Jenna and Andy, along with dozens more, are proud to have been volunteers at the Say It Loud celebration in Albany, NY. Say It Loud is actually a weekend observation of pride for LGBT People of Color, distinct from but kicking off the week long Albany Gay Pride event. Over three days, LGBT People of color, their friends and allies came together in unity to celebrate and recognize this vibrant community within the Capital region of New York State.

We hope, for this community that is historically estranged from their churches of origin, the presence of two ministers serving in very basic ways was at least a little healing.

Zeke (Ezekiel Zirbel Thiessen) is in some ways not much different than many other young twenty-somethings. In others, he is exceptional – although maybe I’m biased. Zeke was honored recently by the University YMCA (University of Minnesota) with the William Teeter Leadership Award. The award recognizes “a student leader who exemplifies the quiet, behind the scenes leadership qualities that focus on relationships and ensuring that the values and spirit of the UY are reflected in day-to-day activities.” Zeke participated in Y Buddies and was instrumental in organizing immersion experiences.

As a member of the Ministry Development Team, Zeke has brought much needed insight into what church is and what church does in the world. Zeke and many of his friends are Christian and, while they talk openly about their faith, they have little time for the church as it exists in this time and space. Rather than doctrine and orthodoxy, Zeke believes the measure of church is what it does in the world – specifically the relationships that are built and nurtured while actively being in the world. No fanfare – not needing to be constantly stroked – just being in God’s good creation with God’s children.

It strikes me that we all could stand deep discussion about what “BEing” church entails.

I met with my son the day after his graduation from college to discuss ministry development – more specifically, church revitalization. He has had no interest or involvement with church orthodoxy in it’s current “popular” state. However, he has remained deeply connected to the body of Christ, enlivening hope where he sees the opportunity through this connection. He continues to inspire the CWAC work area efforts as it’s youngest member.

Ezekiel graduated this May from the University of Minnesota with a degree in international business and finance with a minor in accounting (the latter being his move towards accommodating the current job market). I hear him say he sees the need to recognize people’s labor/handiwork as more than a commodity for trade. He has a sense for the global nature of community. And even more, Ezekiel values the worth of participating in community. With compassion and the sense of enjoyment, Ezekiel has been involved with the University YMCA since his arrival at the UofM.

We would like to invite you to bring New York LGBT Health Month to your community – whether it is in New York or not!!  (Why should New Yorkers have all the good health practices?) As you may already know, the National Coalition for LGBT Health has named March 28th-April 3rd, 2010 the 8th annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week

Rainbow Access Initiative is a member of the Healthcare Committee of the NYS LGBT Health & Human Services Network (coordinated through the Empire State Pride Agenda), and we know that our community’s health is too fabulous (and important) to fit into just one week!  So we’ve decided to declare March 2010 as the first annual New York LGBT Health Month.

Our theme this year is “31 Ways for 31 Days”…so throughout the month of March, leading up to National LGBT Health Awareness Week, we are encouraging LGBT New Yorkers and the organizations that serve them to educate, advocate and organize around LGBT health and wellness in all its various forms—physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional and social. We’d love it if all LGBT people everywhere would join us in considering March to be LGBT Health Month by implementing good health practices into their daily routines.

We at CWAC believe it is very difficult to have healthy spiritual practices if we do not take care of our physical being as well as we can, and also that it is tough to be physically healthy if we are spiritually hurting. So, following this article, you will find a series of daily posts reminding us that good health care runs the gamut from taking some very simple steps to some exceedingly important, complex ones. I hope you read them all in good physical, spiritual and emotional health.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.

 When people get less than 6 hours of sleep each night, their risk for developing certain diseases begins to increase. There are known benefits to getting enough sleep: it supports heart health, it reduces stress, it may help prevent cancer, keeps you more alert and may help strengthen memory, to name a few. Not getting enough can impair judgment, reaction time, vision, concentration, and short-term memory. So get a good night’s sleep!

