A Lesser Known Edmonton
By Todd Smith
My second year of post-secondary brought me to Edmonton in 2006, which then felt overwhelming to me, having grown up in a small town. I knew no one and had no family here. It was a rocky start aided by the mystique of a new city and the possibility to explore and become comfortable with myself.
The first anniversary of my living in Edmonton marked the halfway point of my undergraduate university career and came with a small group of great friends. I had discovered the people in this city to be very welcoming and warm-hearted, something I had only expected from the university. However, the greatest surprise was the great sense of community spirit and pride within the gay community, which really helped me become more comfortable with myself. Within the next year I had come out to my family, which was only possible with the great friends I had met and grown to love, both within the gay and greater Edmonton communities.
I am now an open and proud gay man thanks to the welcoming atmosphere of this city. I have been able to discover and pursue my true interests in human rights through the many opportunities to get involved in the various communities of Edmonton. The huge non-profit sector within Edmonton provides endless volunteer opportunities in almost any area. Finding relevant and valuable internship opportunities has been easy with all the government offices, both provincial and federal, in the city.
The welcoming and accepting atmosphere of this vibrant community has created a space in which I feel comfortable as a gay man. It could be argued that Edmonton, like any other city, is homophobic, but ignorance and intolerance is found everywhere one goes. That said, kind people are definitely the majority here.
The world-class educational institutions had originally drawn me out of my small town to this city. I am now near completion of my degree and look forward to taking advantage of the many career opportunities still available to me in these difficult economic times. Aside from work, what keeps me in Edmonton are the great people, the festivities year round, and the great abundance of locally owned restaurants and shops. The culture is great!