As I reflect on another journey around the sun, I find myself grappling with a myriad of emotions that have coloured the past twelve months. This year has been, in a word, exhausting. It began with the weight of tough decisions, ones that carried the gravity of determining the longevity of my business. The landscape of technology shifted beneath my feet, demanding adaptation and a nimble approach to stay afloat.
As the seasons changed and summer approached, a wave of human hatred seemed to barrel into my life with an intensity that I hadn't anticipated. Navigating through this tumultuous sea of negativity became an emotional battle, one that left me feeling as though I needed a form of medication just to cope with the complexities of human interaction.
Fall brought a welcome levelling off, a respite from the storm that had raged within and around me. However, it wasn't without its own set of challenges. In moments of quiet reflection, I found myself questioning my own value in the grand scheme of the world. It's a peculiar place to be, standing on the precipice of self-doubt, wondering if the efforts exerted are making a meaningful impact.
And now, here I sit, a mere week before Christmas, contemplating the year that is almost at its end. The approaching conclusion of this chapter brings with it a sense of renewal—a chance to shed the burdens of the past and step into the potential of a fresh start. As the calendar turns to 2024, I can't help but hope for a year that is markedly better, one filled with growth, positivity, and the promise of new opportunities.
In the face of adversity, I've learned to weather storms and adapt. Each challenge, no matter how daunting, has been a crucible for personal growth. As I prepare to bid farewell to this rollercoaster of a year, I carry with me the resilience gained through adversity and the hope that the coming year will be a canvas upon which I can paint a brighter, more fulfilling picture of my journey around the sun.
Many Years Ago
When I finally gathered the strength to reveal to the world that I am gay, the first person I chose to confide in was my wife. Even before we got married, I had shared my doubts about my sexuality with her, and I still remember the tears streaming down her face. Overwhelmed with guilt, I tried to ease her pain by retracting my words, but deep down, my true feelings remained.
As the years passed, I found myself trapped in a double life, not because I sought another relationship to test my sexuality, but because my inner self was evolving. Living against the grain of societal expectations took a toll, a toll that people like us—those who defy the norm—know all too well. The statistics speak volumes about the struggles, with many facing self-harm and, tragically, contemplating suicide as a way out.
After coming out, and even now, I realize that my community is missing a crucial element: role models. I'm not talking about the stereotypical images associated with being gay; I'm talking about everyday people who share similar struggles and yet lead fulfilling lives. Those who aren't out there on social media, trying to build a brand, but simply living authentically.
For me, The Crochet Crowd has never been just about being a gay man navigating life. It's been my therapy, a refuge where I've found solace. Many of you might be on a similar journey, battling inner demons that are often more challenging than external judgments.
This year, I received one of the toughest comments from a woman in the USA. She held Daniel and I responsible for her son coming out of the closet, suggesting that our portrayal of a life with a home, dogs, and simply existing on this planet influenced him. While I didn't take her criticism harshly, I couldn't help but feel for her son, a teenager facing a challenging journey. Regardless of his mother's support, I want him to know there's a place for him in this world.
Our stories, your stories, they matter. They break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and let others know they're not alone. It's through our authenticity that we create a space for acceptance and understanding, paving the way for a more inclusive and compassionate world.
Delerium FT Sarah McLaughlan was one of my songs I would blare in the car as I drove to work when I came out of the closet. The words resonated with me. I would break into tears trying to find my place.
Give me release
I am outside
Give me peace
Heaven holds a sense of wonder
And I wanted to believe that I’d get caught up
When the rage in me subsides
Chokes the flower
Until she cries no more
Possessing all the beauty
Hungry still for more
In this white wave
I am sinking
In this silence
In this white wave…
In this silence…
In my book, The Crochet Crowd - Create, Inspire and Celebrate, I really wanted to discuss in much further detail my coming out story which led to The Crochet Crowd.
The book was put to market for a promised page count before the book was finished and pages were axed from my story to keep the price point of the book and promised expectations.
Most of you know, or sense, you don't see pictures of me with my family. My family today is Daniel, PuppiDawg, Salti, Binky Boo and Puss Puss. Just the six of us. The idea that blood is thicker than water is complete nonsense to me but it took counselling for me to overcome that.
