The mean­ing of Man­hood

Book fea­tur­ing per­sonal sto­ries of 45 men to launch Sun­day

StarMetro Toronto - - NEWS - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | toronto

Shane Cupid vividly re­mem­bers grow­ing up in fos­ter care.

“It was like hell,” said the 24-year-old, re­call­ing how he used to talk to him­self all the time be­cause there was no one else to con­verse with.

“To think that every­body else was out­side hav­ing fun while you’re just locked up in the room, it was so hard. I would cry at night.”

Years later, Cupid has chan­nelled his own tu­mul­tuous child­hood into ef­forts to help youth in Toronto.

He works as a sum­mer camp coun­sel­lor and was part of the youth com­mit­tee at last year’s Pan Am Games.

He is one of 45 Toronto men whose per­sonal sto­ries are shared Man­hood, a new book exploring con­tem­po­rary mas­culin­ity and touch­ing on themes like sex, strength and iden­tity.

For Cupid, shar­ing his story is a way to find him­self and cre­ate a bet­ter life, some­thing he hopes can serve as a les­son for other young men.

“The chal­lenge is al­ways to try and not be my past, but be a bet­ter fu­ture,” he said. “Don’t let all that bad stuff get to you.”

Za­mani Thomas wrote the book’s in­tro­duc­tion, and he hopes the project will en­cour­age youth to look past tra­di­tional ideas about man­hood and mas­culin­ity.

“There’s this be­lief that show­ing a softer side for men is a sign of weak­ness,” he said.

Thomas worked with youth across Toronto for the project, and said it was a chal­lenge to get them to open up. Those who did shared sto­ries about ex­pe­ri­enc­ing racism, be­ing bul­lied, beat­ing cancer, wrong­ful in­car­cer­a­tion and more.

“Their sto­ries are so pow­er­ful it’s like an ex­plo­sion,” he said.

Man­hood’s of­fi­cial launch takes place Sun­day at Daniels Spec­trum on Dun­das Street East.

Liz Bed­daLL/Metro

Za­mani thomas, left, and Shane cupid are among 45 toronto youth who shared their per­sonal sto­ries in Man­hood, a book exploring top­ics such as sex, strength and iden­tity for young men.

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