This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Daroya E, Gaspar M, Grey C, Lessard D, Klassen B, Skakoon-Sparling S, Sinno J, Adam B, Perez-Brumer A, Lachowsky NJ, Sang JM, Hart TA, Cox J, Tan DHS, Grace D. “It’s different for heterosexuals”: exploring cis-heteronormativity in COVID-19 public health directives and its impacts on Canadian gay, bisexual, and queer men. Critical Public Health. 2023 Jun 28:1-1. doi-

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-funded study, published in Critical Public Health, reported that COVID-19 public health interventions based on cis-heteronormativeRefers to the assumption that heterosexuality and being cisgender (a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth) are the norm, which furthers the marginalization of queer and gender diverse people. socialityLiving together in an organized way as a society. negatively affected the sense of belonging and identity formation of gay, bisexual, and queer men (GBQM) in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The study was led by Dr. Daniel Grace (University of Toronto) in collaboration with Dr. Nathan Lachowsky (University of Victoria).

The study examined the accounts of gay, bisexual, and queer men (GBQM) in Canada on how normative ideologies played out in COVID-19 directives and what impacts stay-at-home orders had on their lives.

Key findings:

  • Participants explained how cis-heteronormativity was prevalent in COVID-19 public health messaging, noting that stay-at-home orders and limits on social gatherings reinforced heterosexual forms of kinship.
  • Participants highlighted that the privileging of cis-heteronormative sociality had detrimental effects on their sense of belonging and identity formation, with restricted access to queer spaces during the pandemic leading to their loss of community connections.
  • Participants mentioned that stay-at-home orders failed to account for the heterogeneity of queer people’s experiences of homelessness and structural racism, presuming that people could shelter inside and do so safely.

Two rounds of semi-structured interviews with 93 gay, bisexual, and queer men (GBQM) in Montreal (n = 30), Toronto (n = 33), and Vancouver (n = 30) were conducted from November 2020 to February 2021 and from June to October 2021.

Researchers suggested that these findings provide valuable insights into how public health efforts to control COVID-19 infections have overlooked the complex forms of kinship among GBQM, the importance of queer spaces and community organizations, and the varying vulnerabilities of diverse two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (2SLGBTQ+) groups.