MY NAME IS AMIN

MY FAMILY MOVED HERE FROM PAKISTAN WHEN I WAS 12. I LIVE WITH MY PARENTS AND SISTERS IN THE SUBURBS AND COMMUTE DOWNTOWN FOR MY 9 TO 5 JOB. MY PARENTS ARE PRETTY SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE, THOUGH MY SIBLINGS ARE MORE OPEN-MINDED. NONE OF THEM KNOW THAT I’M GAY.


I don’t really have any connection to the local gay scene. I do have a Grindr profile but it’s pretty discreet. Since I don’t feel comfortable sharing pictures, lots of guys don’t bother responding. Still I like just being there and seeing what other guys are up to.

A few days ago this amazing thing happened: I have a phrase in my Grindr profile written in Urdu, my first language. I got a message from a guy writing to me in Urdu, too! It wasn’t something I ever really expected, but we decided to go out for coffee. He’s just moved here from England and has a conservative family too, although he’s more out to them than I am to mine. It felt amazing to make that connection with someone who wasn’t pressuring me to come out.

He’s invited me to come clubbing with him and his friends. They’re more in the gay scene, but he’s promised they’ll be chill if I find myself feeling uncomfortable and want to leave early. They also said I can crash on one of their couches if we’re out too late for me to catch the last bus home. I’m a bit nervous, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up!

MY NAME IS BRODY

I’M SINGLE AND BASICALLY STRAIGHT. I’VE ONLY EVER DATED WOMEN AND HAVE NEVER BEEN INTIMATELY ATTRACTED TO OTHER GUYS.


That said, every so often a mood strikes and I just want a cock inside of me. It used to stress me out, but as the years went by I met guys who were like me and that helped me accept it.

Last time I was at the bathhouse I was bottoming and the condom broke, but I didn’t realize until the guy had come inside me. He acted like it was no big deal, but I don’t know. I want to ask my doctor for advice, but I’ve been seeing him for a long time and he has no idea I like to bottom for other guys.

I found a gay clinic online. I went in for an appointment, but it didn’t go well. The nurse who saw me assumed I’m gay. When I told him I wasn’t he apologized saying he always forgets that bi guys come to the clinic, too. I told him I wasn’t bi either, that I just have sex with guys sometimes, and he kind of gave me this look like he didn’t believe me and said, “Well, you know coming out can be a long process.” Maybe this clinic doesn’t include me after all.

MY NAME IS ALEX

I HAVEN’T TOLD MY PARENTS I LIKE GUYS, BUT THEY STOPPED ASKING ABOUT GIRLFRIENDS A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO SO I’M PRETTY SURE THEY KNOW THE DEAL.


I was excited to turn 19 and finally go to the gay bar. Although I’d had some racist
messages on the gay apps, I’m outgoing and pretty good looking and so thought it’d be easy to make friends at the bar. Only going out wasn’t as fun as I thought. Guys don’t respect my personal space, are super sexual toward me, and touch my hair. You get the idea.

One night I met some guys who were friendly and nice, we were talking about drag and I was really having fun. Then they started making off-colour racist jokes about a Black drag queen that was performing. It was all too disappointing. I was frustrated and really upset when I got home and I broke down crying. My parents didn’t need to know I was at a gay bar to understand what I was feeling and to comfort me.

MY NAME IS KEVIN

I’VE BEEN LIVING IN VANCOUVER’S GAY VILLAGE SINCE BEFORE THE ORIGINAL ODYSSEY OPENED. I MOVED OUT HERE FROM THE PRAIRIES RIGHT OUT OF UNIVERSITY AND BASICALLY HAVEN’T BEEN BACK THERE SINCE: THERE’S NOTHING FOR ME THERE, AND HASN’T BEEN FOR A LONG TIME.


When I came out here in the 80s it was tough – at the height of the AIDS crisis it felt like there was an invisible war going on, the casualties walking the street yet most people didn’t even notice. I got involved with local activists. One of our slogans was silence = death. If we weren’t visible, we weren’t going to make progress. And slowly but surely we did make progress, something I’m really proud of having been a part of.

I met my future partner 10 years ago at a house party. Before long I knew I never wanted to be with anyone else (well, romantically, at least). We got really serious really quickly. It was a few weeks into seeing each other that he told me that he had kids and an ex-wife who he didn’t want to come out to. They live in a conservative town in Ontario and he was afraid if they found out they’d cut him out of their lives. I tried to convince him to come out to them using the same arguments that we used during the AIDS crisis. He admired me and my friends for what we went through, but he wasn’t willing to risk losing his connection to his kids.

It was tough at first- knowing that your partner has a whole important part of his life that doesn’t include you- but I was crazy about him. I’m still crazy about him. He has six grandchildren now that he goes out to Ontario one week a year to visit. I get him the rest of the year. It’s not perfect, but it works.