The Real Story from My Perspective
In my early 20s, I dove headfirst into a business venture that ended up consuming not just my time and energy but also had a significant impact on my family. At the time, I fell into the trap of thinking that bigger is always better and made decisions prematurely. Looking back, I realize the toll it took on my family, especially considering my parents' struggling relationship that lingered since my early teenage years.
To escape the complexities at home, I turned to working at a department store after school. It became a sanctuary of sorts, funding my college years and even a shiny new car. The hard work paid off, making me self-sustainable and offering a sense of independence.
College, with its array of unrelated courses, threw me into a sexual education class. In a quiet moment, another guy's question about gay relationships and practices caught me off guard. Until then, I hadn't truly considered that a gay couple could be a reality. It was a moment of awakening, a realization that my own feelings might be genuine, and that my life could take a different turn.
The motto of paying fair rent after college, a sensible one, signaled the end of free groceries and more. I embraced budgeting, realizing I could move out and support myself without being tethered to my childhood home. So, at 18, I took that leap into adulthood.
The first phone call home, just a week after moving out, was met with an unexpected response from my dad. He preferred I didn't call, citing a dislike for phone conversations. It was a valid preference, but it marked the closing of an open invitation to connect. Little did I know that this would coincide with my own realization about my identity.
Walking into my childhood home later, I felt like a guest rather than a resident. It made sense, but it was a poignant reminder of the changes in our relationship dynamics. Even during Christmas, a once cherished family time, the atmosphere had shifted. The concept of coming home was no longer a requirement, and the joy of gift-giving had become a thing of the past.
In my 20s, the challenges intensified as I got entangled in a business involving my parents. Witnessing the day my dad declared the end of his relationship with my mother, right in the store I owned, was a moment etched in memory. The fallout was painful, and the repercussions, both emotional and professional, were profound.
Simultaneously, I chose to come out, thinking that being bisexual would somehow make the process easier. I was wrong. The assumptions I made about how each parent would react caught me off guard. It wasn't the truth I thought it would be, and the errors I made in judgment became evident.
This journey has been a maze of challenges, from family struggles to self-discovery. But through it all, I've found strength in self-sustainability and resilience. My story is still unfolding, and I continue to navigate the complexities of family, identity, and personal growth with courage and authenticity.
A motto theme song I have is Southern Sun when I need to lift up my head and find my strength.
In my early years, my family went through a challenging time. My mother found herself in a struggle that spanned years, living in an industrial garage on a cot. Meanwhile, my father moved on quickly, starting a new relationship, and the stark contrast in their paths left me feeling disconnected as I watched from a distance. The idea of both parents thriving simultaneously seemed like an unattainable reality.
The clash between my mom's religious beliefs and my process of coming out added another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation. My dad's mocking attitude towards people like me made it difficult for me to reconcile my identity. Fitting in wasn't just about my parents; it was about coming to terms with who I was.
At some point, a counselor suggested that I take a break from the family, and I took that advice. It was easier to avoid confronting the demons when not faced with them directly. Phone communications dwindled, and my siblings became part of my past as I moved on.
Distance, however, has its drawbacks. It created a social awkwardness where people who were once integral to my life became strangers. Everything was rooted in the past, making it easier to let go of what was.
I never knew what to say to my parents. One of my siblings made it clear they didn't want to hear about my relationships, especially those of the gay variety. Yet, they didn't hesitate to ask for financial help when they needed it. In a somewhat intoxicated state, I vented my frustrations in an email that was never meant to be sent, but a dinner invitation from Daniel led to an accidental click of the "send" button. It became a breaking point for me. It didn't feel right that I couldn't discuss my life, but my money was fair game.
Another sibling's marriage invitation arrived, and both my parents were invited. The discomfort of being in the same space as both of them, given their breakup and my own internal struggles, led me to delay responding until it was too late. It was a decision on my part, and it marked the permanent end of that relationship.
Forgiveness is a term often thrown around, but for me, it became a motion of letting go and moving forward. I have nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews I'll never meet or know, and surprisingly, I'm okay with that. Moving forward seems like the better choice.
With Christmas around the corner, the annual call from my parents looms. I never know what to say, and the conversation is brief. There's no hatred, but it feels like I'm talking to strangers.
I understand that I am just as responsible, if not more so, for the loss of my family. Communication is a two-way street, and I can't blame anyone entirely.
