A new study from the University of Michigan has found that simply overhearing the expression “that’s so gay” used to describe something in a disparaging way can have negative consequences for gay, lesbian, or bisexual students. Practically every college student interviewed for the study had heard “that’s so gay” at least once in the past year, with more than half hearing it with much more frequency. Those who heard it more frequently were more likely to report feelings of isolation, as well as negative health symptoms, such as headaches, poor appetite, or eating problems.
Study author Michael Woodford, assistant professor of social work at U-M, describes the results:
WOODFORD: Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, sexual minority students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and hearing “that’s so gay” may elevate such perceptions. “That’s so gay” conveys that there is something wrong with being gay. And, hearing such messages about one’s self can cause stress, which can manifest in headaches and other health concerns.
Woodford suggested that colleges must do more to address “low-level hostility,” which clearly still has a documentable impact on LGBT young people. The study is the latest in a series of studies in the past few years that show how LGBT health concerns among young people can be traced to bullying and stigma, not homosexuality itself, as conservatives constantly allege.
The Ad Council and GLSEN launched ThinkB4YouSpeak.com a few years ago to advocate against such negative rhetoric. Here is one of the campaign’s ads, featuring out comedian Wanda Sykes:
How many of us are guilty of this? How many of us are ashamed of this behavior? Don’t be! Educate yourself.
FIRSTHAND Andrew Walen, a recovering binge eater, now counsels others.
After downing 70 chicken wings in about an hour, Andrew Walen realized he had a problem.
Oh, he had known something was wrong over the years. Normal people don’t consume 4,500 calories worth of food in one sitting, or order takeout for four when dining alone. But it took a maniacal feeding frenzy for him to finally accept the reality: He was a binge eater, and he had absolutely no control around food.
“Ultimately, it was about numbing out and self-loathing,” said Mr. Walen, now 39 and a therapist in Columbia, Md. “There was this voice in my head that said, ‘You’re no good, worthless,’ and I turned to food.”
Mr. Walen is one of an estimated eight million men and women in the United States who struggle with binge eating, defined as consuming large amounts of food within a two-hour period at least twice a week without purging, accompanied by a sense of being out of control. Continue reading
Jim W. a phlebotomist at Magnet Health Center draws blood for HIV testing in San Francisco Calif. on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The center does testing for a variety of STDs free of charge although donations are accepted. Magnet expects to test 12,000 people for HIV in 2012. Photo: Alex Washburn / SF
Incredible advances in the treatment and prognosis of HIV infections mean that a diagnosis is no longer quite as terrible as it once was – and getting tested for it is far less fraught with dread than it was a decade or two ago.
But roughly 1 in 6 San Francisco residents who are HIV-positive doesn’t know it, and nationwide, the number is even higher – 1 in 5 Americans with HIV, or about 200,000 people, is unaware of the infection.
That’s bad news for those individuals who could be taking life-saving drugs to stall their infections. It’s bad news for their communities, too, because people with untreated HIV in their blood are much more likely to spread the virus than those who have the infection under control. Continue reading