The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance champions the health and wellbeing of our communities.
We lead in developing sexual health promotion resources and work with HIV service organizations and other service providers in Ontario to ensure gay men have the information, supports, and services they need to have the sex they want.
Our mission is to improve the quality of sexual healthcare for all gay men in Ontario. We do this by working with HIV service organizations, researchers, and front-line healthcare providers to increase their capacity and keep them up-to-date with the latest science and best practices. We also produce resources and campaigns to educate guys in community directly, equipping them with the knowledge to take the best care of themselves.
All gay, bisexual, queer, two-spirit, and other men who have sex with men in Ontario should have easy, accurate, and supportive sexual healthcare where and when we need it.
All of our communities should be free of new HIV transmission, empower those living with HIV, and be affirming of our full sexual and emotional lives. Our communities should be free of stigma, violence, discrimination, and hate.
So which is it—Gay or Queer or GBMSM or 2SGBTQ+ or…?
The language we use in our work is fluid and generally aims to be the most appropriate words for the specific audience for each project. You’ll see different terms or acronyms used throughout our work, but we typically use “gay men” as an imperfect short-hand.
Overall, our work covers all men who have sex with other men. That includes both cis- and trans men, transmasculine non-binary folks, Two Spirit people, and sometimes trans women who have experiences within or connection to gay men’s spaces. We’re welcoming in our work, but acknowledge that there is an eventual limit to our expertise.
“GMSH has kept the dialogues around gay sex – and its importance to our health – a central narrative in the HIV response and in healthcare. It’s so easy for medical services, public health and researchers to overlook our (gay) sex or pathologize it. Instead, GMSH does the important work of celebrating our sex as a vital part of the ways we connect – as a community and as individuals.”
"Cutting-edge, community-based, and constantly evolving, GMSH has been an integral part of the fabric for the health and well-being in communities of self-identified cis and trans gay, bi, queer (GBQ) men and gender diverse people in Ontario. GMSH programs and services are guided by a wellness model, through support and advocacy; harm reduction, prevention and education; and partnerships with others. It is a vital force to actively address the risk factors that contribute to the transmission of HIV/AIDS, HCV and other bloodborne diseases; and ensure that GBQ individuals can lead long healthy lives."
"As a community-engaged researcher focused on gay, bi, and queer guy's health and wellness, GMSH has been integral to the work we do in our research lab, the CRUISElab. GMSH works with our students, trainees and multiple community stakeholders to help integrate and disseminate the research work we do to ensure it has a stronger impact on gay bi and queer guys in Ontario. They provide important and creative learning and networking opportunities to connect researchers, community members, policy makers and health and service providers."
A sex positive approach for over 20 years.
In 2010 the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) moved from being an advisory body to the AIDS Bureau, Ontario Ministry of Health to a self-generated Alliance housed within the Ontario AIDS Network. With funding from the AIDS Bureau, the GMSH has continued to evolve and is now recognized as a community-led provincial hub of learning, capacity building, and resource/campaign development to address the HIV and sexual health-related needs of gay men.
The broader GMSH network helps to build community ownership, leadership, and involvement in strategic planning across the HIV sector. Our Alliance of queer men’s program and outreach staff work together with us to create consistent, evidence-based, and skilled responses.
The GMSH now also represents one of the Priority Population Networks designated by the AIDS Bureau (along with WHAI—the Women & HIV/AIDS Initiative—and ACCHO—the African Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario) as a strategy to achieve the goals in the provincial HIV/AIDS strategy to 2026.
We share a home with the Ontario AIDS Network and maintain a small and talented team in Toronto.
How We Work
We strive to raise the bar on health promotion work across the sector and for gay men around Ontario. Everything we produce has to work—for service providers, for researchers and policymakers, and for guys in the community—and reflect our values.
Gay Is Good
Queerness is something to celebrate—whether you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, heteroflexible, trans, non-binary, genderqueer, agender, intersex, or questioning all of it. Living life honestly and authentically outside of a narrow gender or sexuality box is a good thing.
In the face of those who try to discriminate, shame, stigmatize, and criminalize us—our love, our bodies, our lives, and our sex—it is good to be gay.
No shame in sex. Our work celebrates and empowers people in our community to take pride in the sex they’re having and to make sure they’re having the sex they want. When we strip away the stigma around gay sex and desire, we can have open and honest discussions of what we want, what we need, and what’s getting in the way.
Rooted in Evidence
Everything we do is based on the most recent and reliable scientific data. Research on HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens is constantly changing, and our work must keep pace to reflect that learning. Sexual health care across Ontario should be based on accurate and relevant information, incorporating best practices for testing, treatment, and prevention from around the world.
Connected to Community
For our work to be valuable to gay men across the province, they need to be connected to it from the outset. Our projects engage community members in the conception, oversight, and creation of our resources and trainings. This includes people living with HIV, trans men and non-binary people, Black, brown, and other racialized men, Indigenous and two-spirit people, gay men who use drugs, and people with disabilities.
There is no singular gay, queer, or trans experience, just like there’s no singular way to find pleasure in sex. It’s important to us to hold space for all of the different perspectives and experiences within our communities and to make space for them in our work.
The issues in our community can sometimes be tense or hard to talk about. Fostering open and honest discussions on topics like sex, drugs, and racism can help us all do better in the end. In our work, we try to have real conversations about real issues affecting gay men.
None of us are free until we are all free. The struggle against homophobia and transphobia is linked with the struggles against racism, ableism, ageism, misogyny, HIV stigma, exploitation, colonialism, white supremacy, antisemitism, islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, discrimination, and violence. Our work in serving the community should be reflective of this, in the same way as people in our communities live these experiences as well.