The 25-year-old — who does not identify as female and uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they” — adapted their life in Corner Brook that way to cope with feelings of isolation.
That is why it was quite remarkable that they ventured outside their comfort zone so profoundly in entering the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust #HearOurStory campaign.
Noel publicly opened a facebook post containing an essay depicting life growing up queer in Corner Brook.
In doing so, they exposed a private life for everybody to see.
“More so than facts, statistics and pie charts, these personal stories about what LGBT folks experience is the kind of information that gets people to understand the cause and understand what we are going through,” Noel said.
In divulging such a personal story, Noel actually had little inner reflection or agenda. It was a bold step with only the impacts of what speaking out will mean for those who have, or might someday, be in the same or similar situation. Those people are not alone, according to Noel.
“More so than anything, I?am doing it for other queer and trans folks in the community.”
From struggles to fit the stereotype of a young girl to “dark times” as a young adult, Noel was a high school dropout and suffered from substance abuse. They returned to Corner Brook from Alberta, and that is where the change began.
The acceptance and support at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University —?where Noel is now president of the student union and representative of the Canadian Federation of Students— was liberating.
Noel is not professing everything is perfect in life, but it is easier.
“I still have insecurities,” Noel said.
“I still go through some of the same things I went through when I was a teenager.”
They put things in perspective, and the criticism of their identity doesn’t have the same impact. Noel says they are successful.
“Success is sort of the best revenge to all the folks that have brought me down over the years.”
Noel is an active advocate with the LGBTQ community. The essay which won the #HearOurStory campaign will help with the awareness message and education.
Noel is still shocked their essay was chosen, and is nervous about the continued publicity and notoriety associated with it.
An Egale Human Rights Trust film crew from Toronto will visit Corner Brook this weekend to make a short documentary about Noel, which will then get posted on YouTube and the Egale website.