ABC’s of LGBT – The dialogue between gay men and mental, physical health providers
Silence is a persistent enemy for gay men. Many gay men stay quiet around homophobic family and friends, hiding talk of loves and relationships, topics heterosexual people often take for granted. Staying silent is survival in these times, even if the behavior takes an emotional toll over time. Physical health could also take a toll for gay men as well when shying away from honesty.
Men who have relationships with other men present with higher rates of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety compared to their heterosexual counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also finds these particular problems are mitigated among certain men who disclose their sexual orientation.
The fear of an alienation scenario extends into the doctor’s office, as research finds gay men are typically unforthcoming about discussing their sexual orientation. Fear of revealing sexual orientation could be rooted in the higher likelihood of receiving substandard and/or insensitive medical care among gay men.
It’s critical for everyone, not just gay men, to find a trustworthy and accepting doctor. Gay men are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety and sexually transmitted diseases compared to heterosexual counterparts, necessitating a doctor for treatment.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), a team of medical professionals advocating for people of varying sexual orientations and gender identities, provides advice for gay men seeking the best care from their doctors.
The organization encourages gay men to come out to their doctor so the medical professional can know their risk factors both mentally and physically. Being gay doesn’t increase chances of contracting STDs but certain sex practices can up risk factors. In the case of infection, having an accepting doctor in the loop can start a treatment without increased anxiety. Infections at higher risk for this demographic include HIV, HPV and some forms of hepatitis. Immunizations are available for a few of these varieties.
Tobacco use is especially common among gay men and doctors should know about the practice possibly leading to cancer, heart disease and overall poor health. Substance abuse is also more common among people who must deal with disenfranchisement and alienation from society and even family.
Dealing with the silence instead of acceptance or hate in place of care takes a toll on many people. Best efforts on the part of the individual, their support system and mental health professionals can help against the isolation. Sovereign Health Group can also help build resiliency and coping mechanisms for gay men. Call 866-616-3277 today to help end the silence.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer