You Should Be More Aware of LGBT Health, Just Like the Government Is

Apparently last week was LGBT Health Awareness Week. We did not receive our consciousness-raising kit in the mail but we checked for breast cancer TWICE this morning during our extra-long Unemployment Shower and wore SPF 15 on our walk to the liquor store, so we feel pretty confident we’re already knocking this one out of the ballpark.

But you know who actually made an effort, as of Friday? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services! I know, right? I thought they did not even care one tiny bit. More on that in a minute!

Firstly, to what did we owe this monumental occasion of LGBT Health Awareness Week?

LGBT Health Awareness Week aims to bring attention to the devastating cycle of discrimination and health disparities that affects the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Because LGBT people are regularly discriminated against in employment, relationship recognition and insurance coverage, they are more likely to get sick and less likely to be able to afford vital health care than their straight and non-transgender neighbors.

In other words: we’re here, we’re fucked, we’re not interested in getting used to it. The National Coalition For LGBT Health sponsors this week of Awareness-of-How-Sick-We-Are and this year’s theme, “Come Out for Health,” encourages LGBTs and the-people-in-charge-of-things (doctors! the government! social service providers!) to open up honest and productive dialogues to further our collective goals.

Because as you may have noticed, LGBT people are much more likely to be totally f-cked than other people:

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LGBT people abuse alcohol at rates up to three times the mainstream population — that means 45% of LGBTs abuse alcohol. Probably you are one of them.

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LGBTs are 40-70% more likely to smoke than non-LGBTs.

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Nearly one in four gay and lesbian adults lack health insurance and uninsurance rates are even higher for bisexual and transgender people. For example, I don’t have health insurance and I have like 60 pre-existing conditions and went to the hospital a few days ago and it sucked. (Read our roundtable on health insurance)

 

via hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

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LGBT populations are 2.5 times more likely than heterosexuals to have had mental health disorders (mood, anxiety or substance abuse) in their lifetimes and are at a higher risk for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

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Lesbian/bisexual women are more than three times as likely to have experienced generalized anxiety disorder compared to heterosexual women.

So on March 31st, in efforts which may or may not be related to LGBT Health Week, The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services decided that “LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve” and recommended a few ways they could maybe be nicer to us and encouraged doctors to keep track of us. Why? Because “safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.”

First up? LGBTs need to be STUDIED. We’d make such a good statistic, someone should study us now. In other words:

“Researchers should better engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in health studies because of an existing dearth of health data on those populations.

The Department will continue to work toward increasing the number of federally-funded health and demographic surveys that collect and report sexual orientation and gender identity data, consistent with the President’s support for evidence-based policies.”

It’s important to note that LGBT people of color are exceptionally vulnerable to cumulative negative health outcomes for a number of factors, including SERIOUS LACK OF RESEARCH. Also I believe The Powers That Be have yet to conduct a helpful study on transgender persons and existing psychological studies have been lacking, to say the least.

The Department of Health & Human Services’ press release detailed a few things they’ve already been doing to help out the LGBTs, like letting our Life Partner Roommate Best Friends visit us in the hospital as we die and how other various HHS initiatives already put into place will serve the LGBT community, such as The Affordable Care Act, the new National HIV/AIDS strategy, Improvements in Foster and Adoptive Care and The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act.

Highlights of the Health & Human Services’ plans:

+ STRAIGHT AWAY they’ll be informing all the states that they are “empowered” to “treat same-sex domestic partners the same as married heterosexual couples when it comes to protection from ‘spousal impoverishment’ under Medicaid.”

+ HHS now requires that all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth be equipped to serve LGBT youth.

+ They are really serious about ending bullying against LGBT youth as demonstrated by the “unprecedented, cross-departmental National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with a wide range of public and private partners to coordinate suicide prevention efforts.”

+ Healthcare.gov is gonna get its very own LGBT section which will help us find health insurance policies that allow domestic partner benefits which is useful because our own government has written discrimination into the constitution and therefore we cannot get the same benefits as straight people so thank you healthcare dot gov for helping us navigate the rocky roads of inequality.

+ “HHS will encourage new and existing health profession training programs, including behavioral health (e.g. mental health, substance abuse, and HIV) programs, to include LGBT cultural competency curricula.”

+ “HHS will continue to evaluate ways its programs can ensure equal treatment of LGBT families.”

These measures include the creation of an Internal LGBT Coordinating Committee to ensure this shit gets taken care of. Although these things obviously sound real special and we’ll believe real change when we see it, the fact remains that even just SAYING that they want to help the LGBT population is a step in the right direction.

