I wanted to start off my first blog by introducing my experiences on health care and prejudice faced as identifying in the LGBT+ community as a cis gay man. Now I know far more people in the community have faced worse prejudices and I hope this site will help people find LGBT+ competent care with no discrimination.
When I was in my late teen years and in the closet I was ashamed of my sexuality and didn’t know much about sex and was afraid of people finding out I was gay. It didn’t help growing up in a catholic family and going to the same doctor my father went too. My doctor never even talked to me about sex and I always felt I was never getting the best care. Now I did come out at 19 and I had this same doctor until I was 22 and still wasn’t being talked to about sex. It was a very confusing time for me and I went through many learning experiences.
The reason why I left my doctor at 22 was because of prejudice and being very uncomfortable after needing PEP from being involved in some risky sex situations. I was young and naive and went through a rough time considering I was afraid of becoming HIV positive after someone told me I had sex with someone who was HIV positive. I didn’t think of the repercussions that came with having sex and I was reckless when I first came out. I remember being scared and went online to figure out what to do. So I went to the emergency room and was told they will have PEP, which is post-exposure prophylaxis to help prevent HIV infection within 72 hours after being exposed. I was so inexperienced and scared and didn’t have much support through it. I ended up going to the ER and they told me they had no such medicine and was confused on what PEP even was. This was back in 2012 when being HIV positive had more of a stigma attached to, and HIV wasn’t as researched. I had to tell the nurse and demand them that they had the meds because I was going to be discharged. The nurse ended up calling around and a doctor told them they have sample packages of PEP and where to find it. I ended up getting PEP and was told it wasn’t fully effective and I would have to go to my doctor to get a prescription of it since I would need to continue for about a month after the sample. So, I went to my doctors office and told them I need this prescription and I remember getting stares and wasn’t even told why I need this. It was very uncomfortable and I just left feeling insecure. Thankfully, I have become well educated on HIV, and medication related to HIV has come a long way. HIV testing has a shorter window time, and PEP and PREP are significantly reducing new HIV rates. Being HIV positive also isn’t as stigmatizing as it was 10 years ago and people live ordinary healthy lives being HIV positive. I do still believe more people need to be educated on sex positivity and HIV and not be ashamed of sex.
After experiencing some prejudice and dealing with doctors who didn’t know anything about the LGBT+ population, I decided to do some research and found out about Fenway Health in Boston. I found an amazing doctor and finally felt comfortable talking to my doctor and was getting care that met my needs. Its amazing the difference in care I was receiving and I was finally open with everything. I was a patient at Fenway up until last year, I left because of the commute being too long.
Now, since leaving Fenway I have had some problems trying to find a competent doctor that met my needs. I had a doctor in Southeastern Massachusetts that wasn’t fully aware on why I was taking Truvada (PREP)and thought I needed to be HIV positive in order to be taking them. I also recently moved near Providence and tried seeing a doctor in Warwick but there I didn’t feel comfortable since the doctor right away was being too open and assumed I was a bottom and he made some sexist remark. Plus the room was filled with all sports memorabilia and made me feel as if I was 10 again. On top of that they took my blood pressure with a home portable test that I could get at CVS. Recently though, I found a great doctor at Thundermist in Woonsocket who was very professional and the intake forms even go over gender identity and sexual orientation, I was impressed.
Because of my troubles I had trying to find a doctor who is LGBT+ competent, I wanted to make this website so people can find a doctor who is educated on LGBT related topics, where one can be comfortable and where one can talk openly to a doctor without any discomfort or prejudice. I also want people in the community to find an appropriate mental health provider, a support group, a place of worship, social spots, and more that is all LGBT+ inclusive and affirming!