LGBT Youth Consult

Advocate for your LGBTQ patients


 

June 28, 1969, is the day that many consider to be the origin of the modern LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) movement.1 At that time, it was not uncommon for police officers to conduct raids on bars frequented by LGBTQ patrons, but this night was different. This night the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back. The subsequent violent clashes fueled the national organization of groups concentrated on the goal of advocating for LGBTQ rights. On June 28th, 1970, protests to commemorate the events at Stonewall occurred; many refer to these as the first Pride events. Since then the month of June has been seen as the unofficial Pride month for the LGBTQ community. These events began as demonstrations for equal rights and protections for LGBTQ individuals, but over time, events have grown also to become a celebration of queer lives and sexuality.2

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These events are important and affirming to many of the LGBTQ youth for whom we care. For some, it may be the only time they feel that their identities are recognized, accepted, and celebrated. When these youth attend a Pride event and see LGBTQ people and allies of all ages and backgrounds participating, it can be reassuring and help lessen the feelings of isolation that they may experience in other spaces.

I attended my first Pride event over 10 years ago in support of a friend who had recently come out. He told me that the event was a place where he could proudly be his full self, something that he felt was not safe to do at school or work. When I participated at that event years ago, I began to understand my straight, cisgender privilege: I could walk down the street holding hands with my partner, discuss the details of a first date with colleagues at work, and wear the clothes that aligned with my gender identity without fear of being harassed or attacked. This, I realized, was not the case for everyone. Since attending that Pride event, I have had the opportunity to attend and volunteer at many local Pride events. Some have been in pouring rain, some have been in scorching heat, but all have been rejuvenating, inspiring, and fun! They have been opportunities for me to visibly show support for the local LGBTQ community and meet with other LGBTQ-serving organizations and allies.

Ways to get involved

Find out about local Pride events in your community and consider attending or volunteering. One of the contributing factors to LGBTQ health disparities is limited access to competent care. Many LGBTQ youth and adults have reported experiences of discrimination in the health care setting.3,4 When we, as health care providers, are visible at Pride events, we can have important effects on our local communities by showing them that we recognize and affirm LGBTQ identities.

Consider asking your organization or institution to provide support at local Pride events, post messages of support during Pride month, or host educational sessions about the care of LGBTQ youth.

Advocate for your patients. Remember the origins of Pride events. Remember that Pride started as an event to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Continue to advocate for your patients in your institutions and communities year round by educating your staff and colleagues about care of this population and contacting your elected representatives regarding legislation to improve health care.

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