The PrEP Clinic Presents
Embrace all of you and be proud of who you are. Join 6 queer voices as they share their journey!
Community Members Featured:
The PrEP Clinic
“Rising from the past, thriving, and living my best life today”
Edward, originally from Damascus, Syria, left his homeland because of the persecution queer people face and where it is criminalized to be gay. With the help of organizations like Rainbow Railroad he was able to relocate to Toronto in search of acceptance and personal growth.
In Canada, he embraced his true identity, unlearned misinformation about sexual health and HIV, including learning the science of undetectable being untransmittable (U=U). He had to overcome negative beliefs about his identity instilled in him growing up – that impacted his day to day life and relationships.
Now a proud Canadian citizen, Edward is happily living life to his full potential openly and honestly. He enjoys capturing the beauty in nature through his photography work.
“Owning My Crown” for Edward means embracing his authentic self and celebrating his unique qualities.
“Tradition, community, and love. Living life my way”
Mikey, originally from Hong Kong, is now a Project Lead in Toronto. Growing up he faced bullying due to his weight and struggles with learning English. This was later compounded when he realized he was gay.
Mental health and sexuality were taboo in his Chinese immigrant family, leaving him without guidance. Limited opportunities to connect with the queer community in a suburban area led to higher risk decisions about dating and sex.
Moving to downtown Toronto for grad school brought transformation. Through school, online communities, and gay sports leagues, Mikey found a supportive group to openly discuss being gay, dating, and relationships. Access to resources like ACT’s Totally outRIGHT program empowered him. Challenges persisted with racial biases on dating apps, but Mikey values progress and ongoing education within the LGBTQ+ community.
“Owning My Crown” means celebrating and supporting the community, embracing his culture, and standing together to be stronger and prouder.
“Embracing my heritage, embracing the authentic me”
Rodrigo, hailing from the town of Ixtepec, Mexico faced discrimination as a gay individual. Despite the challenges, he found solace in a community that shared his experiences. Leaving his hometown at 18, Rodrigo embarked on a journey to live an authentic life, although he grappled with internalized homophobia.
He moved to Puebla, where he entered his first gay relationship, navigating the complexities of love and insecurities stemming from the fear of judgment. After his first love passed away, the trauma triggered him to look for a new life. Driven by professional growth and self queer awareness Rodrigo’s path took him from Puebla to Toronto. He now takes pride in his roots and strives to inspire acceptance and happiness in others.
Through raising awareness about sexual health and accessing resources from The PrEP Clinic, Rodrigo has gained the empowerment needed to lead a healthier sex life. “Owning My Crown” signifies his journey of embracing his true self, confronting fears head-on, and overcoming obstacles with unwavering strength and determination.
“Proudly exploring my sexuality and accepting my roots”
Ali grew up in Dukhan, Qatar where he had to conceal his sexuality for his own safety and endured bullying due to his curvy figure. However, his art teacher became a source of comfort and imparted valuable lessons to him. In 2015, Ali made the life-changing decision to move to Toronto, where he pursued a creative career and entered into a same-sex relationship, triumphing over discrimination and body image struggles.
Through therapy, self-reflection, and embracing self-acceptance, he cultivated a supportive community and explored his sexuality. “Owning My Crown” now symbolizes confidently embracing his cultural roots, values, personality, and vulnerability.
For Ali, it also encompasses breaking free from stigmas, embracing his true self, and living life on his own terms. This includes owning his sexuality and making informed decisions. He understands the power of consent, the importance of regular testing, and the availability of resources. By exploring his desires and embracing his kinks, Ali has found fulfillment and conquered his fears.
“Being true to myself, standing proud and embracing all of me”
Shazad, originally from Calgary, Alberta, now resides in Toronto. Currently studying to become a counselor, Shazad is also a gogo dancer, content creator, and sex worker involved in organizing Rangeela, the world’s largest LGBT Bollywood Event. He feels there is tremendous power in living an authentic life and ruling your own world.
Growing up in Calgary, Shazad faced challenges as a queer individual. They discovered their gay identity at a young age but learned to hide any non-heteronormative or feminine expression due to societal discouragement. Encountering sexual racism within the gay community further intensified their feelings of invisibility and undesirability.
However, a transformative visit to Toronto’s Queer Indian Mela in 2007 inspired Shazad to embrace their true self and ultimately led them to relocate to Toronto. Their involvement with organizations like ASAAP and the creation of Rangeela allowed them to connect with their community and empower other queer individuals. Through their work, Shazad aims to challenge societal norms and provide comprehensive queer sex education for future generations.
Tynomi Banks' Story
“Living my truth and always holding my head up high.”
Tynomi Banks, world-class drag performer and featured on Canada’s Drag Race, has an inspiring journey as a queer individual. Growing up, Tynomi navigated the complexities of her identity, facing societal and cultural pressures and the challenges of self-acceptance.
From a young age, she discovered her passion for performing and found love in the art of drag, allowing her to explore her authentic self and express herself in a vibrant and creative way.
Tynomi’s path to success was not without its hurdles. As a queer individual, she encountered adversity and discrimination, but her resilience and determination fueled her drive to overcome these obstacles. Tynomi has become an empowering role model for the LGBTQ+ community, demonstrating the power of embracing one’s true identity and celebrating individuality.
Her journey serves as a testament to the importance of self-love, acceptance, and the limitless possibilities that arise when we embrace who we are with pride and authenticity.