Author Daniel Allen Cox speaks in Owen Sound.  Photo from Clear Stream agencyAuthor Daniel Allen Cox speaks in Owen Sound. Photo from Clear Stream agency

Queer ex-Jehovah's Witness shares his story in Owen Sound

The Owen Sound Memoir Series is set to welcome an acclaimed queer writer from Montréal at the next literary event at the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library.

Daniel Allen Cox will share his story, "I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer ex-Jehovah's Witness."

"Being queer wasn't an option, at least openly so, which was kind of the point right?" he said. "One has to be authentic in one's life as it's felt and also lived. And so, I think a lot of that messaging just kind of like lingers in the background right, it just kind of lingers in your psyche in terms of shame, and you know, self hate, I would even go so far as to say."

Cox said growing up in a group where homosexuality is not condoned led to self loathing. Cox also stuttered, which was also something the Jehovah's did not accept.

"And how the social shunning that they practice also made these entanglements last a long time," he explained. "And so it was actually my responsibility as a writer, as an artist to understand how deeply those went and then to rely on community to figure out how to actually talk about this stuff."

Cox said that it took him a long time to decide to leave.

"It was only when I began to talk to other's who'd left, not only the Jehovah's Witnesses, but other groups like it, that I began to see patterns in how we all had similar things in common. How we departed, and also how we kept quiet about it," he added.

He pointed out many organizations force members to hide their true identity.

"Where we feel that we can talk about something by this code of silence that's been forced either, in the case of like family secrets, or just even like a background that we have in our genealogy that we're we're not proud of," Cox continued.

On Friday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m. Cox will read from his book and answer questions. On Saturday, May 25, at 1:00 p.m. he will lead a writing workshop discussing the writing process as it applies to memoir, short fiction, and other creative writing.

"How I began to write about things of my life. What the avenues are for lifting that first rock," he shared. "It's not always obvious actually how to even research one's life. And it's not even given that one's life is a research project, because new things are unfolding every day. And so we have our future to consider, and especially our present. So adding on top of that, our past, can feel like a huge burden."

The library is located at 824 1st Ave W. in Owen Sound. Tickets are available at and at the Owen Sound Public Library.

Cox said that writing the book was a little like therapy, but added the reaction to the book really highlighted how people are controlled by organizations that force them to bury their true identity.

"Having people come up to me after events, relating similar stories and then hearing how actually they dealt with it, really fanned my understanding of how prevalent coercive control is," he added. "It's not just in relation to cults. It's also in fitness groups. It's also in corporate environments and especially in relationships, abusive relationships. And they'll have the same technique."

His memoir was a finalist for the 2023 Grand Prix du livre de Montréal and was named one of the best books of 2023 by Publishers Weekly and one of the best audiobooks of 2023 by Audible.

In all, Cox is the author of four award-nominated novels: "Shuck", "Krakow Melt", "Basement of Wolves", and "Mouthquake". His essay "You Can't Blame Movers for Everything Broken" is reprinted in Best Canadian Essays 2024 and was named a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2023. He has served as a writing mentor for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and for the Quebec Writers’ Federation, of which he is past president.

The Owen Sound Memoir Series brings acclaimed and award-winning Canadian authors to Owen Sound to read from their memoirs and lead writing workshops. Its mission is to celebrate the experiences of diverse Canadians, provide a space for important conversations, and teach writing skills.

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