For those of us who aren’t gay men and are lucky enough to work with them


by Sarah Chown

If you are someone who is not a gay guy, and works with gay men – as a health care or service provider, sex educator, teacher, social worker, volunteer, or researcher, this blog is for you! Since it is so, so important that there are lots of people working towards gay men’s health, we thought it may be worth it to share some reflections on working with gay guys as someone from outside these communities.

Hello, hello!

My name is Sarah. I’ve been working gay men’s health for roughly three years in Vancouver, BC, unceded Coast Salish Territories. I am so grateful to the many gay men I have had the opportunity to work alongside on research projects and in community organizations. I am by no means an expert, and am still always learning how to best support the gay communities I care about so deeply. However, I do still get things wrong and its not uncommon that I make mistakes. These are a few of my thoughts about things that work for me in my efforts support and strengthen the health and wellbeing of gay men.

      1. It is crucial that diverse gay men lead this work, and that they are supported by a lot of people – including those of us who are not gay men. To do this work, it is super important to earn the trust of the communities we are working with. A good starting place for that is by actively affirming gay men’s ongoing leadership and initiatives. For example, we might highlight initiatives led by gay men to our colleagues. In groups of gay men, we may choose to do more listening than speaking. It may also mean creating space within your work for gay men to take on leadership roles. Jessica Danforth, an indigenous activist working in sexual and reproductive health, reinforces the importance of communities choosing to work with you just as much as you deciding to work with them.
      2. Earning trust of gay communities is an ongoing process. It demands a certain amount of intentional thought and consideration about our social location and the power dynamics that may unfold as a result (also known as self-reflexivity) within our work. Since most of us are taught some degree of homophobic attitudes that are pervasive in mainstream society, these ideas are often so ingrained within us that it is not always obvious how they shape our thinking. A major part of working with gay men is recognizing these attitudes within ourselves, as hard as it can be to admit they are there.

There is no one point in time when we get a lifetime membership to working with gay men. There is no one prescriptive way to do this work. Instead, it is an ongoing process of learning, working alongside communities, considering the ways our roles impact the work of gay men, and always, always looking for ways to support communities we so deeply care about in building the kind of world they want to live in.

Sarah lives and breathes gay men's health in Vancouver, BC, unceded Coast Salish territories. She also loves the colour purple, baking, and spending time with the many fabulous gay boys in her life.

Comments

08/13/2016
I was back in Toronto for a month, visiting my partner, Jon, after traveling through Europe. Three w
06/27/2016
“You never know what might be at the back of someone’s throat,” Berndt said, sitting up from the san
06/10/2016
When David told me that he was HIV positive I cried for two days. He was the first man that I ever l
05/27/2016
Kody Carlson is a queer who lives with his cat, Eve, in Atlantic Canada. He wrote his thesis on mind
05/17/2016
I didn’t have regular insurance to see a doctor but there was a free sexual health clinic not far fr
04/11/2016
While chatting on Scruff, I didn’t mention that I was on PrEP. I made the decision to stop telling p
RECENT COMMENTS
Sero-Discordant Relationships: More Complex than Just Sex
"Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, feelings and experience with dating and relationships, Peter. I think your growing self-awareness will contribute to finding the kind of connections relationships you seek. Hopefully you find an equally self-aware partner! ;)"
Fixing Together
""If you call 911 in a drug-use scenario, everyone in the room could potentially be arrested." There's a petition to try and change this in Ontario. http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/deb-matthews-introduce-good-samaritan-laws-to-protect-drug-users-who-call-911-during-an-drug-overdose"
‘Tis the Season for S.A.D.
"Hi Gilles, Thank you very much for your helpful article. I've suffered from the same symptoms for many years as well. I've also found that light therapy, vitamin D supplements, regular exercise and socializing really help in managing the symptoms. Thanks for sharing your experience. Much appreciated! Myles"
‘Tis the Season for S.A.D.
"Great article Gilles. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am a mid 40s gay man, partnered as well, with S.A.D.. I have an experience almost identical to yours. Your tips & advice are noted. I'd be interested in an email exchange on the topic. Msg me when you can, & I thank you for writing this piece. Cheers, Gord"
RECENT POSTS
8/13/2016 2:06:51 PM
The Blame Game
6/27/2016 12:39:11 PM
Why Talk About STIs?
6/10/2016 12:53:51 PM
The Reality of HIV
5/17/2016 12:21:10 AM
To Educate The Educator

Ask Us

Curious? Ask a Question

Twitter

Q&A

Sometimes when I’m feeling down on myself I lose my sex drive. Is this normal?
See Answer
Copyright © 2019 Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance. All Rights Reserved.