Sept. 16, 2021Print | PDF
Tin Vo, who is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, has been awarded the Hilary M. Weston Scholarship by the Government of Ontario. The scholarship will support Vo’s research about the inclusion and safety of individuals with intersectional identities in 2SLGBTQ+ leisure spaces.
The Hilary M. Weston Scholarship, established in honour of the province’s 26th lieutenant governor, is awarded annually to two Ontario graduate-level social work students in the area of mental health. Vo received $7,500 toward his studies. He is the fifth Laurier student to win a Hilary M. Weston Scholarship in the past five years.
“This is a highly esteemed scholarship and Tin deserves many congratulations,” says Professor Michael Woodford, Vo’s supervisor. “His research is groundbreaking and will promote the well-being and inclusion of racialized and trans individuals in queer community centres and other 2SLGBTQ+ leisure spaces.”
“I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and appreciation to know that the work I am doing has been recognized by others,” says Vo. “Knowing that others see the importance of my efforts is rewarding and fuels me to continue my journey.”
Vo’s research focuses on racism and transphobia within 2SLGBTQ+ gathering places such as rainbow centres, queer running groups, choirs and sports clubs. In 2018, he published a study in the journal Leisure Sciences about the experiences of Asian-Canadian and Asian-American men on a gay cruise. More recently, as part of his dissertation research Vo conducted an online survey of 550 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and is examining how people with intersectional identities can feel marginalized, even within what are considered to be “safe” spaces.
“The survey findings demonstrate how discrimination impacts social well-being, which is a core aspect of positive mental health,” says Vo. “The presence of anti-discrimination policies and inclusive institutional leadership practices seem to buffer or reduce the impact of intersectional discrimination on diverse 2SLGBTQ+ people.”
The Hilary M. Weston Scholarship will support Vo in his final phase of data collection, which will involve one-on-one interviews with diverse 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.
“While my study was not initially intended to examine the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings thus far show how people have navigated their leisure experiences during this time and that they need virtual and physical 2SLGBTQ+ gathering spaces to relieve stress,” says Vo. “Some study participants entered a ‘cocoon’ state where they hope to emerge with a new, more resilient and optimistic sense of self. For these individuals, the meaning of 2SLGBTQ+ leisure spaces has shifted beyond just finding community to becoming a place of support, learning, finding oneself and, for some, survival.”