My parents did their best to raise me, instilling self-sufficiency and independence. I left home at 18, and now, at the age of 50, I'm still walking on my own two feet. It's a journey that speaks volumes about my resilience and ability to stand on my own.
The Sit Down
Having that conversation with the professional was a sobering moment. It brought to light the societal pressure and the looming decision she's facing about having children. It's a weighty choice, one that can significantly shape the course of her life.
In sharing my perspective, I emphasized the advantages of not having kids, highlighting the potential challenges with dealing with other parents, navigating school issues, participating in kids' groups, and, of course, the substantial financial commitment. The sheer cost of raising a child in today's world is staggering, not to mention the additional expenses for education.
The financial aspect is something many overlook. I made sure to mention that raising a child in Canada can cost around $325,000 up to the age of 18, and that's excluding education expenses. It's a considerable investment that goes beyond just finances—it involves time, emotional energy, and a lifetime commitment.
I offered her the perspective that, if she doesn't feel the innate desire to have children and is content without them, succumbing to societal pressure may not be the right path. I reminded her that societal expectations shouldn't dictate such a profound life choice. It's crucial to be honest with oneself about personal desires and priorities.
Additionally, I pointed out the uncertainties that come with parenting. There's no guarantee that a child won't bring disappointment or that they'll take care of you in your old age. Waiting until your 60s or 70s for a child to become independent and stand on their own two feet is a reality that demands careful consideration.
In essence, I shared my thoughts to emphasize the importance of making this decision for oneself, free from external pressures. It's about choosing a path that aligns with one's values, desires, and the lifestyle they envision. Parenthood is a deeply personal journey, and it should only be embarked upon if it genuinely resonates with one's heart and aspirations.
Coming Back to The Negative Comment
The weight of the woman's comment reverberates with a sombre reality that extends far beyond her immediate concerns. The prospect of her child considering such a drastic step, contemplating the crushing pressure between familial expectations and personal needs, casts a shadow over the potential outcomes.
If this young man succumbs to the pressure, it's not just a game over for her—it's a life forever altered, a family dynamics shattered. The impact of a child choosing a desperate path to escape expectations is a tragedy that resonates through generations. The notion that he might face a life-altering decision, one with such permanent consequences, is a stark and heartbreaking reality.
In the face of this, my concern extends beyond what she, as a parent, may need. The focus shifts to the young man, who stands on the precipice of his life. Navigating the complexities of life in Canada and the USA, particularly as someone perceived as "less-than" by societal standards, is an uphill battle that she may not fully comprehend.
Regardless of his attempts to conform to her expectations, he, too, has needs that demand acknowledgment and nurturing. Living in a world that often pushes those who don't fit neatly into predefined moulds under the bus, only to later accuse them of being lost, is a stark and painful paradox. It's an environment that can be relentlessly unforgiving, especially for those who grapple with societal perceptions and expectations.
In this poignant reality, the plea is for a deeper understanding—a recognition that individual needs and struggles are valid, irrespective of societal norms. It's a call for empathy, compassion, and an acknowledgment that the pressure to conform can be suffocating, particularly for those already marginalized.
As we contemplate the gravity of this situation, it becomes clear that the stakes go far beyond familial desires. The potential separation, whether permanent or not, is a reflection of a broader societal challenge—one that demands a collective effort to foster understanding, acceptance, and support for those who feel the weight of not fitting into predetermined moulds.
This year has thrown its fair share of challenges at me, and I find myself in a place where emotions are a bit of a rollercoaster. I know it could be worse, but I also acknowledge that I could be in a better emotional space. Right now, it's about putting one foot in front of the other — that's the best I can offer, and I'm coming to terms with that.
It's been tough, and I'm allowing myself to feel that without judgment. Some days, it feels like a struggle just to keep moving forward. But I recognize that taking each step is a small victory in itself. There's a certain strength in accepting where I am, emotionally and mentally.
Coming to terms with my current reality is a process. It's about understanding that this journey is mine, and it's okay not to have everything figured out. Some days, just the act of acknowledging the challenges and facing them head-on feels like an accomplishment.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's the importance of self-compassion. Being kind to myself in these tough moments and allowing the space to heal and grow. Life has a way of throwing curveballs, but I'm doing my best to navigate through them, one step at a time. If I need support, I'll reach out, understanding that seeking help is a strength, not a weakness. Here's to putting one foot in front of the other and embracing the journey, wherever it may lead.