3 min

Spreading the health

LGBTQ Health Matters Week

THE BEST MEDICINE. Part of LGBTQ Health Matters Week is Truly Sexy Deeply Funny, a free all-ages health-themed comedy night at Buddies on Fri, Apr 17. Credit: Ali Eisner

This year the everexpanding LGBTQ Health Matters Week — which started in 2004 as a one-day health fair run by the Sherbourne Health Centre (SHC) — is growing again to include a slew of health-related events and workshops in Toronto as well as events in Barrie, Kitchener, Peterborough and London.

“With the recent launch of Rainbow Health Ontario, Health Matters is a campaign that it makes sense to spread across the province,” says Michele Clarke, health promoter in SHC’s LGBT program. “We want to encourage both mainstream and LGBTQ healthcare providers to engage with queer health issues, to feel like we’re all working on something together.”

Under the theme Building Healthier Communities the week — running Mon, Apr 13 to 19 — features more than 25 events. While Health Matters remains true to its roots at SHC it also includes activities held in a range of community spaces. Here’s a sample of what’s in store.

Six degrees of acupuncture

Kick off the week with a free mini de-stress acupuncture treatment at the Six Degrees Community Acupuncture Open House (Apr 13 from 4pm to 8pm; 192 Spadina Ave, room 512). Acupuncturist Lamia Gibson works with three partners and the clinic takes a community focus.

“We’re all queer,” she states by email, “and so it’s really important to us to be serving our community. Everybody experiences stress, but queers experience it in really specific ways.”

The open house aims to demystify acupuncture and provide a taste of what treatment feels like in a queer-positive space. “I feel that that alone can be healing,” says Gibson.

For more info call (416) 866-8484 or visit

Old dogs can learn new tricks

“Uncertainty has just risen to another level in the lives of seniors in our communities,” says Carole Baker, a counsellor and facilitator of expressive arts group Outside the Lines. “A big contributor to that is what’s happening financially, globally, in the huge loss of retirement income.

“Plus we’ve got the usual stuff that seniors struggle with, but in our communities I think the degree is all the greater, much of it fuelled by the extent of the isolation that our community members experience.”

On Apr 13 Baker will offer a meditation and creativity workshop to teach queer seniors new coping skills (6pm; at SHC, 333 Sherbourne St, room 2007). “There’s always an incredible power in the arts,” says Baker.

To register or for more information contact Baker at (416) 324-4191.

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about hormones

Doctor Kate Greenaway and registered nurse Mary Potter, both with SHC’s LGBT Program, give an overview of what hormones are and how they work on Apr 14 at 6:30pm (at SHC, 333 Sherbourne St).

“It’s a workshop geared toward trans people who are interested in starting hormones or who are on them already for a gender transition but have more questions than get answered in a quick office visit,” says Greenaway.

For more info or to preregister contact SHC’s Mariko Tamaki at or call (416) 324-4100 ext 5276.

Food, sex & health for new immigrants

On Apr 17 at 5:30pm newcomers to Toronto are invited to enjoy a full Indian buffet at the Sherbourne while they learn about safer sex and sexual health during SEXploration: Torontonian Sex Culture for Newcomers.

“Basically we’re trying to provide a context for newcomers who are queer,” says organizer Suhail Abualsameed. “Most events don’t provide safe space for people who don’t speak English as a first language. We want to show that immigrants are part of our community and they need their own cultural sensitivity and events.”

The event is a collaborative effort of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) and SHC’s Supporting our Youth (SOY) program. It’ll also feature the launch of the Newcomer/Immigrant Ontario Queer and Trans Youth Guide.

For information or to register contact Abualsameed at or (416) 324-5080.

Mmm… brains

New York-based sex therapist Marta Helliesen will be giving a workshop called “Brain Sex” at Good for Her (175 Harbord St) on Apr 17 at 7pm. The workshop will explore the neurobiology of desire, attraction, arousal, sexual anxiety, intimacy, fantasy, orgasm and more.

“The brain is like clay, and if you start to mould clay it can change,” says Helliesen. “As sexual beings we can change over time depending on exposure, experience and experimentation.”

Preregistration is required; workshop fee is $35; sliding scale available. A limited number of free spots are available through LGBTQ Health Matters on a first come, first served basis; contact Tamaki by Apr 13 ( or call (416) 324-4100 ext 5276.). For more information visit or call (416) 588-0900.

Laughter is the best medicine

For a dose of belly laughs don’t miss the Health Matters Week’s free health-themed comedy night at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St). Entitled “Truly Sexy Deeply Funny,” the all-ages show takes place on Apr 17 at 7:30pm and features some of Toronto’s sexiest and funniest queers including host Deb “Dirk” Pearce, Dawn Whitwell, Lindy Zucker and David Tomlinson, Mae Martin, Andrew Johnston, Lex Vaughn and more. Call (416) 975-8555 for more details.

And that’s not all….

Additional workshops include a discussion of queer experiences of coping with cancer at the Wellspring Odette House, a film screening in Barrie about gay male body image, a daylong symposium in Kitchener about issues facing sex workers in the Waterloo region, a talk about the experiences of children of queer parents, with some “queerspawn” on hand to answer questions, and much more.