Addiction is a complex issue: individualised, with no easy solution. But having a workplace where the leadership are part of the LGBTQIA+ community allowed me to finally beat my demons.
After living as a gay man for nearly 15 years, I finally came out as bisexual in 2015. I think I’d always known I was Bi.
But the phobia I saw in the gay community in the 2000s stopped me from being who I was.
It made me forever question if I was actually bisexual. I felt alone, abandoned and deeply confused.
I've also been an alcoholic for over 15 years. This is in no small part due to my battles with my sexual identity.
Addicts talk about 'rock bottoms' - that moment when you're so low it finally shakes you into action.
I did try to manage my demons - but they haunted me at every turn; I could never stay 'dry' for more than a few months and constantly hit rock bottoms.
But my last relapse in May-June 2016 was different. I joined The Canary just before. It followed years of being reliant on sickness benefits. I think the sudden change was too much, and I fell 'off the wagon' once again.
But this time, instead of people abandoning me, The Canary leadership team fully backed me.
They gave me the time off I needed; let me write about my experience and were always there to listen. Moreover, they completely understood the intersection of sexual identity and addiction in a way no one else ever has.
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The Canary’s ethos cements all this. We have mental, physical and emotional well-being check-ins at the start of every meeting.
There’s a permanent ‘how are you really doing’ thread in our virtual newsroom. And everyone at The Canary lives by the values of accountability and honesty.
I've been sober for over 2,170 days. Having a job which has given me my first true purpose in life is part of it. And so is being surrounded by LGBTQIA+ people in a radical media organisation who accept 'Steve Topple' for who he is.
This was the first time in my life I was truly 'me'.
Now, I have a career which really means something; a wonderful partner and an amazing stepson, and sobriety.
I truly believe this is in no small part due to being in an LGBTQIA+ media family.
As part of our commitment to the sector, QueerAF has partnered with the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network to run a content series and help develop a thriving network of queer media professionals. 'Journalist Like Me' is our new, joint content series.
➡️ Get paid to write for this series
The media bombardment against LGBTQIA+ people must end
We need to support marginalised trans, non-binary and queer creatives to work in the media - to change it. Only then will we be able to win the fight and change the narrative.
QueerAF is going to revolutionise the way in which LGBTQIA+ voices are heard and flourish. Our community-led platform's editorial decisions are in the hands of readers, not advertisers.
Our platform lets creators, journalists and producers get paid and be commissioned directly by the QueerAF community. This, while we mentor them to build a career, work in the industry - and then, change it.
Our approach lets us focus on stories that count, not just drive hate clicks.
Right now our 'Early Adopters' membership (40% discount) is the perfect way to support us (from as little as £4.20 a month) - but there is only a limited number left.
You'll get early access to our content, and can tell us what kinds of creatives your funds should go towards. Join us to change the media for good.