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I beat my addiction with the support of my LGBTQIA+ media family
Journalist Like Me

I beat my addiction with the support of my LGBTQIA+ media family

 SHE/HER Lesbian, woman, working class  Sophie Perry LGBTQ+ Journalism Network founder
HE/HIM Bisexual, working-class Steve Topple News, politics and music journalist

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 Iโ€™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 Canaryโ€™s ethos cements all this. We have mental, physical and emotional well-being check-ins at the start of every meeting.

Thereโ€™s a permanent โ€˜how are you really doingโ€™ 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.

โžก๏ธ Get paid to write for this series
  Sophie Perry is a journalist, writer and founder of the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network. She is passionate about LGBTQ+ stories, social justice and arts and culture.   SHE/HER Lesbian, woman, working class  Sophie Perry LGBTQ+ Journalism Network Founder
| First commissioned Jun 2022 as part of our mission to fund queer media careers

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