By Nina Hasen, Director, HIV and TB Programs, PSI
It’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month in many countries, and people are openly celebrating diverse gender and sexual identities, the right to love and marry as we choose and the joy that comes when we get to express our full selves. But in many places, LGBTQ+ people still live in secrecy and fear. We are far from a global consensus on what constitutes “normal” when it comes to sexuality and love.
If you live in a country where homosexuality is still seen as a sin or taboo, then Pride Month is not an opportunity for open celebration.
As an organization dedicated to advancing public health through consumers’ own power, PSI aims to ensure that ALL people get the health care they say they want and need. We can’t always change the national consensus when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, but we can work quietly and persistently to put power back into the hands of LGBTQ+ individuals. We do this by working with local LGTBQ+ networks, providing accurate information, access to condoms and lubricants, HIV testing – including self-testing – and one-on-one help to find supportive HIV treatment services for those who need it. Elsewhere, PSI networks’ social businesses, such as PSI Guatemala’s VIVE, supported Pride parties, parade and events, both with the VIVE product and with economic sponsorships – and all with the goal of positioning themselves as an LGBTQ+ ally.
We usually like to highlight a variety of examples of our work in consumer power on this blog, but this time, you’ll have to take my word for it. By keeping mum about some of our work with LGBTQ+ populations, we protect those programs where they are vulnerable so that we can continue to do this lifesaving work.
We look forward to the day when all of us in every country can openly celebrate Pride Month no matter what our particular sexual or gender orientation; when each of us can dance in the street in our rainbow outfits, delighting in being exactly who we are. And we look forward to the day when that pride is matched with quality healthcare for everyone, with each human being valued and precious exactly as they are. Until that day comes, PSI will keep working – openly where we can and discreetly where we cannot – to ensure that as many people as possible get the healthcare they need to live and fight another day.