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I was born on July 31, 1970 in the small town of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island in British Columbia to two wonderful parents, Peter and Betty. After attending my basic elementary education at Alberni Elementary, I moved on to Mt. Klitsa Junior Secondary School. It was during my Junior Highschool education that I met one of the teachers that would influence my life in a profound way. Mr. Bill Mosdell taught Grade 9 Social Studies. His classes was an exercise in motivating his students to perform to the absolute best of their abilities. His marking schemes therefore reflected that and was partially based on answering the questions that were asked but also on whether you answered to the best of your ability to do so. He would always make constructive comments on assignments. He greatly influenced my life in giving me a profound interest in teaching, learning and educating. After Junior highschool was over, I went to the local senior highschool, Alberni District Secondary School. During the course of my three years at this school I became very active in many things including culminating a life long involvement in the Scouting movement by earning my Chief Scout's Award, Queen's Venturer Award and the Gold Award of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Program. I was also very active in choir outside of school, and the Senior Stage/Jazz band of our school. Graduating second in the class of my highsschool, I eventually accepted an scholarship and admission to Simon Fraser University. During the later years of my University training, I became involved with student politics at the University level and served for two years a Senator on the University's Senate. I was also the Chairperson of the Senate Appeals Board.
After completing the majority of the requirements for my B.Sc. degree, I took a year off from my direct studies and completed a one year work term at a Japanese Pharmaceutical company. This took place in the Metabolism Chemistry lab at Taiho Pharmaceuticals. I had worked for their "daughter" company, SynPhar Pharm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The experience of living and working in a completely different culture and language was amazing. I fell in love with a number of things in Japan including most of the food specialities and much of the culture. Some of the culture was difficult to take though in the strange mix of deference and sexism that exists towards women. At one point women are revered as mothers and wives, but at the same time are "less than" when it comes to the working world and in making decisions of major importance. This attitude is slowly changing, but very slowly.
After my return to Canada, I completed the last of my Undergraduate degree requirements at Simon Fraser University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a Minor in Kinesiology, Co-Operative Education Option.
The summer after I graduated proved to be a very monumental one for me as it was the summer that I came out to my parents as a gay man. The process of coming to terms with my sexuality were ones frought with a lot of fertive exploration and much mental termoil. Part of my bad relationship with food came as a result of binging during this period to try and hide the pain and lack of understanding of what was going on, and the fear I had a a result of wondering what would happen when/if I did come out to my family.
Coming out as a gay man, for me, was liberating. The day had started out with a visit to the dentist. For me going to the dentist was and still is a necessary evil. I love the dentist that I currently have, but I hate going. So, after a wonderful time spent that morning in the dentist chair, with my mouth filled with dental stuff and my mind filled with my plans of how I was going to come out to my parents. I had planned to come out the next day as my Mom was going to be off work the next day and I thought that this would give her time to think and process it without having the pressure of working. On the way home from the dentist I got into a traffic accident with my parent's car. While it was not huge, it certainly represented the state that my mind was in at that point in time. After getting home, telling my parents about it and going and sorting out with the other driver a way to settle it out of the insurance program, I was in a fairly foul mood. Unfortunately, like most Mother's my Mom has very highly tuned "Kid's-Upset-o-Meter". I was downstairs in my bedroom and was just about to go upstairs when I heard my Mom and Dad talking about me at the kitchen table (at the top of the stairs). The were asking each other whether each knew why I was upset, and that it obviously went beyond the car accident. I decided at this point to modify my coming out plan and to do it then and there, as they were "prepared" for something.
I began my coming out story by asking them a simple question and that was "Do you love me?". My Mom answered immediately and said "Absolutely Yes, unconditionally". My father signalled his agreement with a "Yes." and a nod of his head. I preceded to tell them my story about thinking about this a long time and what it means and ultimately I decided to sing them a song that had become really important to me throughout my coming out process. The song was called "Anything Possible" (lyrics below) and spoke of the mark of a person is not whether they are gay or straight but rather the love the give and leave behind when they leave this world. After I finished the song, I basic said that this all summed up to say that I was gay and that that is the way I am and always will be. My parents were shocked. There were a few questions, but it was pretty silent for a while. Over the next week or so we began to talk more. Initially my father accepted it quicker and then this was followed by my Mom. I provided them with a number of great books on Coming Out and about and stuff like that.
Everything Possible (originally sung by "The Flirtations")
We have cleared off the table, the leftovers saved,
Washed the dishes and put them away
I have told you a story and tucked you in tight
At the end of your knockabout day
As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
Over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me
May it keep you good company.
You can be anybody you want to be,
You can love whomever you will
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know I will love you still
You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,
You can choose one special one
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
Will be the love you leave behind when you're done.
There are girls who grow up strong and bold
There are boys quiet and kind
Some race on ahead, some follow behind
Some go in their own way and time
Some women love women, some men love men
Some raise children, some never do
You can dream all the day never reaching the end
Of everything possible for you.
Don't be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
But seek out spirits true
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
They will give the same back to you.
After that summer was over, I accepted and took a Graduate Studentship at the the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children in the lab of Dr. Ingrid Tein. Dr. Tein is a Pediatric Neurologist with a speciality in Metabolic diseases. Her clinical interest and the work in her lab focus on disorders of fatty acid oxidation and in particular how the transport (or defective transport) of a specific co-factor called carnitine affects this process and therefore affects overall cellular function and eventual health. After two years working towards my Master's degree, I completed it and graduated with M.Sc. degree from the Department of Clincial Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. I was not completely sure of what I wanted to do at this point, so I took a job with one of my research advisors and worked for him for 3.5 years as a technician on a project to do with gene therapy approaches to a disease called Gaucher's disease. The money for this project dried up and he had just gotten a long renewal on his major research grant so asked me if I would like to do my Ph.D. I accepted his fellowship offer and began work towards my Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Don Mahuran at the Hospital for Sick Children. As of Sept 2003, I am hopefully about one year away from completing my degree. The work I am engaged on is to define regions of the proteins involved in the complex that breaks down a particular brain lipid. When any of the three proteins involved are defective it will result in storage of this brain lipid and eventually result in an early death. The most well know of the diseases is called Tay Sach's disease and is very common in the Jewish community.
In the midst of all of this, in June of 1997, a wonderful man entered my life, Mr. Iain James Roger Bennett. :-) We met on "The Steps" in the heart of Toronto's gay ghetto and the rest as they say is history. He has been my best friend for a long time and we have supported and love each other through thick and thin. More about him on the page about him. ;-)