What do you mean by research?

Research can be a scary word. Stripped down, research simply means observing or investigating phenomena and trying to understand or theorize it’s meaning.

We do this constantly in our own lives. But in the social sciences, research usually involves gathering or capturing some sort of data so that one’s search for understanding can be limited to a particular set of isolated phenomena. It’s too much to attempt to theorize the meaning of social interactions when there’s too many factors at play. Gathering a data set allows researchers to focus their efforts, relying on other scholars to expand on or disprove their conclusions through their own research.

Data can look like a lot of things. It can be numbers and survey results, but it can also be stories and emotions spoken or expressed through word, poetry, art, music, etc. Research that uses these unquantifiable data sets is often called qualitative research.

To me, the value of good qualitative research is when communities consent to have the truths and knowledges already floating amongst them caught* and used to liberate those communities from the assumptions placed upon them. These liberating knowledges can then be made available to others who might find their own liberation in them.

Community-based research (CBR)?

Check out Community Based Research Canada or the Centre for Community Based Research for more information!

It must be noted that the term ‘research’ likely conjures images of being studied like a lab rat or experiences of having some stranger wander into a community unknown to them with a legal pad, quietly scribble notes, and then disappear - never to be heard from again. But the field of social science research is diverse.

Community-based research (CBR) is a field of research that attempts to avoid these lab-rat experiences. The Centre for Community Based Research explains that CBR strives to be community-driven, participatory, and action-oriented.

The limitations of a one-year Masters meant that the Queerly Faithful Project was not a true CBR**. However, these principles did guide the design:

community driven

the topic of the study (experiences of belonging and identity in faith communities) was practically relevant to the research participants’ lives;


the participants had an active role in shaping the direction, themes, and structure of the project;


both the process and results of the study were aimed at building community and cultivating social equity for LGBTQ+ people of faith.

CBR allows research to be done by us and for us, and attempts to create an equitable environment where the findings/results of the research directly benefit the community at the heart of the study. In the case of Queerly Faithful - the zine functions as a tool for activism, a testimony to the existence of LGBTQ+ people of faith, a support for LGBTQ+ writers, and the funds raised serve as investments in the work of organizations and projects (like this website) that work to support LGBTQ+ people of faith.

*This concept of ‘catching stories’ was introduced to be my Dr. Kim Anderson, Cree/Métis scholar & Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University

**In my PhD, I hope to allow control of the project to be more equitably shared amongst the researchers and community members.

I want to be compost

By Eric Van Giessen


There is a moment

characterized by

a two hour mould of my face

on the pillow,

or by

a two kilometre

shuffle in circles

passed the greenery

and tennis balls

when clarity comes


And flees just as suddenly.


Each keystroke becomes

a backwards production—

a furrowed finger dance

marked by

a desperate remembering

of that moment of clarity.



a wonder

at how words error

and devalue walked stories.

And yet, unsaid

too often means unshared:

Can one enrich and destroy

all at once?


I want to be compost.


To gather these sacred stories

and allow their potency

to decay into words

that sew fertile grounds

for justice to bloom

in once barren soil.


The smell of that

earthy blackness, that

nourishing impetus

might just be enough

to mourn on the out-breath

but to feast on the in.



does that make

this research

a willing act

of personal

and communal





is it not so clear,

more queer,

more fuzzy,

more sacred:

like a sacrificial burning

like the flaming

resurrection story of the phoenix

resurrection story

resurrection story


my clarity has come!

and it flees.