Adrian Shanker's Blog, Interview

Doctors and LGBTQ leaders explain why it’s important to come out to your healthcare provider

By Brittany Sweeney
June 21, 2021

During Pride Month the Mayo Clinic is informing the LGBTQ community that it’s important to let their healthcare provider know who they are. This information is critical, they say. Audio Player00:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Listen to the story.

Adrian Shanker, founder and executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, wrote the book “Bodies and Barriers, Queer Activists on Health.” 

It’s a collection of healthcare experiences from LGBTQ people and challenges they have accessing care and medical services.

Shanker says although revealing information about gender and sexuality to your doctor may be uncomfortable.

“Well, the saying is, ‘to treat me, you have to know who I am.’ And it’s impossible for a clinician to be able to provide the care that any patient needs if they don’t know enough about our lives, if they don’t know about our behavioral risks, doctors need to be able to ask the right questions, requests the right screenings, order the right tests to meet that person’s life,” Shanker says. 

It is absolutely crucial to a person’s well being to level with a provider.

“We need to be out to our doctors, we need to have honest conversations with the people providing healthcare to us. That way they can provide the best care that we need for our bodies and our lives,” he says. 

If someone is not comfortable sharing personal information with their doctor, Shanker says, they should find a new provider.

He also suggests bringing a friend to appointments for support.

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health

Adrian Shanker is an award-winning activist and organizer whose career has centered on advancing progress for the LGBT community. He has worked as an arts fundraiser, labor organizer, marketing manager, and served as President of Equality Pennsylvania for three years before founding Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA, where he serves as executive director. An accomplished organizer, Adrian has led numerous successful campaigns to advance LGBT progress through municipal nondiscrimination and relationship recognition laws and laws to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. A specialist in LGBT health policy, he has developed leading-edge health promotion campaigns to advance health equity through behavioral, clinical, and policy changes.

Back to Adrian Shanker’s Author Page