Pride Month: Small gestures make a big difference

June 9, 2022

A Pride Month Q&A With Doug Streat, Chief Operating Officer, Aledade Care Solutions

How do you celebrate Pride and what does it mean to you?

I know how important representation is, and as a leader, it’s important to me to make sure that all of our team members, regardless of their sexual or gender identity, feel accepted and celebrated for who they are.

As a result, I celebrate my LGBTQ+ identity proudly year-round, but in June, I take extra steps to share that pride with others — in small ways, like wearing my beloved rainbow Apple Watch band, and in bigger ways, like heading to parades or making donations to nonprofits like The Trevor Project.

I also take time during Pride month to reflect on my own journey towards self-acceptance. To me, pride is about being proud of how we love others, yes, but it’s also about unabashedly loving ourselves.

What can people in healthcare do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the global LGBTQ+ community?

One of the amazing privileges and deepest responsibilities of working in healthcare is the broad range of healthcare disparities that we are charged with dismantling. Gender and sexual minorities are majorly disadvantaged in a number of systematic ways. Take, for example, these statistics on discrimination towards LGBTQ+ individuals from a 2019 study:

  • LGBTQ+ adults disproportionately report experiences of discrimination including slurs (57%), microagressions (53%), and violence (51%)
  • 18% of LGBTQ+ adults avoided healthcare due to anticipated discrimination
  • 16% of LGBTQ+ adults reported actual discrimination in healthcare

In addition, LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide; gay men are at disproportionately high risk for HIV and other STIs; transgender individuals are at higher risk of physical violence toward them; and elderly LGBTQ+ patients regularly lack culturally competent care. And that’s just in the U.S. Globally, it can be a lot worse.

It goes a long way when people with privileged voices use them to advocate for the less fortunate and to create safe, welcoming spaces for those individuals. Share what you learn with others, educate family members, and just as importantly, take action.

What are some strategies clinicians and medical staff can follow to promote a positive and healthy environment for colleagues and patients who are LGBTQ?

I’m not a clinician, but speaking as a patient, small gestures go a long way.

When I walk into a doctor’s waiting room and see a rainbow sticker on the window, I feel welcome. When a medical assistant asks about my partner without assuming his gender, I feel understood. When my primary care physicians customize their clinical advice or diagnostic testing for me based on my unique risk factors as an LGBTQ+ individual, I feel celebrated.

You don’t have to make massive changes to make a massive difference.

Is there an important memory, anecdote, or experience as an LGBTQ individual or ally you’d like to share?

One of my proudest Aledade-associated LGBT memories was a panel discussion we hosted in the first year of the Pride affinity resource group (ARG) — when the ARG was just a few people. We had an all-hands meeting where we invited Erica Ashe, a transgender patient; Phil Rodgers, her primary care physician; and Alfreda Rooks, her care navigator to come speak to us about experiences of transgender patients with the healthcare system. The discussion was fantastic — you can hear an ACO Show podcast we recorded with them here.

Doug, far right, hosting a panel featuring Erica Ashe, a transgender patient; Phil Rodgers, her primary care physician; and Alfreda Rooks, her care navigator, for The ACO Show in 2019