On March 14, Niagara County Pride will host its first LGBTQ health fair. The event is an opportunity for individuals in Niagara County to learn about medical and health services from local providers who either offer services focused around the unique needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and/or who are affirming and supportive of LGBT patients and clients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The perspectives and needs of LGBT people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities. … In addition to considering the needs of LGBT people in programs designed to improve the health of entire communities, there is also a need for culturally competent medical care and prevention services that are specific to this population. Social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats. Members of the LGBT community are at increased risk for a number of health threats when compared to their heterosexual peers. Differences in sexual behavior account for some of these disparities, but others are associated with social and structural inequities, such as the stigma and discrimination that LGBT populations experience.”
In an effort to promote awareness of services and resources available to the LGBTQ community in Niagara County, as well as kick off National LGBT Health Awareness Week (last week of March), Niagara County Pride decided to host a health fair, centered on the idea of bringing local providers together with members of the community in one space, to share information and promote health and wellness.
“One of the greatest challenges our group members have repeatedly mentioned is the lack of resources in Niagara County when it comes to LGBTQ health providers,” said Ronald Piaseczny, group leader/facilitator of Niagara County Pride. “Some members have talked about negative experiences with doctors and medical professionals once they disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identification. This has led some to stop going to doctors or getting routine preventative care. We hope that this health fair gives those who identify as LGBTQ in Niagara County an opportunity to learn about what services are available, how to access them, and have a positive experience with medical providers.”
At the present time, the following providers/vendors will be present: Eastern Niagara Hospital, Gay and Lesbian Youth Services, Horizon Health Services, Independent Health, Mental Health Association of Niagara County, Niagara County Department of Health, Planned Parenthood and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
A press release further stated, “Over the past year, Niagara County Pride served as the only LGBT social organization for the entire county of Niagara. We have hosted several successful and free events, which have been open to all LGBTQ and allies community members in WNY, including a Pride summer picnic, an all-inclusive Thanksgiving dinner, and a ‘Cookies and Cocoa with Santa’ party. Our monthly meetings have served as an important community resource for individuals to be able to have a safe space and accepting place to meet one another, share our stories and build lasting connections.”
The LGBTQ Health Fair will run from 6:30-8:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 639 Main St., Niagara Falls. For more information and/or to be a vendor, contact Piaseczny via email at [email protected] or by phone at 716-228-2970.