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Ian Bradley-Perrin: ‘You can’t wait for someone else to correct the wrong in the world’

The coordinator of Concordia's HIV/AIDS Community Lecture Series wins international acclaim
November 26, 2014
By Sara DuBreuil

Youth power: Ian Bradley-Perrin with a volunteer from AIDS Community Care Montreal. | Photos courtesy of Bradley-Perrin

The coordinator of Concordia’s Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS, Ian Bradley-Perrin, has made the POZ 100, an annual list of leaders who are taking a stand against the disease.

POZ magazine, an award-winning print and online publication, aimed at people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, has been compiling its list of leading activists for the past five years. This year, POZ decided to focus on “youth power” — people under the age of the 30 who have demonstrated their commitment to the struggle against the disease.

Bradley-Perrin says it's an honour to be chosen alongside so many accomplished young people from around the world. “The people who run the magazine are of a generation who have done such important work. It’s touching to be well-regarded by them.” 

The 25-year-old Masters student in Concordia’s Department of History has an impressive resumé. On top of coordinating the lecture series, Bradley-Perrin organizes the Plus ou Moins HIV/AIDS conferences in Montreal. He has also hosted an art workshop about HIV criminalization, and designed a poster with artist Vincent Chevalier for an AIDS Action Now project.

Ian Bradley-Perrin and Ryan Conrad protesting for the release of Tarek Loubani and John Greyson from prison in Egypt Ian Bradley-Perrin and Ryan Conrad protesting for the release of Tarek Loubani and John Greyson from prison in Egypt.

The poster, “Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me,” which challenges the HIV/AIDS narrative, is something Bradley-Perrin is particularly proud of. It received mixed reactions, and sparked heated conversations about the way different generations talk about HIV/AIDS, but Bradley-Perrin welcomed the criticisms. “I wanted a reaction. It was a conversation that needed to happen but hadn’t happened yet. I think it was productive in that sense.”

Bradley-Perrin first became interested in HIV/AIDS activism as a way to find a place for himself within the LGBTQ community. When he tested positive for HIV, his interest deepened and took on a new character, becoming something that not only mattered to him on a community level but also on an individual and personal one.

“It’s semi-therapeutic to explore it intellectually and academically,” says Bradley-Perrin. “Similar to what some artists experience when they get on a topic, it sort of obsessed me in certain ways.”

His interactions with the healthcare system helped shape his interests and activism. He’s seen first-hand the inequalities some populations continue to face in the HIV/AIDS community and how, often, the people who need healthcare the most are those who don’t have access to it.

“It took years of being embedded in the community in that very specific way of being positive and being able to speak to people on that level,” he says. It’s also why it’s so important for him to include community in his work with Concordia’s HIV/AIDS Project. “On campus we teach about community work, but if you don't bring community into those conversations, it feels a little hollow.”

The primary goal of the HIV/AIDS Project is to create a space for interdisciplinary conversations about HIV/AIDS today through a class offered at Concordia, internships and the lecture series.

Bradley-Perrin says the public talks were important to him when he first came to Concordia six years ago. He applied for the coordinator job two years later but didn’t get it, which in retrospect, he says was for the best.

Another two years went by, and when the former coordinator abruptly left the post, he applied again. “I was so eager. It was one of those fortuitous moments of things coming together in a perfect way."

Making the POZ 100 list comes at another “fortuitous moment” for Bradley-Perrin. On November 27, Sean Strub — the founder of POZ Magazine — is giving the final lecture of the term.

While honoured to make the illustrious list so young, Bradley-Perrin says he has much more to accomplish. This week, he’s part of a panel discussion and is working on a “super-secret” World AIDS Day intervention. In the long term, he’s applying to joint PhD and law programs, plans to work abroad and ultimately hopes to teach — all the while remaining an HIV/AIDS activist.

“I’m not sure I know how to do anything else,” he says. “If you see wrong in the world, you can’t wait for someone else to correct it. It has to be you who goes out and says, ‘What can I do about this?’”

Concordia’s HIV/AIDS Project has launched a crowdfunding campaign — donate here.

Learn more about the Lecture Series.

For more info on Bradley-Perrin’s upcoming panel discussion.

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