Movember Brian McCourt Ian Nevdashenko
Brian McCourtImage by: Ian Nevdashenko
Movember Brian McCourt Ian Nevdashenko
5 January 2022

Brian McCourt On Conversations and Experiences Across Generations

5 minutes read time

Many men across the country continue to struggle with the concept of vulnerability, expressiveness or openly speaking about their feelings. Despite living in a shifting society, outdated and incorrect societal ‘standards’ don’t tend to praise these traits as being ‘masculine’, instead encouraging men to respond to emotions by ‘rubbing some dirt in it’ or ‘sucking it up’.

As a father of two and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Contractor, Designer and television personality, Brian McCourt, is looking to change this mindset for his own children, instilling in them a new perspective from the ground up by encouraging open and honest conversations amongst his friends and family

Brian takes a seat in the barber chair to chat about being a father, co-parenting, his journey to prioritizing mental health and much more.

Why do you think organizations like Movember are important?

It’s really important to raise awareness for men’s health issues. For example, before Movember, I had no idea that testicular cancer was one of the most common and preventable cancers amongst young men. I think it's important to gain awareness of these things so that you can have open conversations, schedule regular check-ups and prevent health struggles if caught early.

Men aren't traditionally known for being in tune with their sensitive side or talking about sensitive topics. Nowadays, people are talking to each other more openly, thanks to organizations like Movember, which is a step in the right direction for our generation and for future generations.

As a father of two, have you started thinking about how you want to talk to your kids about mental health and other struggles?

When I was younger, I wasn’t as aware of the importance around mental health. You heard of someone being sad or depressed but didn’t really understand it. With my kids I think about the tough conversations I might need to have with them but I want to create space for them to feel like they can talk to me about anything

I also think a lot about what kind of struggles my kids are going to face with two moms and a gay dad. Is that going to be difficult for them in school? Will they be teased? I assume there'll be something at some point. There’s this balance of wanting to shield them from any negativity, but also wanting to arm them with confidence in who we are as a family to enable them to handle anything on their own. I just think it’s important to reassess as they grow up and to have open conversations about how they are feeling. Being proud doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be in the media and that’s something we will navigate as a family day by day. But for now, I feel that a bit of visibility can go a long way for modern families, co-parenting families and future LGBTQ+ parent families.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your life? How have you overcome them?

I’d say that becoming a dad was the biggest challenge for me. I knew that I wanted to be a dad from a young age, but being gay, I didn't know how I was going to make that happen. I’m the youngest of 7 siblings and loved being part of a big family, so having children was something I always saw in my future. Being open to opportunities that look different from what I had pictured for myself was key in creating a family.

We grow up with an ideal of a family made up of a married mom and dad with kids but families today are much more diverse and complex than that. For instance, it is estimated that only 22% of all households in North America are nuclear families (which is a mom and dad with biological children), the rest are blended, multi-generational, single parent families, same-sex parent families, non-biological parents etc. And it just goes to show that kids don’t need a mom or a dad; kids need love and a stable environment and that can come in many combinations of family.

With a family and with the demands of your life as a TV personality and entrepreneur, what resources have helped you the most in your day-to-day?

I’m pretty awful at hiding my feelings (which is a double edged sword I suppose). When I’m feeling a certain way, I talk about it. It seems to have lead me to some really supportive friendships in my life.

While my relationship with ‘the moms’ - my co-parents – is centred around the kids, they are also a couple of my best friends who have been incredibly supportive through some of the more challenging times.

A lot of co-parenting families stem from romantic separation and some live very separate lives – which works really well for some families. Ours is and has always been a platonic-coparenting-relationship so we blend parts of our lives together and have paved our own path for what is best for our family.

About 11 years ago now, my sister passed away from cancer. I went through a really hard time with that, but after a lot of processing and acceptance, I was left with a lesson of my own impermanence. I think about death all the time, not in a morbid, awful, scared way – but in a positive way. I use it as a tool for perspective and appreciation. I’ve later come to know that this is a Buddhist meditation practice called Maraṇasati - who knew!?

When becoming a dad became a real possibility, I was really scared. I worried that I wasn’t ready or that my parenting arrangement wouldn’t work out or that I wouldn’t be enough. Thinking about that impermanence is what gave me the confidence to have kids in a parenting situation that I had no examples of and no real idea of how it was going to go. It was scary and exciting and just so happens to be the best decision I have ever made – I feel, in a way, that I owe that to my sister.

Being a dad can be mentally draining - and for many men, it's the precursor to mental health struggles. Parenting is tough, which is why Movember launched Family Man. Family Man is a free, online course designed to equip parents, particularly dads, with the practical skills needed to help cope with frustrating situations with an ultimate goal of improving their mental wellbeing by empowering them to feel more confident and engaged in the parenting process.