To singles and couples alike, congratulations, we’ve survived/enjoyed/ignored another Valentine’s Day! I chose to celebrate by belatedly commemorating National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (observed annually on February 7th) with an annual check-up. So while many partook in racy rendezvous, I volunteered to be poked in a different way (BAM! Thank you, thank you. I’m here all night, folks).
I’d scheduled a visit with a new doctor, which meant, as a queer woman, I’d have to face an inevitably awkward conversation about my sexuality. I’ve been down this road countless times before and have learned a great way to ease the discomfort is to try to predict what kind of response I’ll get. A furrowed brow? A deafening pause? A stammer? Sometimes, you just never know. Well, this one was a lip purser. While she scribbled some notes onto her pad, I made a mental one to add her reaction to my list for next time.
But the truth is, I don’t want there to be a next time. There’s nothing fun or whimsical about being made to feel like somehow you’re a glitch in the system- a speed bump in the monotonous rotation of prodding and prescribing. Next to what you share with your parents, partners and/or priests, the patient-doctor relationship may be the most vital one you’ll have. Therefore, it should be one built on trust and respect, no compromises and no exceptions.
But finding a practitioner that specializes in LGBTQI health is as difficult as, well, finding a practitioner that specializes in LGBTQI health. They’re out there, but once we factor in affordability and accessibility, the pickings are beyond slim. Thankfully, there are some queer-focused non-profits that may be able to help. In my digging, I was able to find a couple of resources that might come in handy for some of our readers. see below
The bottom line is: coming out to your health provider should be a seamless and comfortable process free of raised eyebrows, dropped jaws, and clearing of throats. Besides, everyone knows awkward conversations about gay sex should be reserved for family reunions, not doctors’ offices (I know, I know. What can I say? It’s a gift).