Tags Posts tagged with "LGBTQ community"

LGBTQ community

Recently, 1,150 members of the LGBTQ+ community participated in including Micah Schneider, from Ronkonkoma, above. Photo rom Lisa Czulinski

In a first of its kind survey of 1,150 members of the LGBTQ+ community on Long Island, Stony Brook Medicine found that people in this group struggle with numerous health care challenges.

Stony Brook Medicine’s Dr. Alison Eliscu was the principal investigator of the study that 1,150 members of the LGBTQ+ community recently participated in. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Over two in five people responding to an online survey between June and September of 2021 said they were in fair to poor mental health. Additionally, about one in three people had thoughts of self harm, while 23.9% had seriously considered suicide within the past three years.

People in the LGBTQ+ community are struggling with mental health and access to care, while they also have had negative experiences with health care providers, who may have been making incorrect assumptions about their lives or who haven’t respected them, said Dr. Allison Eliscu, principal investigator of the study and medical director of the Adolescent LGBTQ+ Care Program at Stony Brook Medicine.

Partnering with 30 Long Island-based community leaders and community organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Stony Brook Medicine created the survey to gather the kinds of data that could inform better health care decisions, could provide a baseline for understanding the needs of the LGBTQ+ community in the area, and could shed light on the disparity in health care for this community.

“The idea [for the survey] came out when we were creating the Edie Windsor Healthcare Center” in Hampton Bays, Eliscu said, which opened its doors in 2021 and is the first such center for the LGBTQ+ population on Long Island. “We were trying to think about what we want [the center] to provide and what does the community need.”

Without local data, it was difficult to understand what residents of Long Island, specifically, might need.

The data suggests a disparity between the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community in the area and the overall health of the population in the country. 

Over half of the people who took the survey indicated that they had symptoms of chronic depression, compared with 30.3% for the nation, based on a 2020 PRC National Health Survey. Additionally, 23.9% of the LGBTQ+ community described a typical day as “extremely or very stressful” compared with 16.1% for the nation.

To be sure, the national data sampling occurred just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in February of 2020, while the Stony Brook Medicine survey polled residents during the second year of COVID.

Nonetheless, Eliscu suggested that her anecdotal experience with her patients indicates that the LGBTQ+ community likely suffered even more during the pandemic, as some people lived at home with relatives who may not have been supportive or with whom they didn’t share their identity.

Additionally, the isolation removed some LGBTQ+ residents from an in-person support network.

Stony Brook Medicine has taken steps to provide specific services to residents who are LGBTQ+. People who are transitioning and have a cervix continue to need a pap smear.

Some members of the transgender community may not be comfortable going to a gynecologist’s office. Stony Brook Medicine has put in place extended hours to meet their needs.

Micah Schneider, a social worker who lives in Ronkonkoma, served as a survey participant and also as a guide for some of the wording in the survey.

Schneider, who identifies as nonbinary and transgender and prefers the pronoun “they,” said the survey can help people “recognize that we’re not alone.”

When Schneider was growing up, “I had a sense that I was the only person in the entire world dealing with this,” which included a struggle with identity and mental illness.

“We as a community have each other and we can lean on each other,” Schneider said.

As for medical providers, Schneider suggested that this kind of survey can alert these professionals to the need to honor names, pronouns and identities and not make blanket assumptions.

Despite some improvements, the local and national LGBTQ+ community remains at risk, Schneider said.

“There are any number of people who are actively considering suicide,” Schneider added. “It’s a very real crisis in our community.”

On a conference call announcing the results of the survey, Dr. Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health, described the survey, which Stony Brook plans to repeat in a couple of years, as “groundbreaking. What you have here is hard data based on the survey.”

Photo from LIGMC

The Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus (LIGMC) is celebrating Pride with a musical road trip – and you’re all invited to join them in traveling to “Destination – Anywhere!”

Featuring the works of Stephen Sondheim, Walt Whitman, John Denver, Peter Allen, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and more, LIGMC’s “Destination – Anywhere!” concerts are set for 8 p.m. on Friday, June 10 at Saint Francis Episcopal Church, 1692 Bellmore Ave., North Bellmore; 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, 380 Nicolls Road, Setauket/E. Setauket; and 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 12 Prospect St., Huntington. 

“LIGMC began our journey to ‘Destination – Anywhere!’ all the way back in the winter of 2020, so we are thrilled that our audience will at long last join us on this wonderful musical trip,” Bradley Meek, President of the LIGMC Board of Directors, said. “I am so proud of the hard work and dedication that LIGMC’s 17 members are dedicating to making this a concert season to remember and cherish.”

Upon its completion, the full trip will have included several musical pitstops. On April 2, LIGMC ventured into the wonderful world of drag at its sold-out “Broadway’s a Drag!” cabaret at Sayville VFW Post 433. On Saturday, June 4, LIGMC will be previewing selections from “Destination – Anywhere” at Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre as part of the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival’s arts pride event. And, after the season is complete, LIGMC is scheduled to sing the national anthem for the Long Island Ducks on Friday, July 22.

“It is always a joy to work with this dedicated, enthusiastic – and growing! – group of singers,” LIGMC Artistic Director Jeanette Cooper said. “Filled with musical twists and turns, ‘Destination – Anywhere’ is bound to have something for everyone. We hope to see you at an upcoming performance and look forward to celebrating Pride with you!”

Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase at the door or online at www.ligmc.org.

About the Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus (LIGMC)

The Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus is a voluntary, not-for-profit, community-based organization that provides diverse audiences with high-quality choral performances and musical experiences. LIGMC uses music to unite the LGBTQ community, fight prejudice and discrimination, affirm the contributions of the LGBTQ community to the region’s cultural life.