HRC Blog

Ending National LGBT Health Awareness Week on a Positive Note

The following guest post comes from LGBT health expert Shane Snowdon:

What a wonderful way to end National LGBT Health Awareness Week! I’m out (so to speak) in Portland, Oregon, where the annual statewide LGBTQ Meaningful Care Conference has attracted almost 400—yes, 400—attendees. The folks of the LGBTQ Health Coalition of the Columbia-Willamette deserve mega-kudos: in 20 years of LGBTQ health advocacy, I’ve never seen a better LGBTQ health meeting. Their day-long schedule would be a great template for anyone thinking of having their own LGTBQ health get-together, of any size!

I keynoted the Conference, and got to do something rare and rewarding. Because their many workshops covered all the challenges that LGBTQ people face in healthcare, they asked me to talk about good news—the ways in which healthcare is awakening to our needs. I loved doing this, talking about all the health developments I never dreamed as a young lesbian I’d live long enough to see. For just one example, check out the federal Healthy People 2020 LGBT website, featuring lots of info and a couple of real-life men with their arms around each other.

As far as we still have to go, we’ve come a long way from the days of federal agencies automatically firing us as “perverts!”

National LGBT Health Awareness Week has been celebrated for a decade now, and there was more activity this year than ever before. In addition to events around the country, there were well-attended Capitol Hill briefings on LGBT health, featuring HRC’s Brian Moulton and representatives of the National LGBT Health Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, and the Family Equality Council. And Mary Wakefield, Administrator of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, held a conference call where she reviewed what she and other HHS officials are doing to meet LGBT health needs.

This year’s Awareness Week events definitely show that our time has come in healthcare—if we keep talking about what we need, individually and collectively, all over the country. I spoke yesterday at one of several Boston-area hospitals that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), and here in Portland no fewer than three facilities were Leaders on the HEI last year. I’m looking forward to continued progress in places like Boston and Portland—and also to getting the word out in areas where healthcare providers are just realizing we exist!

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