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Stigma

Naked Buns Are Helping Queer Health Care

Zachary Zane

Instead of having folks sign a petition, a new campaign is calling for butt selfies.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find a health care professional who’s up-to-date and sensitive to specific needs of the LGBTQ and HIV-positive communities. Yet, for many, it still is.

In some smaller suburbs, it’s nearly impossible to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about issues like PrEP, hormone replacement therapy, anal pap smears, and other queer health care requirements. In fact, most people living with HIV have to specifically see an infectious disease specialist when, in theory, their primary care physician should know how to help them achieve and sustain an undetectable viral load.

These days, HIV is a manageable condition, similar to diabetes. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of HIV-positive and/or queer people to find a doctor adept at treating them. That’s why the #WeNeedAButtoncampaign is putting the responsibility on doctor-patient matching sites.

I’ve teamed up with DatingPositives.com, a dating site for poz people, and
Waxoh.com, its sex-positive digital magazine, to promote the effort.
DatingPositives.com embraces those managing all STIs and takes their issues very seriously. Given that the LGBTQ community often overlaps with this community, the partnership was a perfect match — so to speak.

Together, we have a mission to improve our community’s health care experience and minimize stigmatization. Our simple solution? A single button to identify queer-friendly doctors.

Instead of signing a petition, we’re asking everyone who is with us — members of the queer community, those living with HIV, and allies — to post a “belfie,” or butt selfie, in solidarity, using the hashtag #WeNeedAButton.

The #WeNeedAButton hashtag campaign launched on June 25, and we will continue until we’ve successfully convinced major patient matching sites, like Zocdoc, Yelp, and HealthGrades to include a button, or filter, that lets people know that a provider is queer-friendly.

That way, when you see a doctor you don’t have to worry they won’t believe you when you say you’re bisexual, or even more annoying, suggest you “pick a side,” which is something that still happens. The doctor will know what to do if, for some reason, they notice that your viral load has become detectable. They also won’t misgender you. Neither will they judge you for not wearing condoms or for having casual sex.

In short, they’ll get you, and they’ll treat you with the respect that you — and for that matter, all patients — deserve.

Take my friend Isaac, 21, who came out as trans and started transitioning while he was in his late teens. When he brought up the idea of starting PrEP once he had begun sleeping with gay men, the doctor refused to prescribe him Truvada since she didn’t see trans men as being a high-risk group. The doctor wrongly believed that cisgender gay men wouldn’t sleep with a trans man, which simply isn’t true. Roughly a year later, Isaac contracted HIV.

If the doctor had prescribed PrEP like Isaac requested, “I likely wouldn’t have gotten HIV, since I would have been on PrEP for that whole year,” Isaac tells Plus.

He’s not alone, and I’ve heard many similiar stories working with DatingPositives.com. Chris, 45, was diagnosed with HIV in 2007. The doctor not only shared his test results over the phone, which isn’t legal, he also provided Chris with zero resources, simply recommending that he “find another doctor.” He didn’t even provide any recommendations for other health care professionals.

“He absolutely did not want me as a patient,” Chris recalls. “I felt very discriminated against. Fortunately, my roommate at the time knew a great doctor at Fenway [Health], an HIV specialist and a gay man, who took me on as a patient when he heard my experience with my previous doctor.”

Chris says he was lucky that he contracted HIV in his 30s, when he was knowledgeable about the virus and also had numerous gay friends and support systems. But what if Chris wasn’t yet out when he contracted HIV and didn’t know what to do? What if he didn’t have a support group? What if his friend didn’t know of a gay HIV specialist who luckily had an open spot for a new patient?

The time for change is now. Join me, DatingPositives.com, and hundreds of others in sharing our booties! If we can get tens of thousands of folks to share their medical horror stories and butts, I think the campaign will make a massive impact. The campaign will not only force patient matching sites to create this filter, but also let health care professionals know that they need to step up their game.

The level of care queer and positive folks receive is often horrendous — but we’re not going to take it anymore.

Zachary ZaneContributing editor ZACHARY ZANEis also a writer focusing on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, and relationships. Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyZane

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Zachary Zane

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.