LGBTQ Fashion!

All my life clothes have been a huge issue!  I coped with the “proper” attire for girls and young women by conforming, but never felt comfortable or at ease in the stuff I was required to wear.  Then not long after coming out, I sought out male attire, or very “tailored” women’s clothing – the only exception being that I preferred sleeveless tank tops to the stiff button-down and long sleeve shirts (I hate being hot!).  So recently on my daily walk around downtown Oakland I discovered that we have a shop dedicated to the needs of LGBT and Q folks!  I knew there was already one in San Francisco, but Oakland??  Then I discovered the video below, all of which adds up to a wonderful new trend serving our communities!

Clothes are a huge issue for everyone, and feeling comfortable and “at home” in what you are wearing may not be something you think about consciously, but for many LGBTQ folks this is a top-of-the-list concern.  Clothes make a statement for everyone, but for gender-bending and queer folks, they are a way to convey our identities along a gender-bending spectrum. If our clothes are comfortable in an “at home” kind of way, they support our determination to be real, to be at home in our identity, challenging the norms of societal behavior in the realm of fashion.  So enjoy this video – and look for a new enterprise near you, or in a place you might visit soon!

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National Coming Out Day – October 11, 2016

Regardless of your personal identity, get ready to celebrate this day openly, with joy and with pride!  By joining a host of others, expressing your support for all people to be free to be who they are, you can make someone’s life oh so much better, and in fact you could save a life!

Posted in Coming out, Mental Health, Social Support | 1 Comment

Report from the 4th Annual GLMA Nursing Summit!

The 4th Annual GLMA Nursing Summit in St Louis, Missouri was a wonderful success!  The day offered ample opportunities for networking among nurses dedicated to improving health and healthcare for all LGBTQ individuals and families!  Tonda Hughes’s opening presentation, titled “From gay bars to marriage equality: The evolution of research on sexual minority women’s health from one researcher’s perspective” inspired all to follow her example and pursue a career path dedicated to LGBTQ health. See the GLMA Nursing website.

The 2017 GLMA Nursing Summit will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 13th!  Mark your calendar now and plan to be there!

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Zika & LGBT Health

The 2016 Summer Olympics brought many phenomena to world attention, including openly gay, lesbian, and transgender athletes, as well as egregious examples of white male privilege. However, one global concern that emerged in Brazil and elsewhere promises to alarm us for some time to come: the Zika virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide extensive information about the virus, its prevention, and its risks.

Zika is a virus spread by two routes of transmission: the Aedes species mosquito (which also transmits some other “tropical” viruses) and sex.

Zika produces flu-like symptoms, including “fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week” according to the CDC.

Some patients may develop the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). But of greater concern is that infected pregnant woman may give birth to an infant with microcephaly.

Like HIV, Zika can be found in blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. Sexual transmission can include vaginal, anal, and oral sex, as well as shared sex toys. Infected people without symptoms may transmit the virus to an uninfected person. It is not yet known how long the Zika virus may remain in the body after infection. Last month the CDC provided updated guidelines regarding Zika and sex.

There is as yet no vaccine or treatment for Zika infection. However, there are some reasonable guidelines for prevention:

  • Consider travel plans carefully in order to avoid regions where Zika is present (including South America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. Gulf states).
  • Use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Consider safer sex practices (for example, using condoms or other barriers or avoiding vaginal, anal or oral penetration).
  • Lesbians who are planning to become pregnant as well transgender women and men who have sex with men should consider risk-reduction practices.

In a recent issue of the New York Times, Kelly McBride Folkers characterized Zika as “the Millennials’ STD.” A highly infectious viral agent transmitted by a variety of vectors deserves our concern and attention.

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How do day-to-day decisions about being “out” affect health?

Our last few blog posts on Lavender Health have touched on the challenges of being “out” – and indeed I had a recent conversation that brought the health implications of this challenge to the forefront.  The conversation reminded me that each and every day, and usually several times a day, even those of us who consider ourselves to be “out” and very open with our LGBTQ identity, encounter situations when we have to decide, once again, out&proud“am I going to come out?”   A couple of people in the conversation commented on the typical approach that is akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” or “I don’t make a big deal of it – if someone asks I will be honest but I don’t go around waving a flag.” I shared an occasion with a supervisor on a new job approached me during my first week on the job and warned me not to talk about being a lesbian!  Surely, these day to day challenges affect our health.  I know they make me tense, they distract me from attending to aspects of a situation that I might need to focus on instead, and the emotions and mental memories linger for a long long time.

Consider these scenarios:

  • You are on an elevator with your partner, and someone asks “are you sisters?”
  • You have ordered take-out on the phone and your partner will be picking up the order.  You know that if were in a heterosexual relationship you would say “my wife” or “my husband.”  You have to decide if you are going to use one of these terms, or simply say “my friend.”
  • A person taking your reservation for a trip asks you for your emergency contact, and the relationship of that person to you.  You have to decide how to label your relationship in this particular situation.
  • You are introducing yourself to a new group, and everyone else has shared something about their family.  What are you going to say about yours?

So what do you think? Share experiences you have had, and also ways in which you deal to compensate!


Posted in Activism, Coming out, Join the discussion, LGBT Health, Mental Health, Minority Stress, Stories of our lives | Leave a comment