We need our needs accounted for and mentioned when health care policies are developed — and the relative plethora of health research initiatives or developments announced last week are a step in the right direction.

Autostraddle would also like to remind you:

1. Go to the gynecologist: Seriously we should probably set up an affiliate program with Planned Parenthood at this point but we’d like to remind you once again that even if you’ve never had boysex, you still need to get a pap smear.

2. Get a therapist: Whether you were born crazy or your girlfriend made you crazy or your Mom made you crazy, chances are good that you’re kinda crazy.

3. Have safe sex: Did you know that dental dams come in different flavors? They do!

4. Read a f-cking book. I don’t know, it just seems like the kind of thing that would be good for you.

5. Go run around.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing LGBTs w/r/t health? How is your health? Did you eat any vegetables today?

Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1795 articles for us.

77 Comments

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      I don’t know but your mum came last night…

      Yeah, I know, that was too easy a call but honestly, the kinds of issues that are being brought up in this particular article are really important to our community. So many popular media forums are devoted to people discussing mainstream non-queer health issues and I am a firm believer in getting the message out by using whatever means are necessary.

      I’m not so sure about ‘ugh’, but ugg boots will always rock my wintery world.

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Yesterday I improved my health by joining an overpriced women only gym and buying new Gucci sunglasses.

    This message is brought to you by the letter F and the symbol $

  2. Thumb up 0

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    I currently have a raging hangover.
    I’m desperate for a smoke.
    I was definately born crazy. My parents and gf’s made sure the job was a good’un.
    I currently have a viral infection which has triggered my asthma. Possibly a splash of bronchitis in there too.
    Xanax is a a girls (i.e. my) best friend.

    So, lesbians have more to worry about than tongue piercings, razor sharp nails and psycho ex’s.

    Right now I feel like a poster child for lesbianism.

  3. Thumb up 0

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    Riese, its very comforting that you are back at it in usual humor, wit and insight.

    btw, I am probably one of the rarest of college students in that I don’t drink…not by choice mind you…but I have 0 ability to hold liquor…just a few sips of wine makes me dizzy and not feel all that well…maybe its a good thing?

    Take care, off to classes…

  4. Thumb up 0

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    Well, I have raging mental health issues, but I am getting treated for free on the wonderful amazing thing that is the nhs, so I have hope.

    My gf’s ex continues to float around making my life intermittently miserable, but even my pacifist gf has grown sick of her bullshit, so can I get an amen.

    Other than that, I need to eat more fruits and veg and get more exercise. And I am on that.

    I think the biggest problem facing the girl gays in my area is that it is well nigh on fucking impossible to get useful, accurate, practical safe sed advice (my school acted like we didn’t exist, and even gay groups seem to be all about stopping gay boys getting HIV etc, nothing for us), and that because of this the concept of gloves/dams/lube is viewed as hilarious and very strange. Mmmm, that’s a healthy culture.

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      “I think the biggest problem facing the girl gays in my area is that it is well nigh on fucking impossible to get useful, accurate, practical safe sex advice (my school acted like we didn’t exist, and even gay groups seem to be all about stopping gay boys getting HIV etc, nothing for us), and that because of this the concept of gloves/dams/lube is viewed as hilarious and very strange. Mmmm, that’s a healthy culture.”

      Yes. I am currently in my last year of UK schooling and throughout 14 YEARS of full-time education, in three schools (one Church of England, one state comprehensive, one private) I have not heard anything about gay people. Literally. Not an anti-bullying video, not a PSHE lesson, not even a teacher telling someone off for saying ‘that’s so gay.’ Indeed, the only time I asked my Head of Sixth Form why we didn’t have an anti-homophobia bullying policy I was told parents would complain. My sex education was heteronormative and cisnormative to the extreme.

      *Possibly* as a result of that, I now have a pretty toxic cocktail of mental health issues, including but not limited to an extremely unhealthy relationship with food,an ability to not really control my mood and a history of selfharm. Until this week when a bisexual girl came out to me, I knew no other gay people. At all. I’m guessing y’all know how crushingly isolating that can be.

      First thing I do when I get to Leeds University to do Classics is sign up to the LGBT Society.

