader Jason Kenney, was previously involved with anti-gay activism in San Francisco – and subsequently, arguably – and now he says, you know, "I regret some of what I said in those days. My views have evolved." What do you see when you look at Jason Kenney?

ROCKER: I mean, as a person, I think I see somebody who's really afraid of themselves. I see somebody who … I don't know, has really bought on to some of the ideas that we've been talking about – these binary ideas of what's right and wrong, a sort of feeling like you have to fight for what you believe without any consideration of how it affects other people. So I see some of those threads, and I think it's really sad, but moreover, it's really scary, because I know it's possible when people are in those places. And not only what's possible, but see what's historical of what he's done, and so we can only imagine what he's capable of doing if he has more power and control.

And I think, sadly, as we've said, the people who lose are the people who don't have a voice. You and I have a microphone right now, and so we have a large level of privilege, even if we have our own struggles that are valid. But I think about young kids who need GSAs. I think about people who need access to healthcare, and just so many folks who aren't going to have as much agency or voice, and those are the people that he's purposely targeted over time.

And so I see an obsession with power, I see an obsession with feeling insecure and trying to make up for that in a lot of ways as a person, and I see a lot of emboldening of the kind of behaviors that are really extreme. And anything taken to an extreme is supremely dangerous, so I feel really concerned about what that might mean, and I feel concerned – you know, and a lot of people say this – the borders are porous, and so some of us might say that the extreme things that we see in the States can't happen here, but I think, perhaps, we don't have a deep understanding of what does happen here, and that anything can happen.

JEREMY: And what would … I'm trying to think how to phrase this. What would genuine transformation look like to you, for somebody like Jason Kenney? When I think of my evangelical friends who have walked a similar journey that we're talking about, they can usually point to quite a profound inner transformation – you know, "My conception of God totally changed," or, "I developed this friendship and it totally changed the way I viewed the world."

So what does that transformation – or that contrition, perhaps – yeah, what would that look like? Or what would you want to see? What is that?

ROCKER: The first thing I think of is, there's a priest named Father Gregory Boyle who works in California, and he works with a lot of former convicts, rehabilitating them, giving them jobs, and he writes a lot of really amazing stuff about compassion, but one of the things that he says is, we act like the God that we believe in. And so if the God that we believe in is judgmental and harsh and punishing and merciless, then that's what we're going to act like. And if the God that we believe in has a generous, expansive love, and forgiving, and open, then that's what we're going to believe in and that's what we're going to do.

And so I think transformation for somebody like Jason Kenney and others who find themselves in very extreme positions where they're harming people, I think – especially because he says that he's a person of faith, and that the church and Christian principles are important to him, from what I know – I would say, what kind of God does he want to believe in? Does he believe in a God who would punish people for who they are? Does he believe in a God who would take away rights from the most vulnerable? That's not the God who I believe in.

And if, like me, he looks at the life of Jesus … You know, I see somebody who always did things that were countercultural, always did things that were unpopular politically, always did things that … You know, he said, "If somebody wants my shirt, I'll give them all of my clothes. If somebody wants to slap me on one cheek, I'll give them the other, too." And this idea of this expansive love that is not popular – that is actually really, really hard.

So I would say, without knowing what his heart looks like, I can say for me, when I was stuck in a similar position, it was really easy for me to sort of contort and pervert the kind of faith I was taught. But that was easy. That kind of faith is easy.

The kind of faith that I try to practice now is, what does love look like right now, and right now, and tomorrow, and the next day, with each person that I talk to? And I think that's way harder than drawing lines of who's in and who's out.

So to me, parties don't really matter. What I matter is who somebody is, who they stand for, and if I feel like that person believes in the dignity of every single human being. We all falter, but I have a hard time when people have a lot of power, when they purposefully go after people who don't have any, because that was the opposite of the life of Jesus.

It's possible for any of us to do things that are very harmful. Any of us. And maybe we have, and maybe we are right now. But it also means it's possible for any of us to be transformed. If I didn't believe that, then I would no longer practice a faith. Why would I be a part of a church that literally, for my whole life, has said, "You can't be a part of us"? Why would I want to do that?

And for me, the answer is: because nobody can tell me what I have access to. Nobody can say that I don't have access to it, because I believe that God says, "I'm here for everybody." And so if I didn't believe that God was here for all of us, then I might still be stuck in that same narrow-minded thinking where I could even – as I think Jason Kenney has done multiple times – say, I need to harm people because God says I need to. I need to harm people because the Bible tells me to.

And I think a transformation can happen when we take the invitation to say there are so many verses in scriptures and parables that we can interpret to say women can't vote, slavery was okay … And we need to look at it with now a lens where a fifth-grade understanding of the Bible is dangerous even for a fifth-grader, and say, so many things in sacred texts can alienate people, and so many things in sacred texts can liberate people, and what kind of people of faith are we going to be? People who liberate others, or people who continue to alienate and oppress?

And we have the invitation to be ones who can liberate, and so I believe in transformation, but I also believe in doing what we can to stop people from harming others.

JEREMY: We've covered a lot here. Is there anything that you want to add that I haven't asked?

ROCKER: Wow. I think it's really important to … This conversation is hard, because I know how deeply … not just Jason Kenney, but people who support his ideas, right? There's a lot. We can … There's one person sort of who's a figurehead, but there's a lot of people underneath, and I work with a lot of those people every day. And so it is a very emotional thing to think that I'm looking across the table from people who maybe if they had their choice, they wouldn't want me to marry my partner. Maybe if they had their choice, they still would say I wouldn't be able to visit her in the hospital.

So it is hard to have empathy and compassion, but what I would say is this: The best activists and the best people of faith have anger in one hand and gratitude in the other – gratitude at how far we've come, gratitude at all of the people who do support us, everybody who's made a way for me to even … for it to be legal for me to exist. And then the other hand we have anger, because anger means something's wrong. Anger means there's still things to be changed. And so by no means do I think that we should just sit back and try to forgive everyone. That's not what Jesus did.

And so I say, gratitude in one hand, thankful for where we're at, and anger saying, I want in 10 years to be able to say to people who are 18, eight, whatever age they are, that they have more capacity, more ability to thrive, more opportunity now, and that means that we have to really watch and be active, I think, voting as spiritual practice, and take those things seriously, because people's lives are deeply affected.

JEREMY: Well thanks very much for your time, Pam.

ROCKER: Thanks so much.


JEREMY: You've been listening to Sprawlcast. You can find our earlier stories on Jason Kenney on our website,, along with the rest of our election coverage, and there's a lot more to come, so make sure you keep checking back.

I want to give extra-special thanks to Taylor Lambert for all his work on the San Francisco story. He went down, he did just an amazing job of researching and also writing it up fairly. I think that matters a lot. And so thanks to Taylor for that. And hey, Taylor has a podcast, so make sure you check that out. It's called The Calgarian, and he does in-depth interviews with interesting Calgarians, so you can find it on iTunes, Spotify … all the usual places.

Our theme music is by Dan D'Agostino and Kenny Murdoch, and our CTrain narrator is Holly McConnell. You can find us online on social media, @sprawlcalgary, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks for listening, and see you soon.

Jeremy Klaszus is editor-in-chief of The Sprawl.

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