Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lookout marks 40 years in Downtown Eastside

The Lookout Emergency Aid Society has operated in the Downtown Eastside for 40 years.

During one of her first volunteer shifts at Lookout Emergency Aid Society 40 years ago, Karen O’Shannacery, then a 20-year-old, found a man dead in a garbage bin. He’d presumably crawled in to warm up at a time when Vancouver had only one shelter, operating in the Downtown Eastside, with 15 beds.

Street homelessness was even more visible then, says O’Shannacery, now executive director of Lookout. “We did find people who were dead in the street.”

The average homeless person in 1971 was a 65-year old alcoholic man. Those into drugs used heroin. Today, the average homeless person in Metro Vancouver is aged 32 to 35 and suffers with a mental illness, drug addiction, or both. Three-quarters are men. “I can’t tell you last time I met somebody who was addicted to heroin,” O’Shannacery said. “Now, almost everybody is a poly-drug user and it’s far more challenging.”

The founders of the non-profit charitable Lookout in 1971 thought they’d “cure” homelessness in 10 years. Four decades later, the number of turn-aways at their shelter is rising. But services have improved, lives have been saved and formerly homeless people have become healthy members of society, O’Shannacery said.

Services are no longer solely centered in the Downtown Eastside. Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to end street homelessness by 2015, and the provincial government is helping construct social housing on 14 city-owned sites, although the number of units to be built doesn’t make up for lowest cost housing stock that’s been lost. Lookout celebrates its 40th anniversary Aug. 27 with a party in Oppenheimer Park. The mayor has proclaimed it “Lookout’s solutions to homelessness day.”
The day includes music, food, games, the opportunity to donate clothes and a dunk tank. “I’ve been told that there’s a whole whack of people who are lined up to get me wet,” O-Shannacery said.

Lookout provides non-judgmental services to more than 9,200 people a year who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It runs an emergency shelter that operates 24 hours, seven days a week, and offers basic outreach services that include showers and laundry, connections to mental health and addiction services and a drop-in activity space for people with serious mental illnesses. Lookout provides 625 units of transitional and permanent housing, including 37 units in Mount Pleasant. The non-profit also provides job training.
O’Shannacery laughed when asked how homelessness could be solved. She said the solution lies in long-term commitments of federal money, political will and collaboration. “It’s not rocket science,” she said. “We know that people who are homeless need housing and we know that a great many of them need support because we know the principle characteristics that they’re challenged with. But those services are few and far between. That housing is few and far between, and there’s certainly not enough. We know the answers. We just have to invest the resources.” The Lookout celebration runs from noon to 4 p.m.

Read more:

AUGUST 25, 2011 11:25 AM ET
Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper
Steve Thorne/Redferns)
Cyndi Lauper is set to open a 30-bed housing facility for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth in Manhattan on September 1st. The True Colors Residence, named after her 1986 hit "True Colors," will be located on West 154th St. near Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Harlem. The residence, the first permanent housing facility of its kind in the city, was conceived by the singer, her manager and the West End Intergenerational Residence, a non-profit focused on providing housing for homeless families and the elderly.

Lauper, a longtime supporter for LGBT rights, was moved to pursue this project because up to 40 percent of homeless youth in the city identify as LGBT. "These young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault in some of the very places they have to go for help," she wrote in a letter seeking donations for the residence. "This is shocking and inexcusable!"

Photos: Random Notes
The True Colors Residence is a new energy-efficient building with 30 studio apartments for youths aged 18 to 24, complete with indoor and outdoor community space. Residents will pay rent based on their income and will receive help with job placement.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Studio - The View From Here

Please join us in celebrating the launch of
From Here
A compilation book by writers of the
Downtown Eastside Studio Society workshops.
Wednesday, August 31st from 7 to 10pm
at Nelson the Seagull, 315 Carrall St.
Free for workshop participants, by donation
for everyone else.
Wine, snacks, music, and readings from the book!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the latest from HIM

HIM news
August 2011
Dear Hustle,

In This Issue:
 HIM on the Drive,
Square Dancing and  
Discover HIM on the Drive
Need to be tested for an STI or HIV...?

... do you live and/or hang out on the East Side? you ride or have access to Skytrain?

Gay men now have another testing option in East Vancouver. The Health Initiative for Men partnering with the STOP HIV outreach team from Vancouver Coastal Health are pleased to announce the opening of HIM on the Drive, a sexual health centre for gay men on Monday, August 15th at 4 p.m.

We are located at 1723 Grant Street, in the Chelsea Cottage (corner of Commercial Drive and Grant St.). Our regular hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.

We offer -
Rapid HIV testing: Finger prick test
  • Test detects antibodies 3 months after risky event - get your results in a minute
Early HIV testing: Blood sample
  • Test detects virus 10-12 days after risky event - get your results in 1 week
Standard HIV testing: Blood sample
  • Test detects antibodies 3 months after risky event - get your results in 1 week
All other STI testing

We also offer a full range of information on STI and HIV transmission.

