Takeaways from It’s Ok to Not Be Ok: Part 2 – Health Policies

Content Warning: This video may not be suitable for young viewers as it is a frank discussion of healthcare issues within the LGBTQ+ community.

In October we hosted our community forum: It’s Ok to Not Be Ok. The discussion centered on health and health policy for the LGBT community in light of October being health awareness month. Syd Sennett, peer leader for NAGLY and board member of North Shore Pride, moderated the panel.

Important note: this panel is a part of North Shore Pride’s educational mission and any health concerns that you may personally have, you should always go talk with your doctor.


Because a lot of information was discussed during the event, we’ll break it up into four “takeaways” posts in the coming weeks.

Health Policies Takeaways from It’s Ok to Not Be Ok

What is the status of health policy for the LGBTQ plus community in the United States? What are some action items or things that we can do in our own community, either on the North Shore or in our own personal communities, to help with Health Policy? What are some things that we can do to kind of navigate health policy in this pandemic, specifically?

Adrian Shanker, Editor of Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health and Executive Director Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown, PA led this part of the discussion, explaining that there needs to be a “Medicare system for all” to guarantee accessible, affordable, affirming care.

“We have in this country, a model of health care that’s not healthcare, it’s health sales. It’s framed around access based on economic considerations. And we already know that leaves an enormous amount of people behind. For LGBTQ plus people to access quality care, we have to separate money from care so that care is just available.” – Adrian Shanker: Editor, Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health and Executive Director Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown, PA

After this discussion of the benefits of universal health care, the discussion turned towards health policies in regards to COVID-19. The panelists were all in favor of following the CDC guidelines for safety. Dr. Karen Vauter spoke about the importance of voting with your behavior and Coco Alinsug discussed how telling representatives your stories can have an affect on the creation and adjustments of existing healthcare policies.

“Doing telehealth sessions with either medical people or behavioral health people is another way to vote. Also, not only do you get the service, hopefully get the service that you need. But also it’s telling these insurance companies and governmental insurance sponsored places like Medicare and Medicaid, that this is important for our health and our behavioral health during this time.” – Dr. Karen Vautour (she/her): Clinical Director, North Shore Counseling Center, Beverly, MA


“Listen to the experts and keep wearing masks.” – Adrian Shanker


“It’s really important to share our stories. Because when we talk about policies, if you don’t share your stories, and don’t talk to your elected officials, nothing will happen. So it’s really important to know that they serve for us, you go to the statehouse, go to your city hall, and share your stories and and, and ask people around if they’re doing something for your story, which is vital for creating [policies] in the future,” – Coco Alinsug (he/him), Senior Outreach Manager of Fenway Community Health, Aids Action and the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center

It’s Ok to Not Be Ok was sponsored by Right at Home In Home Care and Dr. Helena Santos-Martins. Technical support was provided by Creative Collective and interpretive services by Partners Healthcare.

Panelists Included:

  • Myozen Joan Amaral: Founder and Guiding Teacher, Zen Center North Shore
  • Fonda Feeling: Aerialist and Burlesque Performer and Sex Educator with Good Vibrations, Cambridge and Brookline
  • Adrian Shanker: Editor, Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health and Executive Director Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown, PA
  • Dr. Karen Vautour: Clinical Director, North Shore Counseling Center, Beverly, MA
  • Constantino “Coco” Alinsug, Senior Outreach Manager of Fenway Community Health, Aids Action and the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center
  • Syd Sennett, Board Member, North Shore Pride, Inc. and Peer leader at NAGLY

Our next forum will be on December 3rd. 

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