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Scout, Ph.D. Headshot
Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. Headshot

Let's Focus on LGBT Wellness

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Debi Bishop via Getty Images
Debi Bishop via Getty Images

Hello! We are Liz and Scout, and we're excited to help announce the launch of HuffPost Gay Voices' new LGBT Wellness page.

Liz runs the National LGBT Cancer Network, and Scout directs CenterLink's Network for LGBT Health Equity. For years now, we have been passionately working to make a difference in the health of our communities. Recently, we've been frankly delighted as the world shifts its more traditional health talk on topics like doctors to a new vision of health, encompassing words like kale, bike lanes, and farmers' markets.

We're talking about LGBT wellness. Wellness is not just the absence of disease, like cancer, but something more complex that encompasses clean air, good prevention, good friends, good work, good workouts, good food and good sex! We wanted a place where we could talk about the fundamental building blocks of health that LGBT people use every day and figure out what this wellness revolution means for us.

So we approached Noah Michelson, the editor of HuffPost Gay Voices, to see if they'd add a new Wellness page to Gay Voices, and, to our delight, he eagerly said yes! Perhaps we shouldn't have been shocked, as the wave of wellness that has been rolling across the country was rolling through The Huffington Post's hallways too.

From now on Gay Voices' LGBT Wellness page will be the destination to catch great blog posts and news about what wellness means to our communities. There are many bloggers who already write about health; we hope they will join us in being regular contributors to this page. We will also write regularly ourselves; we're already trolling states across the country to find great stories to spotlight, like how the gay rodeo circuit is providing invaluable social support to its members, how one tiny nonprofit in Arizona is providing a national service for vulnerable trans youth, where to find an amazing model of community-wide cancer screenings, and how one bike ride spurred the head of the Ft. Lauderdale Pride Center to change his whole life.

The LGBT health story is one of remarkable challenges, but also remarkable resilience. After many of us experienced difficult childhoods, bullying and family rejection, most of us do survive. We find love despite the odds, and we form new, supportive social networks. We absolutely come away with scars, like higher smoking and cancer rates, higher HIV rates, greater social isolation and higher rates of mental health problems, but we have survived. How? All of our wellness steps are a story of our survival and, in many cases, a story of thriving.

No matter where we are in our lives, how healthy or not we are, each day we make choices that build up our health or strain it. Some of those choices are similar to everyone else's: how much real food we eat, how much we exercise, if we avoid tobacco. But the stressors that shape our lives make our landscape different, even for things that don't appear LGBT-related. For example, did you know LGBT people smoke cigarettes at rates 68-percent higher than the general population? That's LGBT stigma and discrimination stress playing itself out on parts of our health that we wouldn't guess. One size does not fit all for us. We need to begin spelling out the stories of how we survive, become healthier, and thrive in this world of stigma and adversity.

The LGBT communities contain a million stories of this adversity, and a million stories of amazing resilience and wellness. Let's give those stories of resilience a megaphone on this new Huffington Post page, and let us all be inspired to treat ourselves better every day. Let's start loudly cheering every step we take toward LGBT wellness!

To visit the new LGBT Wellness page, click here.

Have a story about LGBT wellness you want to share? Please contact us directly at scout@lgbtcenters.org or liz@cancer-network.org.