It’s been an exciting summer for the CBRC research team. For the first time since 2018, Sex Now – the largest and longest-running survey of gay, bisexual, queer, and trans men, and Two-Spirit and non-binary (GBT2Q) people in Canada – is on the road again. In our baby pink T-shirts, we’re collecting data in-person at Pride events and other community venues across Canada. So far, our tour has taken us to Victoria, Kelowna, Mission, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax, Charlottetown, and St. John’s, with many more stops to come. We’ve also already heard from over 2,400 GBT2Q participants. Thank you to everyone who has participated!
With many communities not having had in-person Pride events over the last two years due to COVID-19, there has been a palpable sense of celebration and joy to be back in these spaces. And with much more work for our communities to do – whether it’s combating systemic racism, improving access to gender affirming care, ending the poppers ban, or improving HIV testing, prevention, and support services – the activist, protest-oriented, queer spirit at the core of Pride has also been strongly present.
In the midst of all this excitement, GBT2Q community members have been taking time out of their Pride weekends to complete a 15-minute survey and (in some cases) prick their finger to test for HIV using a self-test. Why? Because as GBT2Q people, we care about each other, and we know the difference data can make. Sex Now data contributed to improving access to HIV PrEP and testing, the conversion therapy ban, and substantial improvements to blood donation policy for queer men and gender diverse people. It’s this opportunity to contribute to improvements in our communities’ health and wellbeing that draws many people into the Sex Now tent to participate. While receiving $10 cash, a cute dog tag, and up to two HIV self-tests for participating doesn’t hurt, participation is an act of altruism and advocacy for many of our community members.
The survey has also been an opportunity to collect data on new and emerging issues our communities are encountering. For example, as monkeypox outbreaks continue in many parts of the country and vaccines begin to be rolled out in some cities, we’ve added questions to the survey to collect evidence on community priorities within public health responses to monkeypox. We plan to use this data to advocate for timely public health strategies that are responsive to our communities’ needs.
After more than two years of doing research online, it has been incredible to connect with so many community members face-to-face to hear about their experiences, why this work matters to them, and what needs to change to create a better world for all 2S/LGBTQ+ people.
If you’d like to add your voice by participating in Sex Now, you can find more information about the study and check out where we’ll be over the remainder of the summer here.
Ben Klassen is CBRC’s ‘Sex Now’ Research Manager.