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        In my second-to-last year at UK school here…sounds like I’ve had a better experience than you, but not great. I’ve heard teachers tell kids off for homophobic remarks. The sixth form I’m at now has an anti-homophobic bullying policy and an LGBT group. In terms of sex education though…yeah, absolutely no mention of anything except straight sex. I was planning to not turn up to the lesson because I knew from past experience it’d be irrelevant, but then I forgot and had to go and sit around while other people learnt how to put condoms on…

        Another crazy person here, although I think I’m probably more in the born crazy category. And the NHS treats me for free, yay!

        Sidenote: I’m hopefully (grades/acceptance willing) going to Leeds next year (as in, next actual year, not academic). Maybe see you there!

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          :0

          I would be fricking over the moon if we had an LGBT group, I’d probably die of happiness. And an anti-homophobic bullying policy would make my life several hundred times easier.I think a large part of my school’s blanking of anyone not straight is that we’re in Kent, the only county in England that decided to put in its own Section 28 after the national one was abolished. Kent’s one wasn’t abolished until 2004, and even then was replaced by “provisions stating that heterosexual marriage and family relationships are the only firm foundations for society.”

          I always feel a bit sick when thinking about that, because if that wasn’t in place my school might have done something on gays in my early teens and I might have got a rather healthier message than the one I otherwise got, thus saving me from months of torment when I realised I was gay a year ago.

          Still. Approx ten weeks to go, then (grades willing) university.

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            I really just want to say LEEDS LEEDS LEEDS :D
            I’m a first year, and the LGBT soc is awesome. If you’re ever free 12-2 just pop in and the committee will make you a cuppa. I’m definitely getting more involved next year :)

            as for schooling – :| tell me about it. A close friend of mine a couple years above me had short hair (clearly a sign of lesbianism :l ) and the head of pastoral care kept a Very Close Eye on her to make sure she wasn’t perverting us (‘perverting’ was implied, think the actual term was ‘seducing’ no joke.) fact is, we were all 16+ but whatever.

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    My health is great. I’ll be running a marathon in a few weeks. I dive all the time, go for walks, play with my young nephews, etc. I’m happy. I love my family and friends. Things were not always this way for me, so if you’re having problems, know that things can change.
    I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, I choose to have a positive attitude, and I have a sense of humor. Those all help.

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      “Things were not always this way for me, so if you’re having problems, know that things can change.”

      ^this.

      it can be easy to get tunnel-vision and not see any way to change a situation so it’s always nice to hear a success story. well done you! :D

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      I have recently been thinking about the whole positive-thinking thing. I tend to have a very positive outlook, partly because I’ve generally lead a blessed life, and partly because I think I’m just built that way. My wife, who has had a pretty much equally blessed life, does not always have the same basic glass-half-full outlook. I think that, to a very great extent, your outlook on things is pretty much built in. Obviously people can change, and all that, but there’s a large part of it that is inherent.

      Also, fyi, it has been shown in studies that positive thinking/affirmations type stuff backfires if the person doesn’t already believe it. Which is kind of the point of that whole theory.

  6. Thumb up 0

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    I treat my mental health issues with abusive alcohol consumption. Does it work? I’m guessing not so much.

    Thanks for this post, I was trying to make a point about this just today and was too lazy to find surveys / stats. Also, I had never thought about the intersectionality when it comes to sexual orientation and “race” (that word makes no sense for the native french speaker in me) and getting health care!

  7. Thumb up 0

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    I kinda live by “live fast die young” rule. Right now I have no health problems from my smoking, drinking everyday and sometime drug use. I should take better care of myself though and look in to safer sex. On the plus side I do have health care because I’m in canada.
    and just to add autostraddle is bad for my sleeping because I’ve been read it all night and now I have to go to work but I just love it to much to stop.

  8. Thumb up 0

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    Did you know that you can not be marginalized out of health insurance for having the pre-existing conditions of HIV/AIDS, but apparently mild allergies are a disqualifier?

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      Since we’re doing PSAs and this phenomenon affects my mental health:

      Hello, I am a TA at a large university. While I love Autostraddle as much as the next queer, please go to the original government websites, read them, and then cite those, not Autostraddle.

      xoxo,
      A grad student

      PS. PLEASE don’t ever cite wikipedia unless your paper is ABOUT wikipedia.

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    i feel like such a minority within the lgbt community that i dont smoke or do drugs ever, or drink on a regular basis… and apparenly the statistics seem to show that.

    just because i try to stay as healthy as possible and i just feel better in general when not drinking heavily doesnt mean that im not a fun person to hang out with who may be interested in everything you are aside from that.

