Yeah, I’m an opportunist.
I bet you are, too.
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.
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: www.lgbthealth.net/awarenessweek10
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.