In 2019, it might be easy to assume that everybody has the confidence and the freedom to be their authentic selves. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For marginalized groups, like the LGBTQ+ community, being yourself can be a daunting challenge. Everyday tasks and interactions can be the cause of great anxiety in ways that no straight person might consider. That is why one Twitter user has taken to the internet to ask members of the LGBTQ+ community to shine a light on what issues they face day to day and perhaps help others recognize their struggles.
Twitter user @MarkPochow tweeted out: "LGBTQ folks what's one activity you dread that straight people don't stress about? Mine is going to the doctor. I just always feel judged."
The tweet instantly got a lot of attention, garnering hundreds of replies. A number of people seemed to share Mark's anxiety of visiting the doctor, with one user writing: "Having a straight doctor when I have to refill PreP, and he puts HIGH RISK in my notes."
For those who are unaware, PreP is an abbreviation for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a term typically referring to the use of antiviral drugs as a strategy to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Another Twitter user found visiting the doctor nerve-wracking, saying: "Doctors asking routine questions abt my sex life and having to ask for their definition of sex etc. to answer....havent had bad experiences, just gives me anxiety."
Although some users write that they haven't yet had a bad experience at the doctor's, some haven't been so lucky. One user replied:
"I once had a doctor explicitly tell me that "the homosexual lifestyle" is unhealthy and I should consider abstaining. I was much younger then and it really impacted me. It's one of the reasons I so passionately pushed for a conversion therapy ban in DE."
Another source of embarrassment for members of the LGBTQ+ community, more specifically gay and bisexual men, is their inability to donate blood. Unknown to many, gay and bisexual men are still not allowed to donate blood unless they haven't had sex in 12 months. This is a law that has lingered from the HIV crisis of the 1980s. Originally, a lifetime ban was imposed, prohibiting "men who have sex with men" from donating blood all together - a law which lasted up until as recently as 2011. This was later changed to a 12 month waiting period between sexual interactions, which it remains in the US. In the UK the law was changed again in 2017 to three months.
However, this law seems particularly outmoded because straight men are able to have unprotected sex with multiple partners and still donate blood whilst a gay or bisexual man can have safe sex with a long-term partner and still not be allowed to donate. One user voiced their concern, writing that "annual blood drives at school" gave him anxiety.
Tragically, one of the most common replies was simply showing affection to a partner.
One user replied that he dreads "holding hands or kissing goodbye in public".
Others spoke about the struggles they encounter when trying to book a holiday or a hotel room.
Some transgender users also spoke out about the daily struggles they faced, with one user writing: "Meeting new people and using my name (which is different from my birth name), especially when I have to correct pronouns."
Many users agreed that a lot of anxiety comes from the workplace, more commonly starting a new job.
Shockingly, one user replied that he felt anxious working as a teacher, writing:
"My biggest one is working with children. Which is the central part of my job as an educator. What if their parents are homophobic? There are plenty of people out there who still equate gay men to pedophiles."
This Twitter thread shows the sad reality of many of the struggles faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community every day. Here's to hoping that in the years to come these issues will be rubbed out of existence.