This week, I wrote an article for Daily Life about my first Pap smear, which unfortunately was also my first experience of coming out to a doctor. The doctor was religious, and used his role to ‘educate’ me about the unhappiness and shame associated with being homosexual.
Since writing this piece, I have been saddened to read some comments that blame me for my naivety in not doing my research before going to this doctor. One particularly hurtful comment said that the fact that he was able to make me feel so ashamed suggests that I know there is something wrong with my sexuality. Both of these arguments are triggering, #victimblaming, and fairly disturbing.
In my case, I now know about websites like DocLIST, which help lesbian and bisexual women find supportive, understanding doctors. When I think back to my 2004 experience, I feel shame – even to this day – but I also feel anger. Why was this man able to talk to me like this? Why didn’t I feel able to stop him in the middle of his torrent of abusive words and tell him I was leaving? Why do doctors, especially male doctors, have so much power over young women?