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"I left with questions unanswered and feeling guilty for being gay."

"After I came out to my family, I wanted to start being more responsible with my mental and

sexual health. So, I came out to my doctor. Before I came out to him, he knew me as a straight male in a 10-year relationship with a woman, my ex-fiancé Brittni. I told him everything that happened between Brittni and I and the process of coming out, but most importantly that I wanted to take control of my mental and sexual health. My doctors first response was, ‘Well you have to be safe sexually, but you know…the gay community is full of fads.’ And he just kept saying that, that the gay community was constructed of *fads*. A little confused, I asked…what fads? He explained, ‘orgies and all those different fads.’ I was blindsided because I wasn’t expecting to hear that reaction from my physician. Later on, in our conversation I mentioned getting on PrEP and he told me ‘Well PrEP is just another one of those fads in the gay community. I’ll have to look into that, I guess. But you know, gay men have multiple sexual partners, sometimes multiple partners in one evening.’ I was uncomfortable by the way he was emphasizing gay sex in this way. He was really just railing me about how the gay community does what they do because we are ‘followers’ of these ‘fads’ and describing our sexual encounters as ‘fashion trends’. I was absolutely mind blown. Continuing the checkup, I wanted a physical and STD screening since it had been over a decade since I had either. His response, my Primary Care physician keep in mind, responded by saying to go to a different place to get that done. At a clinic downtown because it would be more affordable. I ended up having to go downtown to the Bell Flower Clinic, an STI screening and treatment facility, and paid $20 cash for a sexual health screening.

I don’t was all just really weird. Having been in a heterosexual relationship for 10 years and engaged for 4 months made me feel so distant from myself because of the fear of my true identity. I was just trying to be proactive about my health and move forward taking ownership of my sexuality. I wanted to start taking responsibility for who I was and actually try to be authentic in my own skin. I thought a healthy first step was to open up to my doctor in this way, and it ended up being so discouraging. This was supposed to be the one person that I could go to for help, but it ended up feeling counterintuitive. I left with questions unanswered and feeling guilty for being gay.

I felt like I was his first ever gay patient. Even if I was, I’m still a human being and deserved proper care. Which, that definitely was not. It was the first time I’ve felt I have been openly

discriminated against.

Growing up I looked up to my Doctor because he was Jerad Fogle’s dad…the Subway guy who lost a bunch of weight. In my young eyes he was a celebrity’s father, whose son I had seennumerous times on T.V.

Anyway, since then and since I have come more into my own as a gay man, I definitely feel more comfortable talking about my health and sex in general. Which is different and new for me because straight men do not talk about their health at all. You’re supposed to be ‘strong’

and ‘durable’ and straight men just don’t really talk about their health in an open or honest way. It’s just not within straight men, but how straight women interpret it as well. A little bit after I came out, I told my ex about this experience and wanting to make my STI testing records current (which is a healthy and normal thing that everyone should do), she was so distraught that I event mentioned it. Lots of detours were taken as I transitioned into the queer community and it definitely alters one’s perspective on preventative health overall.

My advice to those out there that are queer and may be struggling to find proper

healthcare…RESEARCH! Do your own research, network for recommendations. There is always someone out there that will be much better than a doctor that doesn’t get you. It’s easy to get stuck, especially if it’s a doctor that you’ve been seeing for a while. It can be hard navigating finding a new doctor because of the time it can take and overall trial and error period. But it is worth it. I have a healthcare team, now, that gets me and it’s like seeing the light for the first time." -Andrew Funk, Indianapolis, IN (he/him/his)


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