MEDTalk Explores Diversity and LGBTQ+ Healthcare

By Allen Lin, Staff Writer-

The MEDTalk series, which stands for Mocs Explore Diversity, brought facilitated discussions among students and faculty over the history of the LGBTQ+ community and the challenges they have faced regarding discrimination and inequality in politics and in medicine.

Beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 2, the pre-health and history departments premiered the first of several MEDTalk events with Milestones in LGBTQ+ Healthcare History.

The event featured Dr. Will Kuby and Dr. Julia Cummiskey, both professors of history at UTC.

Kuby presented the AIDS pandemic in the United States and explained why many Americans perceived AIDS as a “gay disease”.

The cause was the culture and a lack of concern from people in power. For example, political figures like President Ronald Regan were silent about the pandemic because he didn’t want to alienate his religious followers that did not approve of the LGBTQ+ community.

Cummiskey focused on how homosexuality was perceived in medicine.

“Homosexuality was defined as pathology in medicine and was a diagnosis in DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders],” Cummiskey said. “And the feminist movement was the catalyst that encouraged the need for better equality and treatment of AIDS patients.”

Theresa Blackman hoped the series would have an impact on students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think it’s important the folks we send out into the world not only understand diversity but value it as a vital part of their patient care,” Blackman said. “So, we hope as people attend our events, they will leave with a desire to advocate for equity and equality in all areas of their lives.

Blackman, a pre-health professions advisor, explained the purpose of the MedTalk series. 

“This event is about exploring how healthcare and diversity interact,” Blackman said. “Everyone has different thoughts and experiences when it comes to seeking healthcare and I wanted to provide a space for folks to share their experiences as well as learn something new.

Each talk lasts one hour long and features speakers from various departments at UTC who want to be “active allies, stepping in not just to celebrate but to share the burden of advocating for change,” according to Blackman.

MEDTalk will have four more events, and students can register here.

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