Cultural health is an ally to personal health

This piece originally appeared in Annals of Gay Sexuality, co-written with Marcus Greatheart and Pan.” See sidebar for titles of posts.

We need each other now as much as ever. Thank you AIDS Inc. for the meds but clearly they’re not enough. Pharmaceuticals will never replace the need for chosen family. While the pills protect us and keep us alive, close friends and quality lovers guarantee our quality of life. This is not ingratitude; this is a renewed call for help. As a population, gay men are in a state of despair.1 Since 2007 our rates of suicide replaced HIV/AIDS as our leading cause of death.2 Crystal meth use and syphilis also demand our immediate attention. Our numbers in terms of anxiety, depression, suicidality, self-harm, and other mental health challenges are significantly higher than heterosexuals.3 We need help, and many existing services often fail us. Mainstream healthcare models created for heterosexuals don’t work for many gay men no matter how much we pretend they do. Many AIDS service organizations do not have the capacity to meet our needs today. We desperately need queer/trans healthcare reforms. Our healthcare processes depend on cultural frameworks that help us understand our bodies, our explorations into gender and sexualities, and our histories, as well as our inherent homo-value within our chosen responsibilities to community. Helping others means helping ourselves. We need to relearn how to become each other’s most effective allies.

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