Dear Department of Medicine Community:
The current tradition of Pride Month, with attendant celebrations and parades, stands in stark contrast to its origin as the one year anniversary of The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969. What began as typical Saturday night revelry became a flashpoint in LGBTQIA+ resistance. As police raided The Stonewall Inn, a bar patronized by queer and trans people, people who were legally “criminals” because of their sexual orientation or choice of clothing, patrons fought back against police brutality. One year later, commemorative marches and protests sprang up in New York and across the US. Over time, these events of protest and resistance evolved to celebrations and parades, to proclaim the moniker of “Pride” as there was movement toward protection of queer people and their rights.
A common June image now is the Pride Parade, a joyful collective uplifting by LGBTQIA+ people of their communities and the rallying support of their allies; but let us not forget the origin of Pride. It is premature to let go of resistance and exclusively celebrate. In our country, in our state, around the world, LGBTQIA+ people are being targeted with regressive legislation that would criminalize the ability of healthcare workers to provide life saving care. LGBTQIA+ parents are at risk of losing their parental rights. Parents of Trans people are at risk of prosecution for seeking out gender affirming therapy for their children. In our exam rooms, we do not see Queer patients in proportion to their representation of the population as this community reports fear of rejection and stigma by the medical community.
To fulfill the Duke mission of advancing health together, there is a role for each of us at Duke Medicine to actively lift up our LGBTQIA+ colleagues and patients. Whether it is by wearing a rainbow pin, asking for pronouns, standardizing history taking to include gender and sexual orientation, or just simply using gender neutral language, let us also seek ways to support the work still to be done as we celebrate Pride Month.
Elizabeth K. Goacher, PA-C, MHS (she/her)
Director, PDC Advanced Practice Office
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine