Along with health, sexuality and gender are two key themes that I explore in most of my research, whether it’s with people in sex work or community-based work with Indigenous youth. Who we love or lust and how we identify shapes our everyday lives, and we have so many beautiful, complex things to learn about human beings and life by studying sexuality and gender.
I haven’t undertaken a specific study about sexuality and gender, but they flow through my research in many ways, including my sex work, HIV, and Indigenous projects.
I have been fortunate to have passionate graduate students to work with in my career, many of whom share my interest in sexuality and gender. Mentoring them enables me to learn more about different aspects of these issues, including that which relates to the experiences of people with physical and intellectual disabilities.
I often use this research in my courses and have been proud to stand alongside my students as they push back against negative, often infantilizing stereotypes about intimacy, relationships, and gendered experiences among people with disabilities (See CV for specific articles).
Another population I have worked extensively with in this area of my research is gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM describes men who enjoy sex with other men but who do not identify as gay, which reveals the fluidity of sexuality as well as gender. Much of my work with gay men overlaps with my HIV-related research, including the body mapping project that involved five gay men living in London, Ontario (and six women in Vancouver).
Some of this research was led by me, but most involved collaborations with colleagues in Vancouver, BC. This includes the cutting-edge publications we authored about the role of semen in the lives of HIV-positive and HIV-negative gay men, along with the role of body hygiene in preparation for sex among these populations.
My formative independent research has been conducted with young people, including my Master’s with Indigenous youth living in northern Quebec and my Ph.D. with young women and girls in sex work in rural South India. In both of these projects sexuality and gender emerged as key determinants of physical health, pleasure, and risks to both their personal well-being as well as their emotional health.
These topics also had profound impacts on how youth oriented themselves within their families, social groups, and communities. Finding safe spaces to discuss sexuality, gender, and relationships was a challenge for both sets of participants.
Many of my students and colleagues have undertaken research about sexuality and gender with youth, and I’ve been lucky to tag along! These projects have involved youth who have different abilities, teenage mothers living in inner-city neighbourhoods, street-based young people, and Indigenous youth. I have published widely on these issues in journals and book chapters.
Here are some of the most recent projects I’ve been working on:
- Orchard, T. (2019). Sexting, an invited contribution to The Encyclopedia of Sexuality and Gender, Editor-in-Chief Amy Lykins, Section Editor Roberto Refinetti. Switzerland: Springer Press. In press.
- Orchard, T. (2019). Dating Apps, an invited contribution to The Encyclopedia of Sexuality and Gender, Editor-in-Chief Amy Lykins, Section Editor Roberto Refinetti. Switzerland: Springer Press. In Press.
- East, L & Orchard, T. (2013). ‘Why can’t I?’: An exploration of sexuality and identity among Canadian youth living with physical disabilities, Journal of Youth Studies, 17(5): 559-576
- Schilder, A., Orchard, T., Buchner, C., Strathdee, S. & and Hogg, R. (2010). Insert Discourse: Rectal Douching Among Young HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative Gay Men in Vancouver, Canada. Sexuality & Culture, 14(4): 327-343.