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      Oh me neither. Just turned 19 and haven’t done any of the unholy trinity.

      My grandmother and great-aunt died of smoking related diseases (and I’m asthmatic-smoking would be a terrible idea for me), I don’t like the taste of alcohol and dislike not being in control of myself.

      But if we assume that more gay people than straight do those things because of coping with homophobia, then I have equally unghealthy ways of coping with that issue.

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      Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. Never have, never will. Every single person on both sides of my family are now or were at one time addicted to something. I made the decision at a very young age to just never tempt fate by even trying any of those things. Plus, I have a hard enough time not making a jackass out of myself when I’m sober. And now I really couldn’t drink or do drugs even if I wanted to, because I’m on some serious medications for some conditions I’ve developed.

      Which is not to say that I’m healthy, by any means! I have all kinds of anxiety and depression issues, plus a low-grade eating disorder that can sort of flare up at times, plus an extremely painful degenerative joint condition makes exercise an impossibility.

      So this article is very relevent to my interests. I’ve become more and more invested in the subject of LGBT health lately.

      Also: Hyperbole and a Half *and* Daria? Bestill my heart!

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      I’m 20 and don’t drink, smoke or do drugs which also definitely puts me in a very small minority at the University! I wish I could claim that it was just great self control but part of it is a weak constitution – alcohol in almost any quantity makes me feel terrible. Also my parents are very free spirits but extremely anti-smoking and anti-drug. If any of us kids had been caught drinking or using drugs I am sure we would have been under house arrest for years.

      But also its just what I consider fun: I would much rather spend a Friday night alone with a really cute girl rolling around in the sack than out with a group of people getting stoned and really stupid.

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    My health sucks, but I quit smoking! Go me.

    I just hate this:
    “Are you pregnant?”
    “No, I’m gay.”
    “But is there a chance you could be pregnant?”
    “No.”
    “We’re going to give you a pregnancy test to make sure.”
    I feel like it has something to do with them probably charging my insurance $300 for a really sophisticated pregnancy test.

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      Yeah, I hate it when they repeatedly ask this, too. Sometimes when they look at me all dubious because I say I’m not on birth control and NOT pregnant, I wanna say, “Look, if I’m pregnant you better call the fucking Pope, ‘cuz we’re gonna have another Messiah on our hands.”

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      Actually, among lesbian and bisexual teens, unplanned pregnancies are pretty common. Probably because gay women don’t plan on having sex with men so if they actually do, they’re less likely to use contraception.

      AND when gay women go to the doctor, oftentimes they don’t get information about contraception or safe sex because even doctors don’t really think lesbian and bisexual women are at risk.

      So even if you aren’t having sex with men and never plan to, it’s actually probably good your doctor still wants you to have a pregnancy test.

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    But, but…doctors expensive and Supernaye has little cash (waiting on the next pay check to pay a doctor’s bill…that i’m not sure even worked yet *sigh*).

    Though I should take advantage of the health insurance I paid for this year (fucking $700 and something bucks for a broke college kid a.k.a there goes my savings running away from me *in song voice*).

    Maybe you guys have a point. Though, recently, I have been eating better and being more physically active ^_^ (then I partied for my fake 21st birthday and got slightly s***-faced, but I’ve been doing better).

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    LGBT Health Awareness Week? All of this sounds very, very good, but I didn’t get the memo. Getting the word out to all the homogays should probs be at the top of that list, no?

    That being said, I am a walking health problem, so I think all of this sounds very helpful. I just ate green beans. How am I doing?

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      Were they cooked in bacon? I ask because I haven’t had green beens in about the last three years that were not cooked in bacon. I think it loses health points when it is cooked in fat. Gains awesome points, however.

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          If it’s green and a bean, I think it counts. On the plus side for those of us a bit strapped for cash and bad at planning*, frozen veg is good, it totally counts – cuz it was frozen immediately after picking and thus retains its nutrients. Yay!

          *you know, all those times you _didn’t_ get round to making soup, etc and have to throw away furry veggies while trying not to add up the $$ wastage this represents…

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    Not having health insurance really puts things into perspective sometimes. Like, if you happen to get hit in the face by a flying dove & it scratches you an inch below your eye. If my eye got poked, I probably would have been so screwed.

    But yeah – I definitely do drink. And I smoke, but that happens in random phases. And there is quite an extensive history of mental illness in my family (especially w/r/t the women) so there’s a pretty good chance there’s a story there as well.

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    I just have to comment because of the hyperboleandahalf icon used for this article when it appears on the homepage.

