Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Bt BTL Staff
Barebacking, anal sex, safer sex and STD prevention for men and women, transgender health issues, anal cancer in men, and hepatitis. Phew! Sex can be downright scary for an LGBT person with all the risks and warnings about the many dangers that lurk out there in dating land. But fear not – there are lots resources that can help you feel more confident about how to protect yourself while exploring and enjoying your sexuality.
Two good local websites for HIV/AIDS information are http://www.aidspartnerhsip.org, sponsored by AIDS Partnership Michigan in Detroit and http://www.aidsprevention.org, sponsored by the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project in Ferndale. Both sites offer great prevention information, and local referrals and direct contact information for people living with AIDS in Michigan.
The Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York has a website in both English and Spanish with information and links about the latest news in HIV/AIDS research, at http://www.gmhc.org. Project Inform’s site at http://www.projectinform.org is another good HIV/AIDS info site, with referrals and treatment information.
The most comprehensive site is at http://www.cdc.gov, the site of the Centers for Disease Control. It is vast and has lots of information, and can at times be overwhelming. It’s for the seriously concerned researcher.
But you don’t have to be a genius to be smart out there. So make sure you know what’s up and how to stay safe with your partner.
Legal – Alcohol, tobacco, Valium, Viagra. All perfectly legal and all abused, particularly in the LGBT community. Smoking rates are twice as high amongst gay and bisexual men than the general population. More gays and lesbians die from tobacco and alcohol every year than die from AIDS.
Illegal – yes, they’re bad for you, yes, they’re dangerous and yes, they’re against the law. But there are lots of LGBT people that engage in recreational drug use. We advise strongly against experimentation with illegal drugs, but if you are going to take drugs, there are some things you need to know.
Cocaine (also known as Glow, Coke, Toot, C, Candy, Charlie and Snow) can be injected or smoked as “crack,” and the user feels a short-lived euphoric, energetic high. Research has shown a potentially dangerous interaction between cocaine and alcohol. It is note-worthy that the mixture of cocaine and alcohol is the most common two-drug combination that results in drug-related death.
Chrystal Meth is a highly addictive neurtoxin used a lot in the club scene. Some say it heightens their arousal, but in fact impotence is a common side effect. This drug affects the brain, damaging mood regulation, memory and reasoning ability.
Ecstasy (also know as MDMA, E, XTC, Adam) is another popular club drug. It gives a quick rush, but even with short-term use has been found to damage brain function. It also causes dehydration (remember that cute guy at the bar that kept drinking water?), nausea, anxiety and panic attacks.
Truth is nobody sets out to become a drug addict, but all mood-altering substances have a powerful and cunning ability to suck you into a downward spiral of addiction. Research has found that there is no discernable difference between legal and illegal drugs with respect to their ability to be addictive. It’s best to leave them all alone.
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol there are lots of places to get help. Here are some excellent local resources:
Together We Can is an LGBT Twelve Step Network in southeast Michigan. They have a conference coming up March 26-28 at the Troy Marriott, regular events and their website has information on many LGBT Alcoholics Anonymous groups. They are at http://www.twcdetroit.org. PFLAG Jackson sponsors a gay AA meeting, contact them at http://www.webspawner.com/users/pflagjacksonglbt. The Network in Grand Rapids has AA meetings, go to http://www.the-lgbt-network.org for specifics.
The Maplegrove Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in West Bloomfield is a nationally recognized program, with both in-patient and outpatient programs. It’s part of the Henry Ford Health System and is LGBT-friendly. They can be reached at (248) 661-6175. Also, the Butterfly Center, Sher McKinzie, Ph.D., LLP, in Redford specializes in substance abuse recovery at 313-533-1550
Two researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles recently studied possible root causes of mental disorders in LGBT people and found that discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGBT people. While the findings do not prove that discrimination causes mental health problems, they take a step toward demonstrating that the social stigma felt by LGBT people has important mental health consequences. That points to the need for tailored mental health treatment, in particular therapy that includes ongoing discussion of how discriminatory experiences may affect stress levels.
LGBT folks often need help sorting out the complexities of our lives. The good news is that there is lots of support available.
The GLBT Network of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation is a professional association of therapists and counselors who work with LGBT people. They also act as advocates for LGBT concerns within the mental health field.
Dr. Susan Flinders, a psychotherapist in Commerce Twp., is a member of the GLBT Network and helped organize a workshop in Oct. 2003 on LGBT parenting where they announced the American Psychoanalytic Association’s supportive position on LGBT parenting. The MPF is also supportive of LGBT parenting. Flinders says there are lots of LGBT-friendly therapists throughout Michigan, and that the professional community of therapists in Michigan is generally supportive of LGBT people. To contact the GLBT Network call 248-851-7739 or email: email@example.com.
