Kari is Coordinator of Safe Spaces at Interior Community Services in Kamloops, where she brings her passion and creativity to supporting LGBT youth and their allies. Jenny is a Population Health Facilitator with the Interior Health Authority. She focuses on injury prevention, with a particular interest in addressing suicide prevention among youth ages 10 to 24 years
I’ve been giving awareness training on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities for Education Outreach Services at Qmunity, BC’s queer resource centre. I’ve led trainings for health care, social service and criminal justice workers, as well as students at colleges and universities.
In my 45 years of existence, sex between two men in Canada has gone from being a criminal offence and diagnosable mental illness to being an act that “consummates” a marriage recognized by society, government and some churches. Despite these legal, medical and social advances, the reality is that being gay and having a mental illness can result in delayed or inappropriate treatment. My story is a case in point.
I have a mental illness, I’m gay and I’m a person of colour, from a South Asian community. I belong to a cultural community where most people do not accept homosexuality and many people do not understand mental illness. But over the years I’ve found ways to overcome my challenges and focus on my strengths.
What makes us desire partners of one sex or another? What makes us feel “male” or “female”? What is “normal” and what is not? What can be considered “pathological” (i.e., unhealthy or sick)? These questions have taken on great importance over the last hundred years as researchers and the general population wrestle with the diversity of sexual and gender expression.