LGBT Policy · Show Me MO

Missouri Case Study 4: Nudging Missouri Hospitals on LGBT Welcoming Policies

Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy for PROMOAndrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO

Building off of the work of Tracy McCreery, former Manager of Public Policy for PROMO, my name is Andrew Shaughnessy, current Manager of Public Policy. In the last installment of our Missouri Case study, Tracy observed firsthand the difficulty in getting Missouri-based hospitals, which clearly have LGBT friendly policies, to stand up as leaders in filling out the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). Don’t worry – this still remains the case for some hospitals – but we are seeing a positive shift from many of our targeted hospitals.

Going into this year, our work centered around hospital outreach and education around LGBT welcoming policies. We were interested to see how Senior-level Hospital Executives would react to our outreach efforts for the HEI and its welcoming policy requirements. Given the prior environmental circumstances we faced, we were pleasantly surprised by the reaction we have received thus far. From what we have heard back from our first round of outreach, we know that our work is affecting positive policy change for LGBT Missourians.

Several targeted hospitals, including two network wide hospitals, which will include 14 new hospitals to our original list, have committed to improving their LGBT welcoming policies. Out of the targeted 20 hospitals that PROMO had originally reached out to regarding HEI requirements, we have made contact with, and provide technical policy assistance to six. Three Senior-level Hospital Executives disclosed to us that our outreach efforts had ‘inspired’ them to take action and update their policies.

Now whether they chose to be recognized as ‘2014 Leaders’ will be the next challenge we face, however I can sleep easier knowing that this effort is working. Sometimes all hospitals simply need is a nudge from local LGBT organizations to start the process. Andrew Shaughnessy Manager of Public Policy, PROMO

Creating Change 2013 · Uncategorized

House Balls: Keeping LGBT community health in vogue

DMT headshot2
Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
Highlights of Creating Change: Ballroom 101!

Last year, The Network tabled at Creating Change, and while that provided a really great opportunity for me to talk to almost every person who attended the conference, I didn’t have much of a chance to attend sessions. This year, our tactic was different, and I found myself pouring over the conference book, completely overwhelmed by the diversity of sessions, and the fact that every single session I REALLY wanted to attend was at the exact same time as every OTHER session I REALLY wanted to attend.

Photo from Skillz Ball 2012 (photo credits go to The Rainbow Times)

“Ballroom 101: Calling All the Children to School” was one of the sessions that I instantly circled in my booklet. And then set like, three alarm reminders in my phone so I wouldn’t miss it. Since watching Paris is Burning a few years ago, I have been completely fascinated by Ballroom culture and it’s role in queer communities of color. Last July, the LifeSkills team at Fenway Health hosted a ball as a community outreach event to spread awareness about their study (for young trans women), other studies at Fenway, and the health services available at Fenway. The event was a HUGE success!

Commonly called “Drag Balls”, balls are competitive dance and performance events based on categories that highlight the talents, creativity, skills and attributes of participants.

Bursting into public consciousness between 1989 and 1991, the culture of drag balls and voguing can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century. Harlem’s Hamilton Lodge staged its first queer masquerade ball in 1869, and some 20 years later a medical student stumbled into another ball that was taking place in Walhalla Hall on the Lower East Side. He witnessed 500 same-sex male and female couples ‘waltzing sedately to the music of a good band’.

Balls however, are much more than just “events”. Balls represent cultural pride within queer communities of color. Balls are organized and hosted by the heads of “houses”, which are chosen-family kinship networks that provide both community (in the form of safety, stability, and sometimes housing) and mentorship to community members (and especially youth), not only for the balls, but for life as a queer person.

Legendary Rico Allure, Realness with a Twist, from

The Ballroom 101 session at Creating Change focused largely on the use of Balls to facilitate conversations about safer sex and HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s and early 90’s. I kept thinking about Lifeskills’ Skillz Ball and what an innovative throwback to public health outreach techniques used during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Outreach at Balls, which by definition are attended by traditionally disenfranchised and high risk communities, is the perfect opportunity for community engagement in public health campaigns.

While outreach at Balls has often been about sexual health and HIV (which is greatly needed and so, so important!), the expansion into other areas of health as well, such as tobacco use in LGBT communities, and healthcare access for those without insurance, could be seamlessly incorporated.

So much of creating healthy individuals and communities is about empowerment, and Balls, which have always represented safe spaces, free expression, acceptance, and creativity, are ideal opportunities for public health outreach and targeted health campaigns!


If you have not yet seen Paris is Burning, you can watch the full film here: (andddd you should get on that right away.)

Check out LifeSkills on facebook!

For more information on Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of NYC 1989-92 and Harlem’s Drag Ball History