MY NAME IS CARLOS

I’M HERE ON A WORK VISA FROM MEXICO. ONE OF THE REASONS I CHOSE TO LEAVE HOME WAS SO I COULD BECOME MORE INDEPENDENT. I HAVE A VERY BIG AND VERY CLOSE FAMILY WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO HAVE A PRIVATE LIFE.


Gay guys here think that I’m ashamed of my sexuality because I’m not out to my family. It’s not that I’m ashamed. It’s not even that I’m afraid of my family. They’re homophobic, in a typical way for a lot of families back home, but they’re not violent. It’s just that I don’t need or want them to know about this part of my life. It’s the only part of my life that is completely my own. I don’t have to explain it to them or justify it to them, or answer nosey questions. And that gives me more freedom than ‘coming out’ would.

RESOURCES

MENTAL HEALTH & COMING OUT

LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON TELLING OTHERS ABOUT
YOUR SEXUALITY?

A Resource Guide to Coming Out

is designed to help you navigate the process of disclosing your sexuality
for the first time.


WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME CONSIDERATIONS ‘COMING OUT’?

Take Time for Your Mind

takes a holistic approach to mental health and has information about how we might plan our coming out if we choose to do so.


LOOKING TO LEARN ABOUT DEPRESSION AND STRATEGIES TO HELP TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?

Heads Up Guys

provides resources for self-care.


SEXUAL HEALTH SERVICES

CAN’T ACCESS TESTING AT GET CHECKED ONLINE OR HIM HEALTH CENTERS?

Make sure you call the clinic you want to go to or check out their website ahead of time as most are operating at limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CheckYourself.Today

and locate sexual health services across BC.

Options for Sexual Health

hosts a number of sex-positive and accessible sexual health services and cliniocs across BC and the Yukon.


TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO HAVE A FULFILLING SEX LIFE DURING COVID-19?

HIM Covid-19 Response Page

has a number of tips for getting off while staying safe during COVID-19.


DIAGNOSED OR EXPOSED TO HIV OR ANOTHER STI AND NEED TO LET YOUR SEXUAL PARTNERS KNOW THEY OUGHT TO GET TESTED?

Tell Your Partners

allows you to anonymously send a text message or email letting past sexual health partners know they might have been exposed to an STI and points them to resources.


INTERESTED IN LEARNING HOW LIKELY YOU ARE TO PICK UP HIV & OTHER ST IS BASED ON THE SEX YOU’RE HAVING AND RECEIVE AN HIV AND STI PREVENTION STRATEGY TAILORED JUST FOR YOU?

Your Sexual Health Calculator

generates an HIV and STI prevention strategy and determines how likely you are to transmit HIV & other STI’s based on the types of sex and prevention strategies you currently use.


WANT TO CHAT WITH A SEXUAL HEALTH NURSE ONLINE, SET REMINDERS FOR YOURSELF TO GET TESTED, OR FIND SEXUAL HEALTH SERVICES NEAR YOU?

SmartSex Resource

provides a number of online resources and education with a focus on British Columbia.


SEXUAL HEALTH TOOLS

WANT AN HIV-PREVENTION STRATEGY THAT WILL ALSO PREVENT OTHER STIS?

Condoms and lube

are still a popular and reliable way of preventing HIV and other STIs. Learn more about using condoms and lube and how to get them for free.


INTERESTED IN AN HIV-PREVENTION STRATEGY FOR YOUR DAY-TO-DAY SEX LIFE?

PrEP

is a medication that is used by people who are HIV-negative to prevent us from picking up HIV. Learn more about PrEP and how to get PrEP for free.


NOT USING PREP OR CONDOMS AND CONCERNED YOU MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO HIV?

PEP

is a course of medication that helps prevent HIV. It has to be started within 72 hours of exposure. Learn more about PEP and how to get PEP for free.

Remember, a person who has HIV but has an undetectable viral load cannot pass it on. Learn more about U=U.


WANT TO GET GUARDED AGAINST HPV (HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS)?

Gardasil®

is a vaccine that prevents HPV. It is available and recommended for gay, bi, and other guys who have sex with guys. Learn more about the HPV vaccine and how to get it for free.

HPV vaccinations may not be easily accessible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but make sure you keep them in mind for your next visit to a healthcare provider.


TOOLS FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

WANT TO LEARN HOW TO BETTER SUPPORT YOUR LESS OUT GBT2Q CLIENTS?

OutsideIN Best Practices – General and sexual healthcare providers

OutsideIN Best Practices- Mental healthcare providers

These document are based on research that included an extensive literature review as well as key-informant interviews and focus groups with dozens of “less out” community members and healthcare providers.

OutsideIN’s Webinar

in collaboration with Community Based Research Centre and Pacific AIDS Network unpacked what outness in BC looks like, and fleshed out concrete ways that providers supporting less out clients.