Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Closing the (LGBT health) gap

Yeah, I’m an opportunist. 
I bet you are, too.

by Simone Koehlinger
Director, Office of LGBT Health
Chicago Department of Public Health

We’re in the midst of National LGBT Health Awareness Week. I suppose I should tell you that this year’s theme is “Closing the Gap.” But I should also disclose, in all honesty, I don’t care what the theme for National LBGT health awareness week is.

Don’t get me wrong--- it’s a fine theme. It’s just that, as far as I’m concerned, the theme could be anything. It could be inspired by American Idol (“THIS is LGBT Health Week”), it could be one step away from a Hallmark card (“Roses are red, violets are blue, I am healthy and you should be too.”), or it could come with its own music video (“Lady Gaga does LGBT Health”).

As long as we call attention to LGBT health, a catchy theme really doesn’t matter. We gays, bisexuals, and transgender people just don’t hear many positive things about ourselves. When someone is rolling out health news, rarely do we catch a glimpse of how it applies to us. Our communities face a number of health disparities that are not adequately addressed. That’s why LGBT health awareness is needed each and every week of the year.

I’m often the cocktail party attendee who is sipping sparkling water and just waiting for the perfect opening to talk about gay men’s’ syphilis rates or lesbians’ mammography seeking behaviors. Yeah, it can be annoying. But these are conversations that need to be had--- over and over again until things change.

And our conversations should include all the good things we are doing, too. There’s lots to celebrate, including the multiple ways in which we are thriving and taking care of ourselves and each other. How often do we acknowledge the strength, passion, and creativity that is as much a part of our communities as our health challenges?

So calm down, I’m not asking you to join in me in the LGBT-health-365-days-a-year regimen – that might be a tad bit excessive. But doing these 3 simple things would make a big difference:

Mention to at least 3 friends that this is LGBT Health Awareness Week (feel free to use your Ryan Seacrest voice). If you don’t feel like using your inside voice, there’s always Facebook, Twitter, Google chat, Skype, your Manhunt profile, and fill-in-the-blank.

Share this link (and 1 interesting morsel, like did you know LBGTs are less likely to have health insurance?) with your colleagues, friends, family, medical provider, or anyone:

If you’re gay, lesbian, bi or transgender, commit to doing ONE thing that will improve or help you maintain your health. If you’re an ally (we love you!), commit to doing one thing to ensure quality care for the LGBT people in your life.

Go ahead, call me an opportunist. I’ll shamelessly capitalize on this and EVERY chance to talk up LGBT health. And even without a sensational video, I bet you will too.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

select key words

2007 National HIV Prevention Conference 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit 2011 LGBTI Health Summit 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit 2012 International AIDS Conference abstinence only ACT Up activism advocacy Africa african-american aging issues AIDS AIDS Foundation of Chicago anal cancer anal carcinoma anal health anal sex andrew's anus athlete ball scene bareback porn barebacking bathhouses bears big bold and beautiful Bisexual Bisexual Health Summit bisexuality black gay men black msm blood ban blood donor body image bottom Brian Mustanski BUTT Center on Halsted Charles Stephens Chicago Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Chris Bartlett chubby chaser circumcision civil rights civil union Coaching with Jake communication community organizing condoms Congress crystal meth dating dating and mating with alan irgang David Halperin David Munar depression disclosure discrimination domestic violence don't ask don't tell douche downlow Dr. James Holsinger Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles Dr. Rafael Diaz Dr. Ron Stall drag queen Ed Negron emotional health ENDA Eric Rofes exercise Feast of Fun Feel the love... female condom fitness Friday is for Faeries FTM gay culture gay identity gay latino gay male sex gay marriage gay men gay men of color gay men's health Gay Men's Health Summit 2010 gay pride gay rights gay rugby gay sex gay youth gender harm reduction hate crime HCV health care health care reform health insurance hepatitis C HIV HIV care HIV drugs HIV negative HIV positive HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV strategic plan HIV testing hiv vaccine HIV/AIDS homophobia homosexuality hottie hotties how are you healthy? Howard Brown Health Center HPV human rights humor hunk Illinois IML immigration International AIDS Conference international mr. leather internet intimacy IRMA Jim Pickett leather community leathersex Leon Liberman LGBT LGBT adoption LGBT culture LGBT health LGBT rights LGBT seniors LGBT youth LGBTI community LGBTI culture LGBTI health LGBTI rights LGBTI spirituality LGV LifeLube LifeLube forum LifeLube poll LifeLube subscription lifelube survey Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano love lube lubricant Lymphogranuloma Venereum masturbation mental health microbicides middle Monday Morning Perk-Up MRSA MSM music National AIDS Strategy National Gay Men's Health Summit negotiated safety nutrition One Fey's Tale oral sex Peter Pointers physical health Pistol Pete pleasure PnP podcast policy politics poppers porn post-exposure prophylaxis PrEP President Barack Obama Presidential Campaign prevention Project CRYSP prostate prostate cancer public health public sex venues queer identity racism Radical Faerie recovery rectal microbicides relationships religion research safe sex semen Senator Barack Obama sero-adaptation sero-sorting seroguessing sex sexual abuse sexual addiction sexual health sexual orientation Sister Glo Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence smoking social marketing spirituality STD stigma stonewall riots substance abuse treatment substance use suicide super-bug superinfection Susan Kingston Swiss declaration syphilis Ted Kerr Test Positive Aware Network testicle self-examination testicular cancer testing The "Work-In" The 2009 Gay Men's Health Agenda Tony Valenzuela top Trans and Intersex Association trans group blog Trans Gynecology Access Program transgender transgender day of remembrance transgendered transmen transphobia transsexual Trevor Hoppe universal health care unsafe sex vaccines video violence viral load Who's That Queer Woof Wednesday writers yoga You Tube youtube