LGBTQ Activist and Global Health Enthusiast, Nathan Gibson

This boy has a magnetic personality that is hard to ignore. Nathan is very passionate about student activism within the University of Toronto community.

Name: Nathan Gibson

Year: First

Program: Life Science

Focus: Neuroscience or Global Health

College: Woodsworth

Relationship Status: Single and ready to mingle

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Intended Career Path and why?

This is a tough question; there are so many things I feel passionate about.

I love working with the elderly and I believe that, although it’s amazing how long people are living these days, that if you’re going to live that long, you should be able to enjoy it. This is why I’m interested in researching neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimers, so that people can have their mental faculties until the end.

I’m also very passionate about ensuring that everyone has equal access to health care and mental health services. I’ve been volunteering with a youth support line for quite some time and I’ve come to realize that despite Canada’s free health care system, many people do not have access to the services they need; especially people from marginalized communities.

If all else fails, I want to become a family counsellor. I grew up in the most amazing, loving and accepting family, but we still had our ups and downs. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have my family to support me in everything I do and to be there when I need them, no matter what. I think it’s extremely important that everyone has this sort of experience, and I’d like to help people overcome their familial issues so that that could be plausible.

If you had to describe yourself in third-person what would you say about yourself?

I am a vivacious, enthusiastic, open, approachable, excitable, accepting and a loyal friend.

I am someone who some people see as an altruist, but I do get something from giving back to the community. I like the feeling of knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of other peoples. I do seem like an extreme extrovert, but I do secretly get anxious in unfamiliar social situations.

Something unique about yourself?

I could live the rest of my life just eating sushi. I have an hour-long bath every night. I have an obsession with white wine and dating.

What do you like to do on you spare time?

Volunteering around Toronto, spending a night out with friends, going on blind dates, or cooking a romantic meal at home while dancing to Katy Perry and then eating it later by myself in the bath with a bath bomb from Lush.

How are you involved within the UofT community?

I volunteer for LGBTOUT and will be the Drop-In Center Director in the coming year. I also volunteer at the U of T Sexual Education Center and now I’m going to be on the Board of Directors for the UTSU.

What makes you passionate about Sexuality and LGBTQ issues?

I joined an organization where I’ve gotten to learn about and speak to people who experienced a lot of adversity surrounding their sexuality. I grew up in an extremely accepting and amazing family and I can’t even begin to imagine how awful it must be to feel like a failure or a disappointment to your parents. The fact that some people can’t be happy simply because of their sexuality makes me so sad and drives me to change the world and make sure that in the meantime, everyone has someone to talk to and everyone feels supported and loved.

Besides the problems (discrimination, intolerance, tolerance rather than full acceptance) that the  LGBTQ community faces, what are some human characteristics that you feel society often misses out on when it is too busy judging this community?

Gay men in particular can very often be tokenized and seen as a sassy, incompetent floozy, which makes people not expect much from us. They see us as lesser and assume things about us. I remember one time at a gay meet n’ greet and we were sitting in a circle getting to know each other and guessing each other’s majors. Most people were guessing History, English etc and were mostly right or close. When they came to me, a bunch of them laughed and one guy said “well you’re obviously into fashion.” I am the least fashionable person I have ever met. Just because I’m a ‘feminine’ gay guy doesn’t mean I can’t work hard and that all I care about is aesthetic appearance. If these kinds of assumptions are so common among the gay community, just imagine how bad they get when maximized to the general public.

A big thing for me, now that I’m looking into professional internships etc. is gender expression and how that plays out in the working world. If I show up to an interview in more 'feminine’ or ‘gay’ attire; it is unlikely that the interviewer will take me seriously and will be too focused on my appearance rather than the experience I have to offer. This is extremely prevalent in the case of trans-people for whom the unemployment rate is much higher than the general population.

There is this constant fight for rights, respect and acceptance that the LGBTQ community is always fighting for in order to live comfortably within society. Do you ever think that one day society will accept all sexualities and sexual orientations?

I’m optimistic that society will be accepting in a while. These things take time, but there have been so many successful movements when it comes to marginalized groups in the last century, I’m sure that the trend will continue in the positive direction. I think that although society as a whole will learn to be accepting, there will still be people who disagree, haters if you will, but there’s nothing we can do about them.

I think the goal we should aim for now is the time when people don’t feel the need to ‘come out.’ Heteronormativity should be a thing of the past and people should just ask “hey, what’s your sexuality” not “yo, you gay?” if they’re going to ask at all.