    LOVE.

    Also, very informative and important post. I have a friend doing her masters thesis on the relationship between the tobacco industry and the LGBT community and man is that some effed up shtuff.

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    In all seriousness most of the lgbt scene where I live hang out in the bars and hang outside for smoke breaks..
    I totally have never felt included ( haha i sound like the kid at the playground) but seriously I’m in rowing and am eating mainly vegetables. I train alot and sometimes its hard to meet other lesbians who are into the gym and not so much the party scene. I dont know maybe its just here but its a rough go. also I refuse to date my team mates.. that gets wierd.

    – You think with the stereotype sport lesbian, there would be alot more sporty lesbian and bisexual ladies, and obesity would be on the down… but it doesnt seem like that..
    – maybe I need to go to a different gym… hmmmmm.

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    directed to allie:

    I know right! like somedays I like to be awake in the morning and not have 4 am part nights. I feel really boring sometimes to other lgbt people, because I do alot of university work, work my job, and do alot in the sports community besides rowing.
    which sucks because im not out at rowing yet soooooo I havent tackled that issue of my team yet.

    -” I feel that way also. except for im not THAT sporty”
    no yeah i totally get what you mean, its a lifestyle thing.

    – I live in a semi small city and its known for the party lifestyle haha soo its hard. And I think you said above you drink rarely right?
    – i do too and its rare mainly because i feel like i need to drink gallons of water after i drink for like 3 days to get back to feeling normal and to me thats alot of work.

    but yeah I keep thinking.. all those gym teachers, come on! haha i secretly think alot of them are gay. when they probably arent but I wish haha.
    – this is total rambling, but Its hard to even approach anyone in sports at the gym to see if they are gay and on the off chance they are…
    – maybe there should be fun lgbt sport or workout sessions, where other lgbt could meet health/active interested people. that could be fun :D hmmmmm

    I see a project in the future :)

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      haha well i live in a big city so its sort of the cool urban thing.. i drink socially but ive never been drunk or anything. im more geeky and school keeps me preoccupied alot of the time and obviously meeting others kind of similar to myself is hard because they too are probably hiding in a lab somewhere, not at a club.

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    Medical student here, almost a doc! There are a couple issues close to my heart in the healthcare field related to things I’ve observed in the LGBT community:

    1. Smoking. Number one thing you can do to prevent mortality is quit. I know you feel invincible and healthy now but if you could see the many middle-aged/old people who had head and neck or lung cancer that I’ve seen…the look on their face when they tell you how much they regret ever picking up a cigarette, well that’s the look I quickly call up in my memory when a patient is telling me a sad story and I get the uncontrollable horrifying urge to laugh for no reason I don’t know why I’m a terrible person sometimes.

    2. Women’s health. Go see a gynecologist! It’s not that bad. Some of us have tiny hands and that makes it a little less painful. Sorry for those of you with giant male doctors with giant hands. Gay women were definitely the most nervous of all the patients I saw…trust me, docs have heard way more awkward sexual stories than you could come up with, and it really doesn’t phase us. Also get the HPV vaccine while you’re there!!!

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    AG, for some reason it will not let me reply to other people’s comments when I am on my phone, but sure, I’ll adopt you. Someone adopted me once upon a time :D.

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          Reading comprehension fail. Other options include: splitting open a nitrile glove, which are available in a terrifying array of colours. Blue for firefly fans! Green, purple, black, and off-latex for the rest of us.

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            WHAT. As a serious Firefly fan, I would NEVER let anyone with blue gloves near my ladyparts. Have you seen “Ariel”??

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          Here’s an article from goodvibes.com on using plastic wrap as a barrier and how it can be easier than using dental dams http://bit.ly/dZ1kku

          In short: make sure you’re using a strong, clingy wrap, not the thin, easily torn kind. Unless you’re doing some serious temperature play, whether it’s microwavable or not probably doesn’t matter (you can play it super safe by using the non-microwavable kind). Put some lube on the wrap-ee to make it feel better for her. Make the piece big enough to tuck under her body if you want hands free.

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    I smoke and it’s related to stress. Everyone says to quit, but they never want to address the underlying issue. I don’t smoke because I think it’s cool for goddsake, or because I’m not aware of the health risk or because I feel fine. I smoke because it’s an anti-anxiety drug and I’ve got some anxiety.

    Would I rather use something else that doesn’t have as many negative side-effects? Yes I would. And it would require a prescription and probably a regular doctor to prescribe it. It’s not like I can go to the urgent care clinic for anxiety.