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 Everyone deals with stress in their life. As LGBT people, there are aspects of our experience that can create more stress for us on a daily basis: homophobia, transphobia, discrimination, coming out. Find healthy ways to reduce stress: talk to a friend, go for a walk or bike ride, or engage yourself in a hobby you enjoy.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S. and the most common cause is the sun.  So, yes, even in March in New York, thinking about sun protection is important…because sunscreen isn’t just for the beach!  Whether you’re planning a trip to warmer climates or hitting the slopes, use it any time you are outside.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 Sharing needles spreads HIV and Hepatitis C; and dirty needles can cause other infections.  If you use needles for drugs, hormones or prescription medicines like insulin, make sure they’re new and/or clean.  Find an LGBT-friendly syringe exchange program in your area or a pharmacy in NY’s Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) where you can buy them.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.

 A 2007 study found that in NY State, 64% of LGBT High School students reported feeling unsafe in their schools.  Help make schools in your area safer by supporting LGBT youth and the agencies that serve them…and advocate for school change by supporting organizations like GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) and/or legislation to make LGBT students safe like the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 Many LGBT people report feelings of isolation—especially youth, seniors and those in rural communities. Connecting with other LGBT people, getting support and building community can be the foundation of a healthy life.  Seek out LGBT groups and organizations in your area—join a club/group or volunteer—and connect with other LGBT people in your area!

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 LGBT people are often the target of violence—from strangers and even at the hands of people we love and trust. Domestic Violence occurs in about 1 in 4 LGBT relationships. 20% of respondents in a recent study reported experiencing a sexual orientation based personal or property crime, and another recent report showed an increase of LGBTQ related sexual assault of 171%!! If you or anyone you know is dealing with any kind of violence, whether physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual, contact an LGBT-affirming anti-violence program in your community.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.

 Anyone can get HIV and other STDs, but LGBT individuals may be at increased risk. Gay and bisexual men of all races continue to be a risk group severely affected by HIV; transgender communities are estimated to have HIV infection rates ranging from 14 – 69%; and STDs such as herpes and Chlamydia are just as common among lesbians as other women. No sexual activity is 100% safe, but you can protect yourself if you’re sexually active by using protection properly and consistently, getting tested regularly for HIV and STDs, and communicating with your partner(s).

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.

 A 2000 survey reported that 70 percent of lesbians and 60 percent of gay men said they sought mental health counseling in some form.  It’s normal to feel “down” sometimes, but if those feelings persist or become too extreme, consider talking to a professional about it.  There are also free, anonymous depression screening tools available online like the one at www.depression-screening.org

LGBT people often do not receive proper mental health care. Providers often lack the basic knowledge of the mental health needs of LGBT people; they don’t understand the diversity of different populations within the LGBT communities, and they lack the ability to refer patients and clients to appropriate community resources and referrals.

For many years, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder and studies reported high rates of suicide suicide attempts among young people who identified as homosexual. Did the classification cause gay people to be depressed or did the depression result from the classification? Since the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder professionals have been able to address the issue of depression directly. Nonetheless, many still do not understand the situation. And there are still diagnoses listed in the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that apply to transgender persons. Mental disorders may cause limitations in one’s life, but they often are seen as a secondary problem. Our job, when dealing with the professionals, is to clarify the confusion and make it clear that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is not a ‘hook’ on which to hang mental health issues.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.  

 In a 2009 study, 60% of LGBT adults described faith as “very important” in their lives. However, many LGBT adults have a shared history of spiritual disillusionment due to discrimination at the hands of religious communities and leaders. If faith is part of what keeps you healthy, begin the process of reconnecting with your spirituality by seeking out an LGBT religious community or affirming congregation in your area.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

 Getting regular routine screenings for different kinds of cancers (breast, testicular, lung, cervical, ovarian, prostate, colorectal and skin) may help to find them early when treatment is most likely to work best. Routine screenings and exams are important for everyone, but many LGBT individuals may have increased risk for certain cancers and are often less likely and less able to access adequate health care. Learn more about the importance of routine screenings and early detection, and locate a health care facility near you that provides cancer screenings in a safe, LGBT-affirming environment.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.