If we want change — real change — within our nation, our local communities and even within the LGBTQIA+ experience, it requires real individuals to stand up, be heard and be the impetus for agendas to move forward.
It’s a simple request and demand: We want to be heard!
But being heard is harder than ever before in our nation, it seems, because there are so many different groups and movements that are speaking out.
From women’s rights to immigrant rights to rallies wanting equality for human rights — the sheer volume can feel overwhelming.
Sure, we all can make a lot of noise. But that doesn’t mean that we are actually being heard.
For me, I want to be heard in my healthcare experiences. I want the healthcare delivered to me to be personal, designed specifically for me — the exact opposite of community-wide healthcare. And I want my healthcare providers to understand my journey and react specifically to the needs that I have on my journey.
I don’t want to be a statistic anymore, and I couldn’t care less about in what risk pool I’ve previously been placed or grouped. Sometimes the labels and words — like “MSM” (men who have sex with men) and “high risk” (sexually) — completely veil my identity within my own health.
And it isn’t okay anymore.
I am an individual first, and my healthcare needs to be mine. I want to be heard.
As a cisgender white male, I have substantial privilege, obviously. I completely accept that as neither my fault nor my reward. I cannot affect it. I recognize it, however.
But as an HIV-positive queer trying to navigate healthcare, at times I feel I am losing. I have yet to find health equity — and I’m putting in the work.
More times than not, I believe that lack of understanding of the LGBTQIA+ experience by my healthcare providers is the beginning of the concerns.
For me, I am already on the defensive with a new provider as I attempt to explain or recognize whether they are queer-friendly.
That is precisely why I am so supporting of the #WeNeedAButton campaign that is calling for patient-matching websites to include an identifier for queer-friendly medical providers. The simple identification of these providers will reduce the anxiety that I experience from the onset of a medical appointment.
As much as we are told to stand up and fight for social issues, to rise up and speak against inequalities and to do the important work to bring justice and equity to all people, I realize that each of us has the right and need to be heard as an individual in our own personal healthcare — because so much of it happens behind closed doors. The quest to find queer-friendly providers is an important first step in reaching this goal.
We want to be heard. We should be heard.
Let’s fight to make it happen. Join me in supporting the #WeNeedAButton campaign and share your healthcare story as an LGBTQIA+ individual.
The time is now!
Josh Robbins is a spokesperson for Dating.com Group, an award-winning sexual health advocate, and author of the site imstilljosh.com. He was nominated for a GLAAD media award in 2017 and recently won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s Excellence Award in the blogging category.