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Pictured Above: Pride Flag. From https://www.phillymag.com/news/2017/06/08/philly-pride-flag-black-brown/

The last few months have been hard for everyone. COVID-19 has brought about the need for social distancing to decrease risk of spreading the disease, and we are witnessing the largest push in our nation’s history for police accountability. For those of us who already feel isolated because of our gender identity or sexuality, the stay-at-home orders can heighten the feelings of anxiety about being LGBTQ. For LGBTQ people of color, anxieties about violence are being exacerbated by recent protests regarding instances of police brutality.

However, this Pride month and every day as we continue to face this period of change we encourage you all to take a break from isolation and celebrate that we are part of a strong, supportive community. We are with you in Protest and we are with you in Pride. Let’s take a break from isolation and celebrate that we are part of a strong, supportive community.

What Is Pride Month?

We are fortunate to live in the year 2020. Yes, there are still challenges to being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, intersex, or queer, but we’ve come a long way since 1969, when it was a crime in 49 states to be queer.

On June 28, 1969, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York. This bar was a safe gathering space for LGBTQ folks, particularly transgender women. Police had regularly raided the bar before June 28, but this night was different.

Judy Garland, a queer icon, had passed away the previous week. There was a funeral procession for her on June 27, and mourners had gathered at the Stonewall Inn to show support for one another. Although there is no evidence the police planned to raid Stonewall on this specific night, the police interrupted the community’s moment of grief by arresting everyone at the bar. This action ignited a three-day standoff as thousands of people arrived to show their support for the LGBTQ community.

The next year, in June 1970, the riots were honored and commemorated, and thus Pride Month began.

Planned Parenthood Respects and Honors LGBTQ Access to Health Care

Planned Parenthood has many resources to support members of the queer community. We provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS testing and treatment. There is a stereotype that gay men are the only people who can contract HIV, but anyone who participates in unprotected sexual activity is at risk. Planned Parenthood offers HIV testing, and you can make an appointment online. If you feel you are at a high risk of getting HIV, there are preventive medications, like PrEP and PEP, to help lower, but not eliminate, your risk of contracting HIV.

Many people assume lesbians aren’t at risk for STDs because they don’t have a penis. This isn’t true. Anyone who participates in unprotected sexual activity is at risk for an STD.

Condoms are a common form of prevention for any type of sexual intercourse, regardless of someone’s sexuality. Condoms can be used on any phallic object, whether it’s a penis, a dildo, or a strap-on. Planned Parenthood provides condoms at its health centers. You can also get condoms at your local drugstore. If you’re too shy to buy condoms in person, you can order them online and have them delivered to your home.

Dental dams are a way to prevent transmitting or contracting an STD during oral sex, both on the vagina or the anus. Dental dams are made of latex or polyurethane. Unlike condoms, which are in the shape of a tube, dental dams are flat and can be placed on the vagina or anus. Dental dams are typically flavored, since they are used for oral sex. You can sometimes find dental dams at the drugstore, or you can buy them online. Worst-case scenario, you can use plastic wrap in place of a dental dam.

Fingering is another type of sexual activity. Some STDs, like HPV, herpes, and syphilis, can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. Latex or polyurethane gloves can be used to prevent the spread of STDs. They’re available in the health section of most stores near bandages and other first-aid supplies.

You don’t have to be hetero to get pregnant. If you’re a cisgender lesbian or an FTM individual, pregnancy can occur. Pregnancy testing is also available through Planned Parenthood. If the pregnancy is unwanted, Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood and Transgender-Specific Health Care

Transgender individuals need sexual health care as much as cisgender people do. These services include sexual health assessments, wellness exams, cervical cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and contraception (including methods to stop menstruation, if desired).

Planned Parenthood Arizona is working to provide hormone therapies for transgender patients. We have experienced some delays because of the hurdles caused by COVID-19, but we are committed to transgender health equity. In the meantime, we provide referrals to local practitioners for hormone treatments as well as surgery.

If you are looking for a list of trans-friendly doctors for basic health care in Southern Arizona, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA) is a great resource. They can provide referrals as well as support groups. The Phoenix Pride Center also provides similar resources for LGBTQ individuals living in the Valley. Anyone in Arizona can check out the Arizona Trans Youth & Parent Organization for further resources.

Homophobia, transphobia, racism, and the denial of bodily autonomy are inextricably linked. This Pride Month — and 365 days a year — we stand with LGBTQ+ people in protest against state-sanctioned threats to your health and lives. Planned Parenthood will continue to provide quality sexual health care resources to everyone who needs it. If you want to make an appointment, visit our website to find a health center near you.

 

Tags: HIV testing, LGBTQ, Prep, Stonewall, Abortion, anal sex, bisexual, cisgender, condom, covid-19, dental dams, gay, hormone replacement therapy, pride month, queer

About Serena Freewomyn

Serena Freewomyn is an alumnus of Arizona State University’s Women & Gender Studies Program. In addition to volunteering with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, Serena volunteers with Project Linus Tucson, where she makes and delivers blankets to children who are in the hospital or being removed from abusive households. When she's not busy making quilts or jewelry, Serena writes creative nonfiction and enjoys coffee, chocolate, and macaroons.