Four Countries, Eight Cities, Seventy Years
What’s the short answer to About Me? How’s this? I’m a baby-boomer W.A.S.P. gay/queer Canadian/British cisgendered able-bodied man who’s lived through decades of massive change, now into my 70s.
What am I doing here? I’m writing this website as a kind of memoir of my life using digitized archives of mine such as photographs, videos, letters and other paraphernalia and ephemera. You can read more about what my goals are in creating this website in my first post – What am I Doing Here?
But in this About Me section, I want to give you a bare bones chronology of my life to give you an overview of what I hope to write about in this website over however long it takes me to complete it.
1950 – Toronto born, I grew up in its suburb – Don Mills (Canada’s “first planned community”) where I lived in innocent bliss – my naive period – enjoying school and skipping with the girls.
1968-1971 – Leaving home, I headed off to Queen’s University in Kingston for my BA. Around this time, I started coming out to myself and to others as a gay man.
1971-1973 – I took a gap year (before that term had been invented) after university to explore my sexuality and myself. I travelled across Canada, down the West Coast and through the Pacific Ocean ending up in Sydney, Australia where I plunged myself into the Gay Liberation Movement, flourishing there at the time. After 1½ years living in Australia and with travelling still in my system, I put the backpack back on and wandered through Southeast Asia – at least the bits of it that weren’t involved in the war in Vietnam at that time, although I got close to it in Laos. From Singapore, I flew to London.
Late 1973-1977 – Wanting to get a qualification that would help me find a job and loving teaching, I moved to London where I took a one-year PGCE (a teaching diploma) at the University of London. I got a job as a lecturer at a London college teaching Sociology to A Level students and Liberal Studies, as it was called, to gas fitters and car mechanics. At this time, I began to get more involved in gay activism, especially in Gay Left and the Gay Teachers Group. At the time, I imagined I would stay in London for a few years but ended up not returning to live in Canada until 1990 – 17 years in the future.
1977-1978 – Leaving teaching for a year, I pursued a Masters in Sociology at the University of Essex in Colchester about two hours northeast of London. My supervisor, Ken Plummer, helped me to get my “Male Dominance and the Gay World” thesis published as a chapter in his book “The Making of the Modern Homosexual”.
1978-1981 – Having received my MA, I needed a job and returned to teaching, this time in a Secondary School in Germany teaching Sociology and Modern Studies to the children of British soldiers stationed in Northwest Germany at Rheindahlen, a product of the division of Germany after WW2. My apartment was in Mönchengladbach, near Düsseldorf. No gay activism here, but lots of cruising.
1981-1990 – My Thirties. After my three years in Germany was over, I couldn’t decide whether to return to Canada or London, but quickly getting a job teaching Communication Skills and Sociology back in a London college kept me in that city for another 9 years. Again, I became involved in various gay groups, including London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard and becoming the first paid Youth Worker for the London Gay Teenage Group.
1990-1991 – Turning 40 prompted me to return to Toronto for what I thought would be another gap year after which I’d return to my home, job and life in London. I was lucky to get a position in a career centre there, helping teachers help students to find work. But on a weekend trip to Montreal in mid-winter, I met Jean-Pierre (in a sauna, if you must know) and, 6 months later, I moved to that city to live with him and for a new life, leaving London and Toronto behind.
1991-present – Jean-Pierre and I separated after 5 years, but I stayed in Montreal, as I was smitten with living there. I found work as a Sociology teacher in a CEGEP (college) and then at McGill University as a career counsellor and Director of Career Services. I retired from the latter in 2012. A year or so after meeting David (at a YMCA aerobics class in Montreal, again, if you must know) in 1999, we moved in with each other. Falling deeper in love with each year, we got married in 2010, 5 years after same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada. After 20 good years together, we’re now into our early 70s. So I better get moving this website!
I would welcome feedback and comments from whatever big or little audience this website produces.