Colin Mochrie & Kinley
Recently, when North Toronto’s acclaimed comic Colin Mochrie took to social media to comment on his transgender daughter, Kinley, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and the Leasider has become something of a spokesperson
Colin Mochrie is a comedic icon in this country and especially in Toronto, where he resides in Leaside with his equally hilarious partner, Debra McGrath. Mochrie was in the news last month to talk about his son Luke who recently announced he was transgender and would become Kinley. Post City spoke with Mochrie about his daughter.
What inspired you to go on Twitter and talk about your experience with your daughter?
I wish it was well thought out. It was just a day with a lot of negative stuff in social media: the American inauguration was about to happen, and there was lots of negativity. I thought I’d put out a nice little thing about two women in their late 80s who accept someone who is different from any sort of life experience they had. So it was just put out there as a little positive, “Hey there is still good in the world.” And I didn’t really think it through. Kinley had been out for a while. All her friends knew, and she had posted it on Facebook. And after, I thought, “Oh wait a minute, a lot of people who follow me aren’t really in my circle.”
What surprised you most regarding the reaction you received?
Just the fact that it was such a big reaction and it was overwhelmingly positive. I tend to not be an optimistic person. I don’t oftentimes believe in the positivity of humanity, so it was heartwarming for me that it was overwhelmingly positive. There were a few negative and even fewer just blatant hate tweets, but overall I was very happy, and I loved that the people were also taking on the naysayers.
People can be cruel on social media. How did that impact you?
A lot of it was more out of ignorance than blind hate or trolling. Some I thought, “This person seems like someone that just doesn’t know.” And I would try to present the facts. And [with] others that there was no reason, [had] made up their mind, and it’s so darkly negative that I just didn’t want to get drawn into it.
And tell me how it went when your then-son told you he was transgender.
I was actually out of town. I was doing
Whose Line [Is It Anyway?], and we were, Deb and I, were thinking of doing a show loosely based on our lives. We were talking to Kinley — Luke at that time — and asked, if he’d mind if we use elements of our life, and he said, “You know what, I have to talk to you about something.” So I got the call when I was in Los Angeles, and I didn’t really get a chance to talk to Kinley. I just sent her a quick text message that we support her. It was so surreal in a way, until I got back home and saw her, and it was like, “Oh yeah, you are absolutely the same person we raised and we love.”
What else could you say, really?
I felt like, OK, I mean really, what’s the alternative? “No, you’re not?” So, no. Kinley isn’t someone to jump into something. She really takes her time. This has been a long time coming. She wanted to make sure this was right for her.
Were you concerned that this might shine the light more on Kinley and make it more uncomfortable?
We’ve gotten a lot of requests for things, and I always go to her and say, “This is going to be different for you because it’s something you’re not used to. Feel free to say no to anything.” But at this point she wants to. She wants to get the message out there and get some of the focus on transgender rights.
And do you think it was easier because Toronto is such an accepting city?
Oh absolutely. It would be different in a small town. I know Kinley has a large transgender support group, and it is a lot easier than it would be anywhere else.
What advice do you have for other parents in a similar situation?
Educate yourself. One of the great things about Kinley was that she sent us five videos about the various politics of transgender and people’s personal stories, and she keeps us informed because this is something we are still learning about and feeling our way through. It’s important to remember this is still the kid you raised. They are just wearing a different coat.
Do you hope to continue to be an advocate for LGBT rights in the city and in the country?
Yes, although I don’t know if advocate is the right word, but certainly an ally and there to speak. I don’t really know if your community wants an old white man to talk for you. It’s not like something I can relate to or a struggle I went through in my life, but I will certainly be an ally and be there to help wherever I can and talk if I have to. There are plenty of transgender people who have stepped up and will certainly fight for their rights.