That's the question I was asked by Saerom Yoo, a journalist with the Statesman Journal. Last weekend Happy Doc helped sponsor Capitol Pride, an event celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Ms. Yoo wrote an article and took video of the event, and I wanted to take this opportunity to give a more detailed answer to her question.
As a minority group, the LGBT community is often underserved in our health care system, and distinct health disparities exist between heterosexual and LGBT populations. LGBT people are less likely to seek medical care, resulting in later diagnoses and more advanced disease. Discrimination against LGBT individuals has been linked to high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems, including suicide. In the LGBT community, rates of obesity, alcohol, and tobacco use are higher than in the general population. Many LGBT individuals do not feel welcome or safe in clinics, where their sexuality might be ignored or assumed to be heterosexual.
I wanted Happy Doc to have a presence at Capitol Pride to let the LGBT community know that my clinic is a safe space, welcoming of people of all sexual orientations and genders. All of the other American cities I have lived in have health providers represented at the Pride events; I see no reason for Salem to differ in this regard.
It was also a lot of fun! Kids were running around, enjoying the free bubbles, stickers, and balloons - the more adventurous kids even had their blood pressures checked. I loved having the chance to talk to folks about their experiences in health care and how we can create a more welcoming environment.
Now that we have a booth for these types of events, I want to do more of them! If your church, motorcycle club, workplace, or whatever group you call home is going to have an event and you want me there, let me know. Salem is home to all types of people and communities and I want to meet them.
Visit the gallery below to see all of our photos!