As queer and trans people, we all live through phases of transition: the stages between awakening to our identity – realizing our intimate, truest self – and claiming that identity for the world to see.
Now, it’s time for CBRC to complete that evolution – declaring, with pride, who we are and what we do.
Our initial mandate, established at our founding more than 20 years ago, was to serve gay men. Men who, at the time, were still reeling from HIV and AIDS – the responses to which remained underfunded, untargeted, and stigmatizing. Tired of mainstream health, research and political systems neglecting our community, CBRC was born from a desire for gay men to live healthier, happier, and longer lives.
Along the way, we learned that “gay men” actually includes a lot of people – bisexual men, trans men, Two-Spirit and non-binary folks. As we built the organization up, expanding from British Columbia to across the nation in 2017, we made room for more of these voices and were better for it.
Simultaneously, our focus expanded from HIV and STBBIs to other pressing concerns – issues like mental health, substance use, racism, colonization, conversion therapy, gender-affirming care and so much more.
None of these issues solely impact gay men. Central to CBRC’s unique position in Canada is our evidence-based, research-informed advocacy and programs. The data told us that everyone in our community dealt with these issues – including queer and trans women – so we followed the data, just as we always have.
Today, CBRC’s roster of initiatives serves people of diverse sexualities and genders. Our community health leadership programs like Pivot, Investigaytors, and Do You Mind? – designed to train and mentor the next generation of researchers, advocates, and organizers – have begun recruiting anyone who expresses interest. Our Sex Now Survey – the largest and longest-running survey of queer and trans heath – is broadening its scope. The Summit, which just wrapped its 17th annual conference, has long-featured sessions by and for queer and trans communities. We’re collaborating with new staff and local and regional organizations to address the unique health needs of Two-Spirit, queer, trans, and non-binary people.
In other words, the work we’re doing no longer narrowly addresses gay men’s health. Gay men will always be part of our organization, but our initial scope has grown. Now, it’s time we made it official.
With the approval from our board of directors, CBRC has changed its mission and vision to one that includes diverse sexualities and genders.
In some ways, nothing will change – projects that are underway will continue to engage everyone in our community.
But in other ways, this represents an important shift for us. We can now stand onto the Canadian stage and say, with pride, we are champions for everyone in the community – and addressing the need for community-led research, knowledge mobilization, network building and leadership development.
This is an exciting next chapter for the organization, and one we plan to write in partnership with you and other valued partners.
The work continues, for everyone,
Community-Based Research Centre