The best resources to find a LGBT-friendly therapist is in Between The Lines every week or in the Michigan Pride Source Directory, published twice a year by the Pride Source Media Group. Pick up a copy or go online at https://www.pridesource.com. Affiramtions Lesbian/Gay Community Center in Ferndale now offers Physician’s Referral Services. Call them at 248-398-7105 or check out the website at http://www.goaffirmations.org.
People disagree about whether there are medical differences between LGBT people and heterosexuals, but what everyone agrees on is that many LGBT people do not feel comfortable coming out to their health care provider, so they avoid them – sometimes to the detriment of their well being.
Finding a LGBT-friendly doctor can make all the difference, and there are many references available in the Michigan Pride Source Directory and online at https://www.pridesource.com/gyp.shtml. If you like your doctor, but they just don’t get LGBT issues that are important to you, there is a great report you can share with them called “Creating a safe clinical environment for LGBT and Intersex patients.” You can download it from Gay and Lesbian Medical Association website at www.glma.org and give it to your doctor. It’s a great icebreaker! The GLMA is a national network of LGBT physicians and nurses that has been advocating for better understanding by doctors of their LGBT patients.
Another really good national site is at http://www.lgbthealthchannel.com, a project of the Fenway Community Health Center of Boston. It has excellent information on most health related issues affecting LGBT people, including alternative insemination. They also include a strong section on transgender health issues.
A great general site, particularly for gay men is at www.gayhealth.com. There is some cursory info for lesbians, but they mean well. The best site on the internet for lesbian health issues is the Mautner Project at http://www.mautnerproject.org. Their recent report on heart disease in lesbians reinforces the message that lesbians often do not go to the doctor until it is too late.
So get a good, receptive doctor who respects you and your family as you are. Then help them to understand you better by educating yourself and sharing the GLMA report with your medical professionals. You’ll feel better – which is the goal, right!
Spiritual health comes when you feel connected – to your own humanity and to the lives and spirits of people around you. It is the essence of who we are, and it is the place from which we all begin and end with each other. Caring for and nurturing our spiritual health is as important as feeding our body, yet in our hustle bustle lives sometimes we ignore our starvation for spiritual sustenance.
Mysterious, ethereal, mystical. For some, spiritual needs are met by churches, and the LGBT community has many from which to choose. There is the Metropolitan Community Church with several branches in Michigan, several LGBT-friendly synagogues and many mainstream churches that welcome LBGT people.
At http://www.planetout.com there are dozens of chat rooms for just about every faith – Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Islamic, Pagan and more. At http://www.spiritjourneys.com there is a wide selection of LGBT travel options for pilgrimages to sacred places, complete with guides and workshops. There is even a blog at http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/blog/ for writers on gay spirituality, religion and culture
For others, the search is more private. They may seek out readers, metaphysicists or spiritual guides. Massage, yoga, body work, meditation and other alternative quests can offer understanding, insight and peace. In his book, “Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness,” Toby Johnson argues that religion is undergoing a dramatic transformation in America and the rise of LGBT identity is an important part of this evolutionary development, both demonstrating it and helping to bring it about. LGBT people are pushing the envelope of spirituality – and bringing the rest of society with us.
Food & Fitness
Every since the first Olympic Games were held in ancient Greece, the gay male identity has been closely associated with the perfect physique. For lesbians, the muscle bound butch image has morphed into the sexy, athletic urbanites seen on “The L Word.” It’s getting warm outside and the pressure is on to look good and fit for the summer season.
There are lots of LGBT-friendly gyms in the area that welcome their large LGBT clienteles. Bally’s Network and Fitness USA Health Spas have multiple locations. Madison Athletic Club and personal trainers at Grunt, Bodymorph and Swi-tech all work with LGBT people who want to look the best they can. Of course, they can only help – you still have to do the reps!
Your body is a temple, right? – so don’t pollute it with junk food and poisons! Get healthy foods at Zerbos in Livonia, Whole Foods, Holiday Market in Royal Oak, Hillers, and the People’s Food Coop in Ann Arbor. Stay away from refined sugar, keep the carbs down, and drink lots of water – especially after you work out. Simple diets, steady workouts and consistent kindness to your body will pay off in the long run – in fact you may even been able to run further than you ever thought and you’ll feel great doing it.
Massage and body work can release tension and just feels great. Acupuncture, massage, rolfing, chiropractic work – each aligns the body and releases muscle pain with time honored techniques. Checkout the advertiser directory on page 22 for practitioners in each of these fields.
And while you’re not polluting with food, try to keep your air supply free of pathogens. Modern heating and cooling systems all have air cleaner and humidifying systems – a must in today’s urban air, moldy world, especially if you have any allergies. A&S Heating & Cooling in Rochester, Hinson Heating & Cooling in Royal Oak and Modern Mechanical in Ann Arbor are LGBT-friendly service providers who can install these affordable units right onto your existing furnace system.