B.C. Briefs

Hearing about Gay Health in Kelowna

Written by Joshun Dulai

On a cloudy Vancouver morning, Olivier and I boarded a plane headed for bright and beautiful Kelowna. Our mission was to present findings from Sex Now 2011 and gain some insight on how to better promote Sex Now 2014 in the region. We also wanted to get some feedback on the kinds of questions that should be on the next survey. Our discussion with community members was held in a quaint coffee shop in Downtown Kelowna and was hosted with the help of Jazzy, the new Men’s Health Project Coordinator at Living Positive Resource Centre.

Before we began, we learned that since CBRC’s last visit to Kelowna, the local Pride Centre had closed its doors. While we were disappointed to hear about this, the gay community there seems to be quite engaged still. We had nine people attend our forum and events do continue to happen in the city despite the centre’s closure.

After a fun icebreaker, Olivier and I presented Sex Now data pertinent to the Okanagan region. After going over the findings, the conversation started with who people felt were missing or underrepresented in the survey. One person said that he wished he saw more visible minorities represented, while others pointed out the fact gay men who are living in poverty or with disabilities may also be missing from the data. Other groups that might be overlooked are those who are homeless, engaging in sex work, or living in residential care homes.

After identifying these groups, community members brainstormed some better ways to promote the survey in the area. One way that was thought of was advertising on gay porn websites or online stores that are popular with gay men. The group also suggested better ways to recruit guys locally, which included community boards in libraries, resource centres, and cruising areas.

The final topic of the evening was what kind of questions attendees wanted to see in the next survey. Everyone seemed to agree on having a question or two on migration; asking guys where they grew up, how long they lived there, and when did they move to their current location. Another topic was morality; questions about lying, cheating, and asking men about their own conscience.

The Okanagan residents also wanted to have more information on the finances of gay men: fixed incomes, pensions, welfare, retirement plans, and financial barriers to community participation. Other topics that were raised were religion and spirituality, guidance and role models, consumer habits, and attitudes on marriage, children, and pets.

The group was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and engaged; most wanted to stay and talk further about the survey than the allotted two hours. Almost everyone seemed excited to sign up as a “Sex Now Ambassador” and wanted to help in any way they could with recruitment and promotion for 2014. It’s safe to say that when Olivier and I left the next morning, we would be bringing back with us some bright new ideas for research and a few new friendships as well.

Jazzy Aul from Living Positive Resource Centre in Kelowna and Joshun Dulai from CBRC

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