Don was born in Corner Brook, N.L. to a father who was a small business owner and a mother who worked at home. With his father publicly confronting racism in the 1940s and his mother active in a provincial women’s organization, Don’s family taught him strong values about equality and respect for all and supported him actively when he came out as gay. Don credits this family tradition for his early interest in radical sociology, labour activism and feminism.
Don, as an openly gay male childcare worker, is a minority within a minority. Fewer than five per cent of childcare employees in Canada are men, and few of those men are openly gay. In the face of homophobia and social unease, not many men of any orientation choose childcare work.
Soft spoken with his toddler charges, Don is far from silent politically. He has been out publicly as a gay man since 1971, and since moving to Vancouver in 1973, he has conducted an active and ongoing political practice campaigning for gay and lesbian rights (originally with the pioneering Gay Alliance Toward Equality in the 1970s) and as an active member and sometime officer within his union.
Prompted by Don Hann, a Vancouver day-care worker active in gay liberation during the 1970's, the B.C. Social Services Employees Union has included non-discrimination clauses in all its contracts, agreeing with Don that "one's sexual orientation is irrelevant in child-care work or in any other occupation."
Don has been a pioneer. Now, more men are getting it about the need to nurture children, but he was an early champion. Although he loves all the kids, he has a special delight in little girls who are firebrands!
Now tht he is retired, and looking back at his career, Hann is contented. “I am happy with the life I’ve had,” he said. “I have had a rewarding life as what I call a ‘gay male mother’ to the kids, and I have served as a public face for gay childcare workers. I have been so fortunate.”