Homonegativity within Medicine

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Summary

Physicians and other health care professionals have made strides in overcoming pervasive homonegative attitudes, but there continues to be room for improvement. Negative attitudes towards homosexuality affect our relationships with our colleagues, with our students, and with our patients. They limit our power to make much-needed changes in our offices, hospitals, educational institutions and communities. Discounting or minimizing the unique qualities and the unique needs of gay men and lesbians and their parents and their children keeps them from participating fully in the health care enterprise and perpetuates their isolation.

A retiring chairperson of internal medicine said recently that he had two regrets about his tenure as chair. He said he was sorry that his department had not sufficiently improved the care of patients at the local VA hospital and that they had neglected the medical needs of gay people: “It wasn’t that we thought ill of gays, we just didn’t think of them at all (Townsend et al., 1997). That is what stigmatization of some of us does to all of us.