Saturday, December 06, 2014

Scott Heggart shares his story on growing up as a gay teen who loves to play sports

Scott Heggart
Last March, Scott Heggart, a 20-year-old university student spoke at an event in Burnaby sponsored by anti-homophobia in sports organization You Can Play (and co-hosted by the Burnaby Teachers' Association) about what it meant for him to come out as a gay teen involved in sports. Scott wanted to share his experience of trying to deal with homophobic bullying and coming out to family and friends. Kudos to Scott for stepping up. He is making a difference so that other young gay people can experience a lived equality.

Jennifer Moreau reports:
[Burnaby, B.C.] Scott Heggart first figured out he was interested in boys when he was about 12 or 13, but the Ottawa native, and all-round high school jock, kept it to himself and lived in denial.  
"Immediately, I rejected it. In hockey, and really in all sports, there's a lot of homophobia that goes on. Subconsciously hearing that from teammates and hearing that at school as well, I was overcome with fear I would be rejected," he said. "I basically spent the next year of my life in a mental hell I created for myself, mentally punishing myself for thoughts and feelings I couldn't control."

That first year, he did not tell anyone about his sexual orientation.
"I essentially tried to turn myself straight. At the end of that year, when I realized it wasn't going to work, it was basically rock bottom for me," he said. Heggart took a knife into the bathroom and thought about hurting himself. "I put myself in a very dangerous place," he said. 
He eventually came out to his sister, who handled it well. "She made it very clear right away that she was perfectly fine with that," Heggart said. His sister told their parents, who were also supportive, and then the rest of the family was told. From that point on, things only got better for Heggart, now a 20-year-old university student. 
In Grade 11, Heggart decided to come out to everyone else by joining Facebook and listing himself as "in a relationship" with another young man. "And then I added people, and I waited," he said. The next few days were stressful, he said, and it took people a while to realize he was gay. Soon after, he got a text from a teammate. "I heard the news. I am proud of you," it said. 
Heggart also wants other gay kids to know they are not alone. "The world is an enormous, enormous place, and you are absolutely not alone in what you are going through," he said. "When you move on from high school, you realize how big the world is." READ MORE
Check out the web site for You Can Play .

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vancouver Gaymer

"We're fun, chill, and love to game" 

Are you a gaymer living in Vancouver's Lower Mainland and want to meet up with other queer folks who share your interests? Then check out Vancouver Gaymers!

On their web site they describe themselves as "a group of gaymers who meet up once or twice a month to play videogames, boardgames, card games, watch movies and attend local events." The group is welcoming to "...all queers and allies!"

Check out Vancouver Gaymer's website here and/or follow them on Twitter at:

AIDS Vancouver launches "The New Face of HIV—What it Means to be Undetectable" campaign

What do you think of the new HIV awareness campaign from AIDS Vancouver? The logo is a "reimagining" according to the Georgia Straight.  The disappearing red dots seen in the image above are "symbolizing the HIV virus after anti-retroviral treatment."

Georgia Straight reports:
[Vancouver, B.C.] AN AWARENESS CAMPAIGN that AIDS Vancouver executive director Brian Chittock describes as “a new way of talking about HIV” will be highlighted this year as the organization marks World AIDS Day. The campaign, called The New Face of HIV—What it Means to be Undetectable, refers to cases in which people have been diagnosed with HIV, but the virus is undetectable in their bloodstream as a result of anti-retroviral treatment. “Their immune system is not compromised anymore because of the anti-retroviral treatment, and they’re actually as healthy as anybody else,” Chittock told the Straight by phone. “So it’s just a new way of thinking and talking about people who are actually undetectable.”
According to AIDS Vancouver, most people with an undetectable viral load have a non-compromised immune system, will live a normal lifespan, and are very unlikely to transmit the virus sexually after being undetectable for six months. (The first two years of an ongoing European study has so far found no transmissions within couples from a partner with an undetectable viral load.)
AIDS Vancouver will be hosting an open house at 1107 Seymour Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 1. Information on the undetectable campaign, in addition to other current initiatives and research, will be available. READ MORE

Friday, November 21, 2014

Queer View on Vancouver's 2014 Civic Election

Tim Stevenson
A lack of LGBT representation amongst Vancouver's newly elected school and park board trustees has many in our community wondering how progressive they will be in the coming years, particularly on LGBT-related issues. A new article by Xtra's Rob Easton asks: Will NPA-led park and school boards remain queer-friendly? Good question. There are some concerns that the school board may once again fall prey to the influence of religious bigots whose fear and ignorance have previously created strife and controversy.

Rob Easton reports:
[Vancouver, British Columbia] Of the 11 openly LGBT candidates who ran for seats on Vancouver’s city council, school and park boards Nov 15, only one — Councillor Tim Stevenson — was elected. Incumbent park board commissioner Trevor Loke, who with Stevenson was one of two gay people elected in Vancouver’s last civic election, three years ago, fell about 1,400 votes short of keeping his seat this time. 
That has left both the school and park boards without direct gay representation at the commissioner or trustee level. Given the opposition faced by the Vancouver School Board (VSB) when it amended its anti-homophobia policy in June to make it more supportive of trans students, one former school trustee is now concerned about the amendments’ implementation. 
“I just worry there’s no one there who will champion the policy, really work to ensure that it has the funding that it needs to really be implemented and carry it through,” says Jane Bouey, who served two terms on the school board, ending in 2011, and ran unsuccessfully for reelection this time. 
Prior to the Nov 15 election, Vision Vancouver held a majority on the school board, with six out of nine seats (after former COPE trustee Allan Wong crossed the floor to join Vision in 2013). Now, the seats are divided evenly at four apiece between Vision and the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), with the Green Party’s new trustee, Janet Fraser, holding the deciding vote. 
Though returning NPA trustee Fraser Ballantyne supported the trans amendments, the NPA made headlines when it kicked former trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo out of the party’s caucus for their opposition to the policy changes and for not sharing the party’s “same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.” READ MORE