Great to meet you! MAX is Ontario’s first stand-alone health organization for guys into guys. We help them get connected with competent, sex-positive, and hassle-free resources in the nation’s capital.
MAX is here to help guys who are into guys navigate the mental health system, connect with other community resources, and contribute to community based-research. We’re looking forward to continue developing our programming to suit the needs of our communities.
Haven’t we met before?
We’ve been operating as Ottawa Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative (OGMWI) since 2002.
That was quite the acronym!
Ottawa loves its acronyms, but it was clear that we had outgrown ours.
We also now have some real funding to expand and renew our focus on the health and wellbeing of gay, bisexual, two-spirit, queer and other guys who are into guys, whether cis or trans (GBT2Q).
But why MAX?
In January 2017, we brought together about 30 community members from various ages and backgrounds to have a real conversation about the future and focus of our organization. We also reached out to a lot of organizations, individuals and community members to ask them about how to best communicate with a diverse group of guys into guys.
Here’s what the community told us.
We need to present a vision for health that prioritized innovation and responsibility over tradition and risk. We needed to be courageous, direct and have a clear focus on better health outcomes for guys who are into guys.
Some folks don’t identify with the word “gay”. Others don’t like the word “queer”. Some don’t go by “him” at all. We needed something fresh and bold that didn’t throw the alphabet or jargon at people who already have a strong sense of their own identity, or perhaps they’re just getting to know themselves as guys into guys. We were clearly told it needed to be very flexible.
We also took a lot of time to get a sense of the colours and images that would be most appropriate. We analyzed and deconstructed traditional and contemporary representations of “gay men”. We saw a lot of similar colours chosen and images that focused on human moments.
It has action and momentum. It’s friendly and not corporate. It’s English-French bilingual without being complicated. And it says exactly what we want to help you do: Maximize your health and wellness.
Who should meet MAX?
Our services are for any men who have sex with or are into men, whether or not they identify as gay. All guys into guys have the right to satisfying sex lives free from guilt, stigma, coercion, violence, and shame.
We’re taking a holistic approach to health. We believe that wellness means physical, mental, spiritual, sexual, and social well-being. Our harm-reduction approach enhances the capacities and right of guys who are into guys to make informed choices that fit with our personal values and help us to manage risk in our lives.
Our services are about long term strategies to maximise our health. Although HIV remains a priority in our lives, it does not define guys who are into guys.
What’s next for MAX?
Keep an eye out for us in the coming weeks as we start to roll out our first major campaign, which will be focused on mental health. To stay in the loop, be sure to follow us on Facebook or sign-up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.
Please also spread the word! Our communities will be even healthier if more people start to know our name.