Corey Prachniak is an LGBT rights, HIV policy, and healthcare attorney. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Network for LGBT Health Equity and tweets @LGBTadvocacy.
This is a series of posts covering Corey’s work in Puerto Rico for the Salud LGBTT conference.
Now that the hundreds of us who participated in the Salud LGBTT summit in Puerto Rico last weekend have had a chance to return home and recuperate (and, in my case, pour on the aloe vera), I wanted to write a quick wrap-up on my experiences there.
In addition to the two days we spent talking about topics ranging from trans health to e-cigs, many of us spent time networking, developing collaborations, and making lasting friendships. People came from all over the island and the continental U.S. not only to share their experiences but also – and more importantly – to learn from the experiences of others.
Chances are that those of you reading this blog, like the attendees of the conference, come from all different backgrounds and specialties. Some are students, activists, lawyers, healthcare providers, community health workers, and academics. Some are focused on tobacco control, others on LGBT rights, and still others on healthcare disparities generally. And we each have different intersectionalities with respect to our own orientations, gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities, and social groups. In short, we each bring different things to the table, both personally and professionally.
Over the weekend, I had a realization that there is none among us who can “do it all” with respect to LGBT health. We can’t all prioritize everything or be experts on every topic. One prominent activist told me that she sometimes feels pressure to prioritize one sub-group within the LGBT community over another. But rather than despair at this truth, or just give in and pick favorites, she and I focused our discussion on how to create collaborations so that we’re all working together towards a common goal. By recognizing and using the expertise of others, we can focus on doing novel work ourselves.
So that was my lesson from the Salud LGBTT summit: to not reinvent the wheel trying to change the world alone, but to join forces with others to keep our wheels moving forward together. That means creating more opportunities like this amazing summit to gather and not just speak, but also listen.
Congratulations to Juan Carlos Vega and the entire board of Salud LGBTT for a successful and inspiring weekend! I look forward to seeing the attendees – and hopefully many new faces – next year.
To read more coverage of the Salud LGBTT summit, click here.