McEwan House is a Toronto program of Loft Community Services that is specifically designed to meet the needs of HIV-positive people from a variety of backgrounds who have a number of challenges that can include mental health issues, addictions and being homeless. It provides housing and support services in an effort to help their service users remain independent in the community.
They recently produced a set of videos on the effects of stigma with the clear refrain: “It hurts”. Several of McEwan House’s service users talk about the stigma they have experienced, not just around HIV but also racism, trauma, homophobia and the denial of services which most of us take for granted — a home, a doctor, a birth certificate, a Social Insurance card, an income, and a community of support.
McEwan House’s goal in making these short films was to give some insight into what it feels like to be stigmatized and how much it hurts. The hope is that, after seeing these videos, people will think twice and not add to the hurt, but look past their assumptions to see the real person.
After you have watched the introductory video, Confronting Stigma 1, below, go to the agency’s YouTube page and watch the other four in the series: Confronting Stigma 2, Confronting Stigma 3, J.P.’s Story and Toni’s Story.
While these videos vividly show the impact of stigma, the individuals who are telling their stories have a resilience and strength that is inspiring.