Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Color
This week’s writing challenge asked for a post about color, which got me thinking about colors, which got me thinking about rainbows. In this case, Gay Pride rainbows. I have lived in New Orleans and in Atlanta, both of which have some of the biggest Gay Pride festivals in the US. I used to love Southern Decadence weekend in New Orleans. I was actually down there Labor Day weekend of this year, but Hurricane Isaac had just made his lovely debut, and the place was empty. I was sorry to have missed out. They know how to throw a party in New Orleans.
I will preface this with the statement that I am heterosexual, and as far as I know, I always have been. I was never even interested in some of the “experiences” that people dabble with in college or after. So let’s just say, I am very secure in my sexuality. So secure, in fact, that homosexuality has never had the “ick factor” for me that some people associate with it. And yes, some of my best friends have been gay. I just had to throw that in.
As a woman’s physician (Ob/Gyn), I consider myself an advocate for women’s health, and that includes all women. I have read articles on healthcare for gay/bisexual women, and yes, there are some different issues that need to be considered. Sexually transmitted diseases do not manifest in some of the usual ways, and some patients are caught blindsided by an STD because they were unaware that their partner was not just gay, she was bisexual. I have had several patients who have had transgender surgery and are now female. They also have special health care needs.
The main thing though, that got me thinking about GLBT issues, was not my patients, but something else at work. When I lived and worked in another city (I won’t say which one), two of my Ob/Gyn partners and one of our midwives were gay. That was out of four physicians and three midwives. Working with these women every day began to make me notice things. For example, they never told me they were gay. I had to figure it out. Once I figured it out, they were good with me knowing, but they certainly didn’t bring it up. In fact, they brought it up so seldom that I actually “outed” our boss to one of the new docs when I found out she was a lesbian also. She didn’t even believe me! They never mentioned their partners at work. And none of them even had a picture of their partner in their office, even under the guise of “friendship”. Despite being highly educated and having high powered jobs, or maybe because of these things, they were highly closeted. This all began to strike me as incredibly sad. I was single at the time, and in my thirties, and was hoping maybe to meet someone and settle down, and it started me thinking. Dating is HARD. Being married is HARD. Even if you are straight. And being gay just adds a terrible amount of pressure to an already difficult situation. You may, for example, not even be out to your family. You can’t even talk to them about your dating/marriage woes. You can’t bring your partner home for the holidays. You can’t show off your partner to your straight friends, for fear of being stigmatized or outed where you are at a disadvantage. You don’t get to bring your partner to work picnics, or Christmas parties, all for fear that some of your employees are homophobic. You can’t even keep a photo on your desk to smile at during the day. And unless you live in one of a very few states, you can’t marry them. This on top of just plain old dating and relationships, which even under the best of circumstances are incredibly hard. This situation is unfair, and very sad. That first year I worked there, I became a card carrying member of the Human Rights Coalition and have been one now for twelve years. Nobody at work asked me to do it. I just did it. I read their mailings, because I want to know what businesses are hostile and which are sympathetic to the cause. I want to know the latest politics. I do not know why I have taken this so personally, but I think it is because I dealt with this with friends on a personal level, and also on a business level as a patient advocate.
I also believe in gay marriage. I understand that churches are under no obligation to espouse this, and that is their business. What I believe in is legal civil marriage, with all its rights and opportunities. As a physician, I have seen so many occasions in which a patient is terribly ill, and the partner receives no healthcare information or no ability to participate in healthcare decisions because they have no legal status.
I am also perfectly delighted with adoption into gay families. Every child deserves a chance at a loving family, and kids adapt to families of all kinds with amazing resilience. Sure, these families have all the same problems that straight families have. I’m not saying they’re any better. But they’re certainly not worse. There’s nothing wrong with having two dads or two moms. At the practice I mentioned previously, we did a lot of infertility work for gay couples. There was a lot of activity at the sperm bank!
And let me just say, I don’t eat at Chick Filet anymore.