HealthLink E-Summit: One Day Down, One to Go!

logoCorey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.


When the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee decided to host an online “E-Summit” to bring together people interested in LGBT health, we didn’t know if it would work… Mostly because we made the idea up! But we wanted our committee and staff to be able to interact with the community we serve, and since we couldn’t fly everyone to HealthLink’s sunny home in Florida, we thought we’d give it a try.

Yesterday, we had over a hundred registrants for a full afternoon of sessions, featuring many members of our Steering Committee, HealthLink’s staff, and even special guest Jessica Hyde from the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Over the course of the afternoon, we engaged in discussions on LGBT rights in healthcare, the disproportionate burden of cancer in LGBT communities, and the way that LGBT-based disparities interplay with disparities based on other aspects of people’s identities.

And it’s not over yet! Join us today (Friday) at 4:00pm Eastern for a fabulous presentation on LGBT tobacco disparities by no fewer than four members of our stellar Steering Committee and HealthLink’s Policy Manager, Juan Carlos Vega. This session, “We’re a Movement, Not a Market!,” is open to the public and is going to be an amazing way to cap off Day 2 of our events. HealthLink started as a tobacco control group, and even as we’ve grown and diversified to take on an array of LGBT health disparities, fighting tobacco remains at the heart of our mission. I’m sure the passion for positive change in our community will come across loud and clear this afternoon.

So, a big thank you to all who joined us yesterday and who will join us today. And a particularly big thank you to Jenna Wintemberg, a member of our Steering Committee and the co-chair of this event, for her many hours of hard work in putting this together. (You can even hear from Jenna at today’s tobacco session and thank her yourself!)

Oh – and if the work we’re doing is your kinda thing, you may be interested to know that we’re preparing to launch a brand-new membership program in the near future. You can sign up to learn more here.

Join Us for our LGBT Health E-Summit, October 15th and 16th


Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.

For the past few months, I have been working with our fabulous steering committee and staff to put together a two day virtual conference, or “E-Summit,” on LGBT health issues. I’m excited to invite you to join us this Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th of October. Once you have registered for the event, you’ll be able to jump onto the webinar during any of the sessions that interest you.

On Thursday 10/15, we will kick things off at 3:00pm Eastern Time with a session on LGBT rights in healthcare, followed by a session on LGBT cancer issues at 4:00pm Eastern and finally a session on intersectionality of identities and health disparities at 5:15pm Eastern. On Friday 10/16, we will finish up with a terrific session on tobacco use in LGBT communities at 4:00pm Eastern.

You can get all the details on these presentations by downloading the program, and you can register to participate here. All of these events are open to all.

By the way – if you like the work that HealthLink is doing, and want to be involved in events like this in the future, I have good news! We are in the process of launching a free membership program that will allow individuals interested in LGBT health to partner with us in exciting ways. You can sign up to learn more here.

I hope to “see” you this Thursday and Friday!

Benson & Hedges Targets LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico

Juan Carlos Photo


Juan Carlos Vega, MLS

Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, National Latino Alliance Pro Health Equity and the Network for LGBT Health Equity



This is bad! As health professionals, community prevention programs, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health strive to reduce tobacco use prevalence among island inhabitants, we have busted Benson & Hedges, twice, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual (LGBTT) communities in San Juan area’s LGBTT clubs. Cute girls, in tight outfits, look to scan your driver’s license in order to continue to help folks initiate or facilitate access to low price cigarettes. If you fill out the survey that they present at these bars and allow them to scan your id, you can purchase a pack of Benson & Hedges from the bar at a huge discount. No wonder LGBTT smoking prevalence is two to three times higher than that of the general population.

Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills

Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills

Twice, I have been with gay guys who are trying to quit smoking for health and financial reasons and they have been accosted by such tobacco industry tactics. One time, we bought the cigarettes, the second time we resisted. Yes, I was included. After nine years of being smoke free, I have become an occasional social smoker for the past 3-4 years. It is so nasty, the smoke inhalation, the after taste, yet, after a few drinks, I see myself taking a “hit” or two from my friends’ cigarettes. I don’t blame the industry for my personal unhealthy choices, but they sure don’t help us quit for good!  Access to cheap smokes at bars should not be allowed! 

Last weekend, was the second consecutive month, we have seen this predatory practice in our local LGBTT bars. It was contrasting to see as we were distributing promotional flyers for the  3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico, April 4th and 5th at the School of Nursing of the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, free of cost for the general public and $45.00 fee for Continuing Education for Physicians and Nurses. Against the luring of the tobacco industry to get us to smoke again, the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Healthefforts continue to fight the dangers of tobacco use with the support ofLegacy Foundation, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, theComprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico, and the local tobacco free coalition. For more information, on how tobacco affects the health of LGBTT communities, come to the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: Tendencies Towards Health EquityApril 4th and 5th in San Juan. Come by, our Summit is cheaper than the pack of cigarettes sold those nights and you will get great information, make new friends and learn how to take better care of yourselves!

spanish tobacco

Juan Carlos Vega shows a tobacco cessation material in Spanish “Tobacco is a murderer that does not discriminate”

National LGBT Cancer Network: Introducing Michael G. Bare, a one-of-a-kind Summit, and upcoming Collaborations.







