Hometown: Nipawin, Saskatchewan
Lives In: Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton Men’s Health Collective, Edmonton, Alberta
Sexuality and Gender Identity Advocacy Committee,
Medical Students’ Association, University of Alberta
Think critically about diversity within your institutions and organizations, ask yourself who is not being represented and why, and take meaningful action to change it. This can be uncomfortable, but is necessary for a sustainable and equitable future.
Growing up in rural Saskatchewan I was pretty sure I was the only gay kid in town, and I was certain I would have to stay in the closet forever. Things changed quickly when I moved to Edmonton to study music. I met a bunch of other queer people and learned about resilience and the value of community. These experiences inspire me to address the health disparities facing LGBTQ+ people. As a medical student, I am passionate about building relationships between the medical profession and the LGBTQ+ community to create equitable opportunities for good health. I work with my faculty to reform our curriculum on LGBTQ+ health issues.
Which SDG are you most passionate about and why?
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being, starting with addressing the health disparities faced by marginalized folks including the LGBTQ+ community. I understand firsthand that LGBTQ+ people face stigma, and as a result, worse health outcomes. Reading literature on minority stress and LGBTQ+ health disparities has helped me appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
LGBTQ+ people face significantly higher rates of mental health issues, violence, HIV, and many other chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease, asthma, and obesity.
What lesson can you share about building meaningful partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals?
There is so much diversity within the LGBTQ+ community that I, a cisgender white gay man, cannot speak to from my own experience. I represent a very privileged part of this community. To be an advocate and ally for marginalized peoples you must listen to and centre your message on their lived experience. This listening was key for the human library session I led for the MD program. We invited LGBTQ+ people to come to the medical school and share their experiences of discrimination and stigma with small groups of students. It was successful because we prioritized collaborative partnership.