A new service with the aim of keeping LGBTI people safe while navigating the complicated world of online dating has been launched in the Canadian City of Toronto.
Launched by Haran Vijayanathan who is the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto, Vijayanathan said that prior to coming out as gay he would often not tell anyone when he was going out to meet another man because of shame and embarrassment.
“So sometimes I put myself in situations that could have ended up in a very bad way because I had no one to tell,” he said.
Aiming to help those in a similar situation, his new organisation, called the SAFE program, is launching a new service to help people who don’t feel comfortable telling their friends and family where they’re going.
The new service will allow people to discreetly provide information to ASAP so that they can inform the police if a person goes missing.
“What we realized after this whole incident with Bruce McArthur and the missing men who were South Asian and Middle Eastern is not everybody has that friend or family member,” Vijayanathan explained.
Some of the men who were allegedly killed by McArthur weren’t out to their families about their sexuality.
Despite ASAAP being an organisation primarily focusing on supporting South Asian and Middle Eastern LGBTI people, Vijayanathan adds that the program is open to anyone who might find it useful.
“If we’re doing it for us already, we might as well just open up to everybody who needs the service and that support,” Vijayanathan says.
“This might have been something that I would have used when I was coming out of the closet as a stepping stone until I gained the skills to have those conversations with friends,” he says.
Vijayanathan hopes that the SAFE program will help keep people safe in the wake of the serial murders.
“We’ve gone through the bathhouse raid, we’ve gone through the HIV epidemic, we’ve gone through all of these crises situations, and we’ve always come together and found creative solutions to these problems.”