A registered nurse is available to answer any of your sexual health questions.
Come check us out Monday through Thursday from 4 PM to 8 PM. Walk-ins are welcome, or call for an appointment  

For more information, please contact HIM at (604) 488-1001, or the HIM on the Drive Clinic Manager at
HIM of the Drive testing 
 You R what U Eat    

Good nutritional tips for gay guys.  

This 2-part interactive workshop will answer all those confusing questions about what and when to eat for a healthy, balanced life. Bring all your food questions to our nutritional expert, Gerry Kasten (Spectrum Health), who will de-mystify your eating habits and get you to the bottom of your eating conundrum. The first workshop will be information based where our expert will share his nutrition knowledge. Workshop two will be held in a kitchen space where Gerry will demonstrate healthy, quick & easy meal preparation techniques.

WHERE & WHEN:   7 - 9 PM Sept 20
                                HIM Office
                                Info-based with Q & A

        7 - 9 PM Nov 25
        Kitchen Demo
                                Location TBD

 More information available at
Sign up via email at or call 604.488.1001   
It's Hip to be Square - again
Introduction to Square Dancing With Squares Across the Border
Squares Across the Border (Vancouver's long-running LGBT Square Dancing group) invites you to two FREE introduction sessions to square dancing. These sessions are designed for guys ranging from absolute beginners to folks who are used to dancing, but would like to get back into the 'swing.' Fun and laughter is the name of the game, and there's no better way to get some physical exercise, meet amazing new people and get your rhythm back. The organizers describe it as "Friendship set to music!"
WHEN: September 15th & 22nd 2011, 7-9 pm

WHERE:  Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House
 800 East Broadway Vancouver

More information available at 
Sign up via email at or call 604.488.1001.
 Rainbow Cowboys Boots
Literacy Lives
Here's a fabulous opportunity that you or someone you know won't want to miss! 
HIM is now recruiting for a program in Community Capacity Building offered by Simon Fraser University (SFU). Designed with the 'alternative' learner in mind, this course is meant to improve the skills and capabilities of members of the community, with a HIV focus. Running from September to March you'll meet twice a week for three hours.  You'll be in a group of motivated peers improving existing skills and gaining on-the-ground, real-world experience. You'll finish by putting your ideas into action by doing a community project of your choice. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone, perhaps yourself or someone you know, who wants to move their life forward and improve their skills, but is unsure how.

The program is FREE, but space is limited.  If you or a friend can commit for this time period, sign up now! For more information or to get an application, please contact Daniel McGraw (
 Lit Lives
Pride Follow Up
Pride Hottest
Clare Liggett/Creative B'Stro
Despite some ominous clouds in the morning, the Pride Parade and Festival both proved to be one of the hottest in recent memories. We decided to focus our efforts at the festival and it paid off in a big way. With five booths, we were able to showcase the variety of services that HIM provides from each of our areas of health. From fitness classes and condom packs to discussion groups andcounselling, gay men learned more about the opportunities to improve their health and well-being with HIM. 

Our volunteer yoga and fitness instructors generously offered their time to chat with people about fitness goals and myths and the meet n'greet session with volunteer models for our new Vancouver Fabulous photo campaign was very popular. The friendly nurses from the STOP HIV Outreach Team were also on hand to answer all your sexual health questions.

We also took the opportunity to ask the festival goers where they think "It's Hottest..." as a part of the Hottest at the Start campaign about Acute HIV. The responses were posted all over the tent so everyone could get involved with the campaign and take home a few ideas to make their own sex lives hottest. The campaign provides information on Acute HIV infection and the fact that HIV is most infectious in the first few months after exposure - therefore if people are having risky sex, they should be getting tested. These messages are paired with some eye-catching images of gay guys having spontaneous sex. These ads are sure to leave an impression.

Finally, we'd like to thank all of our volunteers who helped set-up and man the booths at the festival. We really couldn't have done it without you guys!
HIM at the VQFF
For 11 days each August, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival comes to town bringing with it the best in queer independent cinema. It's become Vancouver's second largest Film Festival and really caps off summer in a very gay way. More than just movies, the VQFF brings together the community through galas, parties, and discussions from the filmmakers and actors. This year, HIM partnered with the VQFF to bring the Bruce Labruce classic "Hustler White" to a sold out crowd. We also aired our brand new Hottest at the Start video at the start of the movie teaching guys about Acute HIV and asking guys to get tested if they have anal sex without a condom. We hope you get a chance to check it out along with all the other great queer films at the VQFF this summer!


Founded in 2008, the Mission of HIM is to strengthen gay men's health and well-being through trusted, tailored, targeted research-based health promotion services and by engaging the community through volunteer involvement, online access and events. We foster mutually beneficial relationships among gay men and health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes.  We also operate the HIM Sexual Health Centre where gay men can access STI and HIV testing, peer support, and professional counselling services.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Experience in sex work? 'Elements' - our exciting life skills and personal devlopement program is starting August 22nd, 2011. Classes on self-esteeem, boundaries, healthy relationships and more - creative writing, art therapy and outings included. Transportation and honorarium are provided. There are still a few spots left!

Call HUSTLE at 604.684.3032 for more information and to set up an intake :)