Using community to learn about love, sex and health in a pandemic

The first Silhouette issue I remember picking up was the 2018 Sex and the Steel City issue. It started off so normal, but by the time I flipped to the sex toy guide, I recall being rather alarmed, maybe a tad embarrassed. I put the paper back on the stand.

A year later, I was contributing to Sex and the Steel City as the Arts and Culture Reporter. I started to understand how this issue provides an important space for our community to talk about the taboo, the messy and the private. But I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the conversation.

Now it’s two years after that. When I first took on the job that involves planning this issue, I still didn’t feel like I had much to add to this conversation. I wasn’t sure how to plan an issue on topics I am still exploring and learning about.

So I decided to do what I do whenever I write for the Sil: I listened. I have been a student of the dozens of thoughtful interviewees that have taught me about everything from magic to gentrification. So I turned to this community to teach me about love, sex and health.

So I decided to do what I do whenever I write for the Sil: I listened. I have been a student of the dozens of thoughtful interviewees that have taught me about everything from magic to gentrification. So I turned to this community to teach me about love, sex and health.

Over the past few weeks, the most personal stories and intimate art landed in my inbox. Strangers gave me permission to probe their pasts and tinker with their life texts.

So I want to thank every single person who reached out to me about this issue, to everyone who filmed and created and wrote this anthology on the taboo, the messy and the private. I am honoured that my part of the Sil’s legacy is all of your lessons on love.

I never realized how much of a community-based project Sex and the Steel City is until this year. Writing for a newspaper can be very isolating and doing so in a pandemic even more so, but this issue has reminded me of the community that the Sil has formed.

I think COVID-19 has made this issue all the more urgent. This pandemic has upended relationships, cancelled sex lives and wreaked havoc on our collective health. But it has also highlighted the importance of these things. We crave connection perhaps more than we ever have.

So in this year’s Sex and the Steel City, we have sought to tell stories of connection. Not just stories of romantic relationships, but also stories of the relationships with our family members, our friends and ourselves. I hope you know that you’re part of a community that loves and looks forward to this issue, be it your first Sex and the Steel City or your millionth.

Through this community, I have sought to expand my worldview. I’ll be the first to admit that there are representations lacking in this issue, that there are stories left to tell that I hope I’ll read in future issues of Sex and the Steel City.

But my goal was to make sure that you, dear reader, identified with just one word or just one image in this issue, so that you know that this is a conversation that you are a part of, a conversation that I welcome you to add to. More than anything, I hope you learn something.

Table of Contents:

The impact of COVID-19 on Hamilton sex workers by Rya Buckley

University-level dating during the pandemic by Adrian Salopek

Editorial

Relationship wars: who needs a boyfriend when you have a sister? by Nina Sartor

Humans of McMaster: Morghen Jael by Esther Liu

What does it mean to be a man? by Sarah Lopes Sadafi

Sil Time Capsule: Students on the importance of sex education by Nisha Gill

Coming out as nonbinary by Fran O’Donnell

Self-acceptance takes time by Samantha McBride

The stories close to our hearts by Nisha Gill

Eight queer, sex-positive accounts to follow on Instagram by Subin Park

Art featured from various artists

Food Flavoured Love, a poem by Serena Habib

Eight cozy virtual date ideas by Tracy Huynh

Thoughts from an Indian emigrant on arranged marriages by Sharang Sharma

Lessons from my sister: kaleidoscope of love by Niko Haloulos

Humanity Switch? I wish. by Serena Habib

Sil Sit Down with Dr. Iman Benerji by Urszula Sitarz

Finding Comfort in the Little Things by Nisha Gill

Define your own beauty by Krishihan Sivapragasam

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