"By better fostering community connection and belonging, we can increase the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth," says Emily Comeau, a Catharine Parr Traill College student pursuing her Master’s of Psychology at Trent University.
Emily shares that, as a lesbian, her personal experience and years of active involvement in the LGBTQ+ community have given her the determination and passion to see this area of research expand and to create positive spaces for others.
Under the mentorship Trent's Dr. Karen Blair, an esteemed researcher and director of the Trent Social Relations, Attitudes, and Diversity Lab, as well as the chair of the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Issues (SOGII) Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), Emily's groundbreaking work strives to improve the well-being of folks in the queer community here at home in Canada and beyond.
Emily's journey as a student researcher at Trent has been marked by incredible growth and support, emphasizing the importance of higher education investing in this area of research.
"It's important for Trent to invest in LGBTQ+ research because, for so long, we've been left out or considered an afterthought," says Emily. “I think by better understanding community connection and the positives and negatives for LGBTQ+ people, we can see where the weak points are and have specific programs or education around those groups so that they can better be supported and understood.”
With the backing of Professor Blair, Emily has had numerous opportunities to conduct impactful research and pursue her academic endeavors. Together, they strive to bridge the gaps in research, particularly among femme individuals, to create targeted programs and educational initiatives that foster support and appreciation.
Reflecting on her choice to study at Trent, Emily shares, "Trent is a really safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals. It allows students to explore their passions, including LGBTQ+ research." The University's commitment to inclusivity has provided her with the ideal environment to thrive and make a difference. Emily shares that opportunities to collaborate with leading experts, like Dr. Ashley Hoskin, who specializes in the study of femmephobia, has expanded her knowledge and understanding of important intersections, offering valuable insights for her continued research.
Sharing research at a national conference
Emily possesses a strong vision for the future of community research, driven by her unwavering dedication to enhancing positive community connections and addressing the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Her excitement grows as she prepares to present her research on the significance of LGBTQ+ identity during the COVID-19 pandemic at the CPA’s annual Preaching to the Choir Conference. This opportunity to engage with a different audience fills her with enthusiasm as she embraces the chance to try something new.
This project represents a significant milestone in Emily's academic journey, allowing her to venture into qualitative research, delve into the experiences of individuals, and share her findings with a wider audience beyond the scope of her previous undergraduate work. Her commitment to the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community through fostering community connections shines brightly. Collaborating with esteemed researchers and drawing from her own lived experiences, she pushes her research forward, inspiring change and contributing to the creation of a more inclusive society.