This year, MAX Ottawa had the pleasure of attending the SMASH (Sommet Montréalais d’Action pour la Santé des Hommes ayant des relations sexuelles ou amoureuses avec d’autres hommes) in its 2021 online edition, organized by RÉZO.
The summit starts with a presentation, given by our colleagues at Interligne, which explains various sociological concepts that have an impact on the mental and sexual health of our community members. Among the defined concepts, we can find the concept of cisnormativity, heteronormativity and internalized homophobia. Faced with the question often asked in our community as to whether the act of of refusing to date a trans person is transphobic, one of the summit attendees suggested this article.
This was followed by a presentation on conversion therapy from a study conducted by CBRC. This presentation emphasizes that banning conversion therapy is only part of the problem. It should also be noted that several of the participants who underwent conversion therapy were members of religious groups.
Furthermore, it was mentioned that a need for HIV education remains necessary to address stigma. The panelists pointed out a great lack of confidence in the health system on the part of trans people, immigrants and / or sex workers. The panelists reported that community health centers/clinics offer the most appropriate services to people’s reality.
This summit was also marked by very moving testimonies such as the one that spoke about the difficulty of sex work and the invisibilization of sex workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also listened with great interest to a testimony about the harshness of prison conditions for members of the queer community. There was a mention of the shock experienced when the person’s arrest occurs at the same time as their coming out. They also discussed feelings of insecurity about their identity and the complexity of accessing care for people living with HIV who are in prison. This testimony was given as part of a presentation on abolitionism and the correspondence project.
Finally, several other very interesting presentations followed. For example, we were able to listen to various tips as part of a harm reduction approach for sexting (relocate photos, make sure not to put markers that could identify us on the photos, find help on https://aidezmoisvp.ca/app/en/index).
Before the closing remarks, we were able to attend the presentation of the project “it takes a village” by Alexandre Fafard and Jean-Sébastien Rousseau who had already made a superb presentation during the 2020 edition of SMASH. Researcher Maxim Gaudette also presented his work on the impact of COVID-19 on men who have chemsex as well as the difficulty of reaching out to them in the context of research or sharing of resources. .
Like every year, we grow out of this sharing of knowledge and empathy that takes place at SMASH. I can only thank RÉZO for organizing such a summit. I would also like to thank the panelists whom I was unable to quote in this short blog post and who gave us from their time and energy.
This is an English translation of the original version: https://maxottawa.ca/retour-sur-le-smash-2021/