Michael G. Bare, MPH
Program Coordinator
National LGBT Cancer Network 

Hello! My name is Michael, and I am Program Coordinator with the National LGBT Cancer Network,  and work with Liz Margolies. The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the lives of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk by educating the LGBT community about our increased cancer risks and the importance of screening and early detection; training health care providers to offer more culturally-competent, safe and welcoming care; and advocating for LGBT survivors in mainstream cancer organizations, the media and research. On our website you will also find cancer information, be able to create a personal cancer risk report, find LGBT friendly screening facilities and sign up for electronic reminders. We will be working with the Network for LGBT Health Equity to expand programming such as sharing current information, research, and policy about cancer in the LGBT communities, providing outreach, developing a Best Practices in LGBT Cancer document, develop and distribute state report cards on LGBT cancer services, expand our Take Care of That Body program, and developing collaborations to disseminate all these endeavors through social and traditional media networks. You can also keep up with us on our Facebook page for news and events related to LGBT cancer and relevant health issues.

In January the Network for LGBT Health Equity, the National LGBT Cancer Network, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Callen Lorde co-hosted a 2 day summit that brought over 60 experts (ranging from researchers, clinicians, policy makers, and those involved in LGBT cancer programs, to survivors and advocates) to discuss gaps, needs and action steps to improve issues across the cancer continuum for LGBT peoples; including cancer screening, treatment, outcomes, care and survivorship, alongside many other issues. From this work, we are in the process of writing an action plan for which we are very excited, and hopeful to see ways in which this will influence systemic changes to address the specific needs of cancer in LGBT communities. Following this summit we hosted a one-day educational conference for doctors, nurses and allied health professional to learn from the experts about the cancer disparities and needs of LGBT peoples. At this event we had over 60 attendees. These events are just the tip of the iceberg as to where we are headed!

Summit Attendees

Our Summit pariticpants: so excited by the work we’ve accomplished 🙂

I am excited to say that I will be blogging on topics related to cancer and other LGBT health issues for the Network for LGBT Health Equity. So look out for more to come!

We’re working toward a tobacco-free future for LGBT communities!

Here at the National LGBT Cancer Network Summit in NYC, we wanted to get in on the Surgeon General Report excitement! #SGR50photo

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It’s the relationships, stupid!

Brian Davis, Project Director
Freedom From Tobacco
Scholarship Blogger
Summit 2012 reflections



“It’s all about the relationships.”

— Bill Snook, City of Kansas City, MO, Health Department

In other words, “It’s the relationships, stupid!”  This theme came up for me repeatedly during the various sessions I attended at the LGBTQ Health Equity Summit in Kansas City on August 14th.  Ani Koch of the Rainbow Health Initiative in Minneapolis, speaking at the session where I also presented, talked about how everything they do starts with, and revolves around, building relationships with people in the broader LGBT community.  When another presenter asked how to get an LGBT health organization to stand up against tobacco use at the bar where they hold their events, a suggestion was to take them to coffee and build more of a connection than just email contact and phone calls directly about the work.

This raises the question for me of whether I am doing enough in my work to build these relationships.  I’m afraid that my answer is probably that I’m not, but that I want to.  Somehow it doesn’t get as prioritized as it should.  I wonder if I’m more the exception or the rule.

How do we shift our priorities so that we can meet our objectives by building relationships as a core part of our work?  Of course, the answer depends on what we mean by “building relationships.”  Ani described a process whereby their project eventually succeeded in getting a Pride event to go smoke-free.  It took several years beginning with a simple table at the event, followed the next year by a mention to the organizers that there was a lot of smoking, so could they go smoke-free?  The answer to that was no, but when asked if attendees could be surveyed on their attitudes about smoking at Pride, the answer was yes.  Then, armed with that data, they came back the next year with an offer of providing money for a special area devoted to exercise and other health related activities in exchange for limiting smoking areas.  The answer to that was yes, and eventually they turned their whole attitude around.

I think we all do, or try to do, some of that kind of thing, although it might be on a smaller scale with a shorter timeline for many of us.  Building relationships can be a broader concept too I think.  I’m going to put more thought into how I can build this theme into the work of my project more effectively.

A SHIFT happened in Minnesota

Brian Davis, Project Director of Freedom From Tobacco
Scholarship Blogger, Summit 2012 reflections
A SHIFT happened in Minnesota

What a great presentation yesterday at the LGBTQ Health Equity Summit from the inspired youth of SHIFT Minnesota!  SHIFT is run by and for LGBTQ youth, so they know that the best way to speak to other youth is through direct “not sugar coated” language (as one attendee put it).  Here’s their mission statement:

“SHIFT charges forth on our valiant steeds and molds healthier LGBTQ* communities by severing ties with corporate tobacco through education, advocacy, and power-punching policy. We work in solidarity with all marginalized communities to fight against the ruthless, manipulative corporate tobacco agenda in the Twin Cities area.”
Now that’s a mission statement!  The vision statement is even better.  It starts with “We need to be angry because corporate tobacco wants to kill us.”  You can find and enjoy the rest here:

Two things about their project really struck me.  First — the name, SHIFT, is brilliant.  It gets to the heart of what all of us are trying to do in Queer tobacco control, which is to create a shift of consciousness in our community away from the embracing of smoking as part of who we are — as one of a list of “freedoms” that we are grabbing for ourselves despite society’s condemnation — and toward an understanding that smoking is a symptom of homophobia that tobacco companies capitalize upon at our expense and exclusively for their gain.

Secondly, I noticed that they always put “corporate” and “tobacco” together.  This is similar to the way Native American tobacco control groups make a distinction between “commercial” and “sacred” tobacco.  Their objective in doing this, as they explained, is to make spaces tobacco-free but warm and inviting to smokers.  They want smokers to know that SHIFT is not about pushing people to quit, but about making people aware of what corporate tobacco is doing to our community.

Oh, and one more thing — they do a great job of creating artwork that gets the point across in a creative and fun way.