The LOUD Foundation invests in future leaders of the Canadian LGBTQ community. We believe that by supporting the development of students who possess drive, vision, compassion and knowledge, we can improve society and increase awareness of our diverse community.
This year we are granting 9 scholarships of $2000 and one Little Sisters’ Scholarship of $1000 for a total of $19,000. They are going to all corners of BC. And to all ages from high school to mid-30’s.
When they are young, everyone has a dream of who they want to be and what they want to do. One of my dreams was to go to university and earn a degree.
However, I was always discouraged by the school system from going to university, being told repeatedly I wasn’t good enough and that the local community college would do me just fine. Battered down and realizing there was no way I could afford it, even if by some miracle I did get in, I settled for what I was told I was good for. I settled for less than my dream, because I felt that was my only choice.
I graduated high school in 1985, and spent the next two years getting my accounting diploma from the local community college, while my father badgered me about the cost of my schooling. (It is important to note that I am by no means disrespecting the quality or value of community college education, as it provided me with the training for my career, I just had bigger dreams). It was during this time that I also began my journey of self-discovery regarding my sexual orientation.
After observing my dad, and listening to comments he would make, I realized my sexuality was something I needed to hide. I continued my education both in college, and in understanding my sexuality, and was very proud when I completed my diploma. On the day of my graduation, I was excited, but also sad and angry that my father chose to work, instead of watching his son graduate from college. Shortly after graduation, I came out as gay to my family, and felt the additional sting of not being accepted for who I am.
Fast forward to 2001, and a chance encounter with a neighbour, who in conversation mentioned she was getting her university degree in English. She told me how she had started when her kids were in school, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to put her education on hold. She continued to tell me that now, more than twenty years later, she was picking up where she left off, and was nearly finished her degree.
This made me stop and think: if she can do it, why can’t I? After some coaxing, I applied to Queens University, in Kingston, Ontario, through their Continuing Distance Study Program to get a BA in Psychology. Now you might be asking yourself, why did he choose Psychology? As I became comfortable with myself, and my sexuality, I started volunteering in the LGBTQ community, helping families, friends, and those living with HIV/AIDS, and I wanted to further my education in this field so that I could provide even more help.
After sending off my application, I spent the next few weeks while waiting for a response wondering “Am I good enough to get in? Can I do this? How can I afford this?” When the acceptance letter finally arrived, I was over the moon; I was going to university, and I was going to get my degree. I was finally going to live out one of my dreams!
My biggest obstacle now was how I was going to fund my education. Knowing from past experience that my dad would not be happy about my decision, and since we were still working on our relationship after I came out, I realized I would have to do this on my own. Fortunately for me, I had the financial means to see me through (all those years of community college paid off!), and although it would still be a struggle, I was determined to do it, because it was a dream, and nothing was going to keep me from it this time!
On April 1st 2016, after fifteen years, two stressful job changes, and the death of my father, I submitted my final paper, for my final class. The only thing left was to wait for the paper to be graded, and the formality of the little word “Conferred” to appear on my transcript before I would have my degree.
Fighting prejudice, ridicule, time and finances, I am extremely proud to share that, not only have I earned a BA in Psychology from Queens University, but I achieved a B grade-point average; taking classes online while working full time. In June 2016 I officially received the degree that I was told I would never get!
I couldn’t be happier, but this made me stop and think about what I wanted to do to celebrate the incredible accomplishment of my dream?
I understand that being supported in your dream is the greatest gift a person can receive, and education is a key factor in giving someone the chance to further themselves, change their destiny, and make a mark in the world. I want to share the gift of education with deserving members of the LGBTQ community who may not have the emotional or financial support to follow their dreams.
I want to do my part to show the LGBTQ youth of Canada that someone cares, thinks they are worth it and wants to help enable them achieve their dreams. I was fortunate that I was able to financially support myself, but there are many LGBTQ youth who have been disowned by their families, and are barely able to survive. Many have lost the financial and social support of their families and/or communities as a result of revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity. As many as 30% of B.C. homeless youth identify as queer or transgender, says a study by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.
I have decided that my graduation present to myself is to help fund scholarships for LGBTQ youth education by donating a portion of the commission and bonuses I receive in sales from my home-based business, Quayside Wellness. I am really stoked to have an opportunity to help others achieve their dreams in recognition of achieving my dream, and proving that I could do it! Ultimately I would love to make this an ongoing, yearly scholarship, funded by residuals and continued company growth.
Help me fulfill my wish to give back. By purchasing products from Quayside Wellness, not only are you making a decision that will improve your health, you support a local business, and you help me fulfill my wish to give back by directly contributing to the well-being of LGBTQ youth! Please help make this new dream a reality!