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.

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.

 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.

 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.

 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.  

 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.

 Lesbian and bisexual women share a collection of risk factors that may increase their likelihood to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Some of these risks include: elevated levels of tobacco and alcohol use, higher rates of obesity, and never becoming pregnant or giving birth. Speak with your health care provider about your personalized risk for breast cancer, age-appropriate breast exams and mammograms, and learn how to perform self-exams.

And guys, don’t think you’re immune because of your gender – it’s rarer, but men get breast cancer as well.

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.

THOUGHTS FROM THE PARTICULAR ….

 We live and work in the reality of everyday struggle and celebration. Life on our street is in touch with people wondering how we will pay our bills, especially the utilities. We wonder if we can get employment before we fall too far behind in debt. Jobs are hard to find; even harder is keeping the car repaired. The on street parking is an altogether different challenge with every-other-day restrictions dedicated to the 9:00 o’clock hour. A lot of the time we spend our physical energy on transportation. Our homes belong to landlords many of whom are slow or even unresponsive to our requests, quite like the police when we call about an altercation. And the density of families and neighbors living close together brings relationship issues through the walls with easy flow to the street.

It might be easiest just to ignore the neighbors for pseudo privacy, a way to focus attention on my own issues. I may dress up and leave my street – get miles away – leaving the problems of the day behind for a moment, possibly to go worship. But more easily I can shut my door, turn up my noise and drown out the disappointments, fears of failure; my hopes exhausted just like my body by too much exercise in reaching for opportunities just beyond my grasp. (more…)

 Vaccinations are an important preventive health measure.  Talk to your healthcare provider about what vaccinations are best for you.  If you are a gay/bisexual man, you are at increased risk for both Hepatitis A; and all sexually active people are at risk for Hepatitis B.   Specifically talk to your healthcare provider about getting those vaccinations if you haven’t yet.

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 “Infections and Diseases”.

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

 LGBT youth face great challenges.  They are at greater risk for academic failure because schools are often unsafe. Lack of support often leads to feelings of isolation and depression; and LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide.  Offer support to local organizations that provide services to LGBT youth. Mentor and model a sensitive and encouraging approach with LGBT teens in your own life.  If you know an LGBTQ youth in need of help, connect them resources like The Trevor Project at 1-866-4UTREVOR or http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

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 “Suicide”.

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.

 Studies show 1 in 4 gay and lesbian adults have no health insurance (twice the rate of heterosexuals).  The rate is even higher for our trans sisters and brothers. Lack of health insurance should be a serious concern for all in the U.S., but even more so for LGBT.  Learn about the kinds of insurance that might available to you and those you love—and support and advocate for health coverage that includes LGBT people and their families.

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.

 This one is a no-brainer for anyone, but even more so for LGBTQ. Studies show that LGBT people are 40-70% more likely to smoke than non-LGBT people. This is one of the highest smoking rates—even compared to other disproportionately affected communities. LGBT-specific smoking cessation groups are increasingly available – find a group in your community to help you quit, or encourage and support loved ones in their efforts to quit.

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 tobacco use found under the category of “Infections and Diseases”.

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

 LGBT people come in all ages…and our community’s seniors are an important part of who we are, but services for them are often lacking. 

Around 75% of LGBT seniors live alone, compared to 33% of their straight neighbors. Unlike heterosexual elders, 4 out of 5 of whom have children, 90% of LGBT seniors have no children. When 40% of straight seniors have no life partner, that figure jumps to 80% for LGBT. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGBT seniors do not feel welcome at senior centers when they are open about their sexuality, and it becomes easy to see why senior LGBT health outcomes are so negatively affected by isolation and loneliness.

Find a group for LGBT seniors in your area or a program that serves them and donate your time, money and/or support.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. In particular, the tap for “Aging Issues” may be eye-opening.

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

Vitamins & minerals can impact many health issues. 

Especially with busy, active lifestyles, it can become easy to miss meals or lack balance in your diet. Stress, abundant for many people who are LGBTQ, saps the body of essential nutrients.

Pregnant women especially should take folic acid and iron as an important part of prenatal care.  Many lesbian & bisexual women today are deciding to become pregnant and start families.  If you are one of them, consider this tip for your health and the health of your baby.

Find and consult a LGBT-friendly pharmacist, nutritionist or other medical professional about your particular needs.

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

Regular doctors visits or the use of health screening clinics enable all of us to keep an eye on some significant markers of general health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S, and checking your cholesterol and blood pressure is an important part of your healthcare. Many cancers, e.g. colorectal, prostate and others, can be screened for by health care professionals. Get your levels of these and other important indicators checked regularly by an LGBT-friendly healthcare provider. 

Learn to understand what these levels are and how to manage them through diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication(s).

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.