    I’ve quit twice, completely. I can go for several days without smoking if, say, I have a cold. But I return to smoking when I get stressed. And I don’t mean just having a stressful moment, but when I’m experiencing constant stress. And when I’m just trying to get through the week, frankly I’m not thinking about 20 years from now.

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    I’m that 1 gay person in 4 without health insurance, and this is what it means: using WebMd to try figuring out whether I have bronchitis or just a bad cough; borrowing a friend’s unused meds; waiting for the one free GYN clinic a month, only to have to wait for the next month because I get my period that week (of course); hoping my wisdom teeth don’t come in and/or need to be removed.

    So I’m all too aware of my health, thanks. Now I need the government to be aware of my health–and my need for insurance.

    /endrant/

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    Another health issue in the LGBT community, especially among woman, are eating disorders. I kind of live this because I see it in some of the girls in my peer group (college girls in their early 20s). In a few cases I have pulled some interventions (my Mom helped once as well) to force some girls to eat. Once even getting a black eye from a girl who clipped me pretty good for trying to intervene – she later was extremely apologetic.

    I was reminded of this just today when I was eating lunch with a girl who is a friend of a friend and is dealing with her sexual identify. She was pretty thin and ordered a small meatless salad that was not enough food for a pigeon let alone an adult. I offered her some of my fries and was relieved when she took at least some of them.

    It may sound silly, probably so, but its one of the reasons why I try to eat as “normally” as possible like hamburgers, fries, choc shakes, greasy pizza etc. especially when out with friends because I want to model behavior that says not all girls are obsessive about their weight and you don’t need to starve yourself for some false image that society projects on you. Besides food is a wonderful aesthetic and very sensuous and you should enjoy it. In the LGBT community with all the added stress and burdens that it lays on people, I am especially attuned to this issue.

    While I truly admire all the ladies here who are vegan (sincerely), right now its not in the cards for me. Besides, this girl really does like her bacon…..

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    Thanks Riese, for a timely heads-up re: LGBT Health !

    Add to your list–(also mentioned by others on this thread…)

    -stop smoking
    -get real about your drinking
    -wear your seatbelt 100% of the time
    -HPV vaccine, yes even if you’ve never had str8 sex
    -PAP smear, ditto
    -get your butt to the gym
    -find a physician, maybe even find a queer physician >>>>go to them!
    (WE’RE HERE! WE’RE QUEER! WE’RE DOCTORS! see the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association for a doctor directory)
    -STOP SMOKING, DID I MENTION STOP SMOKING? IT’S THAT IMPORTANT!

    Thanks again Riese–(you are hydrating now, right? ;-)

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    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE.

    Yeah so I hear that dental dams apparently aren’t actually a thing (I’m on a campus with a lot of gay ladies and such and I don’t personally know anyone who has ever used one I think) so that means that we all need to get on getting tested, talking about our histories with our partners and special friends and whatnot, and you know being super-safe.

    Or I guess we could try them out and see how it works. But I know a lot of people who are like nuh uh that freaks me out. So I’m just saying.

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    I’d also recommend a daily mental stress reduction practice. If music’s your thing, I’ve listened to Andrew Weil’s “A Symphony of Brainwaves” over 500 times (http://amzn.to/e4wwl0 $9.99, 6 minute intro meditation [I rarely listen to this], 60 minutes of music). It’s amazing how deeply relaxing the music is – willing or not, it pulls you into deep relaxation and then, if you haven’t fallen asleep, guides you back out.

    Because my brain often needs something more active to focus on, I also listen to guided imagery or affirmations (and I don’t mean the brightsiding sort of stuff).

    I’ve got a couple albums from Belleruth Naparstek. I like her voice and that she says outright you don’t have to believe in it for it to work. She’s got 40+ albums listed on topics like stress reduction, healthy sleep, easing grief, self-confidence, general wellness, depression, fatigue, and ocd. In the albums I have, I’ve noticed a lot of overlap in the content so if more than one applies, I’d start with the higher rated or more general one.

    Her albums are only on iTunes and they’re expensive–I just checked a few and they were all $11.99 (stress reduction is longer and $19.99). Typically, there’s an intro track, a track of a 20-30 minute guided meditation, and a track of 20-30 minutes of affirmations.

    If her voice doesn’t work for you, a friend of mine swears by Andrew Weil’s 8 Meditations for Optimal Health.

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