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Only the Lonely

By Ryan Tran It can sometimes feel like a lonely world out there for a gay Asian man, even long before a pandemic kept us apart.   Like many queer folks, I struggled coming to terms with my sexual orientation in middle school and throughout high school. It was hard seeing my classmates pair up on dates, while giving excuses like “I didn't have time” or “that pretty girl wasn’t my type”. But all I really wanted was to have that first kiss, hold hands, and go on cute walks in the park with a handsome guy. I desperately craved having that first relationship with someone and to shower them with all my pent up love. I laid in bed imagining what it felt like to cuddle with a warm body as I fell asleep. It seemed so easy for my straight peers to find someone to date, but as queer folks we felt largely invisible. The beginnings of loneliness started in adolescence, but it didn’t end there. A lot of queer folks come out of the closet and expect to be welcomed with open arms when they finally venture into the LGBTQ community. I expected the same too, but instead I would find more hurdles and fences. We see people divided into tribes, cliques, and groups that force us into boxes and labels. For someone who is still grappling with who they are, how are they supposed to know what tribe they should be a part of? After feeling like an outsider growing up, we tend to assume that we’ll finally feel like we belong when we first step into the LGBTQ community. Where you first step into can really impact how you meet new people and who you meet   [...]

Are you looking to get on PrEP?

By Nick Hi! I’m Nick, and I’m the Nurse at Maple Leaf PrEP Clinic. I am thrilled to be writing my first blog post for ACAS. Over the years, I have received many questions about taking PrEP, so I’ve gathered all of the most commonly asked questions that you might have when considering whether or not you might want to start taking PrEP. First of all, what is PrEP? Simply put, PrEP is a pill you can take, where, if you take it daily and you happen to be exposed to HIV while you’re taking it, it will prevent you from becoming HIV positive. It is over 99% effective and is credited as a major reason why HIV rates have been dropping in recent years. Is PrEP covered by OHIP? Yes and no. In Ontario PrEP is fully covered by OHIP until the day you turn 25, after that OHIP no longer covers the cost of PrEP. The full cost of PrEP can be very expensive, but almost nobody actually pays this. There are so many clinic programs and insurance options now, so when people are on PrEP they’re able to get it for an affordable price or for free. It’s important to know that these programs also exist for people who don’t have OHIP. What are the steps to getting PrEP? Step one is to connect with a PrEP clinic. You don’t need a referral for these clinics, if you’re coming to my clinic all you need to do is either walk in or just email us (PrEP@mlmedical.com) and say you want to be on PrEP! Once you’re linked to a clinic, you’ll be asked to do some bloodwork and STI testing. When your lab results are in, you’ll have an appointment with a doctor [...]

What should I do when I learn someone is interested in suicide?

Trigger warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings. “I can’t enjoy anything”, “it would be better if your life was without me”, “I can’t handle it anymore.” When you hear these kinds of phrases, it might be an early warning sign of suicide. You might know someone in a suicidal mood, and ask yourself “what should I do to help them?” Considering suicide could happen to anyone - it might be a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. There can be a lot of factors that lead people to contemplate suicide. In LGBTQ+ communities, according to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, 1 in 3 trans youth attempted suicide in 2015. Sometimes people won’t show any signs of suicidal ideation. There was even a viral TikTok suicide video where it didn’t look like the person was going to commit suicide. However, if you observe people who are thinking about suicide, you might be the one who can help them. You can use the TASC model, and here are 4 steps to engage with people who might be considering suicide: T- Tune in When you see a sign from someone, for example sitting alone and separate from the party, mentioning how disappointing their life is. Those signs can point to considering suicide, so tune in by paying attention or showing you care about them. A- Ask After you tune in, and you still think you might see a sign of suicidal ideation, you should ask directly in a calm, non-judgmental manner to show you want to hear their answers “are you considering suicide?” You can also ask about their thoughts. This person might feel like they can’t talk about the pain that they are in, so by asking directly you can create a safe space to talk. S- State Ask [...]

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