"I came out when I was around 22. I graduated college, moved straight to NYC, and came out! Well…my coming out was a bit of a slower process. At the time I was a poor college grad with no job, just trying to live in New York City. My sexuality never came up with earlier primary care providers or I avoided the topic by saying “Oh yeah I’m barely having sex with women” or “mmmm yeah sure.” It was easier to not bring it up and just keep pretending. I don’t blame any physicians I saw because I hadn’t even accepted myself at the time…I was a brick wall and they would never be able to get through. The first real experience I had with medicine and being queer was after I’d moved to Boston. By then I was totally comfortable being out. I lived in Cambridge and Somerville and found a local doctor that was covered by my company’s health insurance, not knowing how to locate or why it might be important to find a queer doctor. I didn’t know about Fenway Health nor did I have many have gay friends at the time, so I just tried to find someone to go to for routine checkups, which I considered a very adult thing to do. I consider myself lucky to live and work in such a liberal place like Cambridge, Massachusetts. I found a doctor who was a lovely lady, incredibly smart, a very good listener, and very understanding. When it came to questions related to my sexual orientation, I wasn’t dodging anything…I was comfortable using gendered pronouns and talking about who I was sleeping with and her advice was just to practice safe sex. When I brought up PrEP, she didn’t have prior experience with it but vowed to do everything she could to learn more about it. After doing her own research she followed up with “Yes! I think is something we should put you on to make sure you are safe…,” and proceeded to run me through a comprehensive education on follow ups, testing, and side effects. She really did a great job of educating me. She might not have had many gay clients, but she still made the entire experience a positive one.
A few years later I moved out of Cambridge and I once again looked for a doctor that was covered by my health insurance. By this time, I was also training for and running the Boston marathon, so I found a doctor in downtown Boston, who also had experience with runners/athletes. He was good, but it was clear he was uneducated when it came to treating LGBTQ people. I mentioned PrEP in my first appointment and my desire to continue taking it, and I was met once again with a lack of knowledge on the subject. He wasn’t immediately understanding of the acceptance or prevalence of HIV prevention, as I detected a hint of judgement, but he too followed the appointment with research of his own and committed to helping me in every way he could. Some conversations we had surrounding gay sex were more than a little awkward, but as with my prior experience our interactions and relationship was generally positive.
I also recognize my privilege of being a cis, white gay man living in a liberal hub so I can imagine my experiences are likely better than most. I would say that while I was met with general acceptance, there was a general lack of education of LGBTQ medicine in every medical professional I’ve been treated by, even in Massachusetts. If I was dealing with any larger medical or psychological issues, or if I was transitioning, I would’ve had to seek more knowledgeable and accepting, specialized care [likely at Fenway Health].
My only other experience with a medical professional was with a therapist I sought when I first moved to Boston and was having some relationship issues with my partner at the time. Once again, I went through insurance and met with an older, white, straight man. He was such a good listener, and when I talked about my relationship or sex, he surprised me by being extremely understanding, he was incredible. He helped me realize I wasn’t crazy and was in an unhealthy relationship. It was a really great experience, and as a result, I think we should all support seeking out help with mental health and reduce the stigma. Even if it is just to give you some piece of mind or help you think through a difficult situation, it is something that I would recommend to everyone.
My advice to anyone having bad experiences in healthcare: Keep looking! Most consumers of the medical industry are not informed and don’t know their options. While I lucked out with positive experiences, not all experiences will be the same, so educate yourself and keep looking to find the right doctor to fit your needs. LGBTQ focused healthcare and resources are rapidly growing so don’t settle for inadequate healthcare" -Kevin (he/him/his)
Kevin has put forth some helpful links which you can also find through navigating the "resources" tab on Dxqueer.com: