Growing up as a queer Latinx individual in Calgary, Jordan had a difficult time finding a community that would accept them for who they were. Their family did not accept their identity, resulting Jordan living in fear of who they were for most of their adolescent years. Simultaneously, the stigma surrounding HIV and queer people led Jordan to believe that they were “destined to die of HIV with no one around to support them”. It was during that time that Jordan found their passion for the arts and the vast amount of queer people who expressed their identity through creative outlets.
Jordan’s work in the arts led them to working with HIV Community Link’s HEAT program for gay, bi, and men who have sex with men (MSM). As members of the Calgary Police Service’s gender and sexual diversity board, Jordan and HEAT have built a relationship based on a mutual goal: reducing barriers to HIV education across the city’s queer community. HEAT’s HIV core training was particularly impactful for Jordan, as it further informed them of the new innovations around HIV treatment, as well as the persistence of the disease’s impact today.
Jordan has now been working in Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ arts community for over 30 years, aiming to bring more visibility to BIPOC queer individuals in their work. They believe that the greatest challenge to HIV education is that the “barriers are greater than the accessibility to the resources.” Creating safer spaces to access this information, especially for more vulnerable populations with intersectional identities, are critical to creating more inclusivity. Without programs like HEAT, addressing these challenges would be nearly impossible.