About Darren Stehle

I am a gay man.

Darren Stehle Pride 2013. Photo by Burke Campbell

Me & Christiaan, Pride 2013. Photo by Burke Campbell

All my life it feels like there’s an injustice about being a fully out, completely self-accepting gay man.

Why is that? Well, for one thing the closet is/was a very powerful container. In my case I was fully trapped inside the closet until I was 18 and finally started to come out to some of my closest friends in the summer after grade 13, the last year of high school.

But I never stopped coming out. No matter how far out I am, I seem to always carry a bit of the closet around with me. I may not realize that I’m actually standing within the doorway of the closet, albeit with the door fully open. It may be that I say something in such a way that’s generic or gender neutral. Being complicit and purposefully vague provide shadows.

Our language forms our reality.

Our language lives in the closet to the advantage of those who are not gay. For example, saying, “My boyfriend” sound like we’re just dating and in our teens or 20’s. At 51 and having been with Christiaan for over 5 years, I call him my partner. But my partner is neutral. Partner could mean, “business partner” or “life partner.” It can be used by a straight couple as easily as a gay, lesbian, or trans couple.

I could say my “same-sex partner” or I guess I could say, “My partner, Christiaan.” The later at least is clear and honours him by his name and my respect for myself as an “out” gay man.

The three of us

But why do I have to be in or out? Why do we need this dichotomy? These are rhetorical questions which may, hopefully, be observed by historians as a dark time when not everyone was allowed to fully express their true nature and authenticity.

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There is no time to wait. There is only now.

You can be whoever you want to be, but sometimes it’s really freaking hard to get there on your own.

I know how much of a struggle it can be to become who you want be. To be able do the work you love, to have the time, focus, and energy to create something meaningful that will improve the life of one person close to you, or perhaps you have a grander goal of impacting the world.

“Becoming” fascinates me.

Every Body Has A StoryMy super power is my self-awareness and self-reflection. This is not surprising to anyone who knows me. It’s not surprising to me, as a gay man who spent years in the closet, only to come out and eventually pursue a gay-themed Master’s degree (which didn’t work out) followed by 10 years working for Pink Triangle Press, one of the longest operating gay and lesbian media companies in the world.

When I ventured out into health and fitness as my “business” in 2003, I explored being the “gay voice of Toronto fitness” and then the “gay voice of a positive mindset.” But I think those aspirations came before I was skilled enough to deliver a powerful and inspiring message that would resonate with people.

So I left all of that behind and focused on fitness and nutrition. As my coaching skills have evolved over the years, people close to me asked why I wasn’t doing work with gay men. Each time I was stumped to answer. It’s as if I’m hiding behind transparent glass. My closet still lingers, but now I am shattering that glass. Whatever cuts, bleeding, or pain I bring into my work benefits my awareness, my empathy, and ability to simply sit with people and help them in their own way to become successful and to transcend their limitations.

Bear witness to your soul.

Going deep scares people. We’re not supposed to talk about the dark stuff, those feelings, desires, dreams, and hopes we had as kids, that we’ve suppressed and consciously forgotten.

Going deep means you might find out what you really want out of life, but to get that thing, that new state of being might mess things up. Your life might become chaos for a while. Things could be very uncomfortable while you do the work to transition into that new mindset and space of being.

This is why many people “Don’t go want to go there,” but those who do most often have help. They seek out a guide, mentor, or a coach who will be there to support them above and beyond what they believe is possible.

I’ve done this work. I love it. It sometimes scares me, but I know fear is nothing but a self-imposed limitation.

Want to Raise Your Consciousness about What’s Possible?

transformation-fitness-nutrition-health-coachingEach of us has a self-constructed box that limits us. The habits, routines, and beliefs that might have served you in the past, are also the things that are holding you back.

As a coach, I’m here to help you expand, not contract. My role is listen so deeply to what you’re not saying that I can ask you the questions you’re most afraid to answer. That’s where the magic happens and the mindset shift begins so that you can transform and come out of the box you’ve built up around yourself.

Want to raise the bar on what you believe you can accomplish? I invite you to book a couple of hours with me for a mind-flexing conversation.