Graphic by UCLA Health
With LA Pride happening this weekend, it’s that time again to take a look at the event’s sponsors and how their sponsorship reflects their actions towards the LGBTQ+ community. Along with big names like Coca Cola, Amazon, and Google, this year, UCLA Health is one of the advocate sponsors for LA Pride 2022. Given the controversies with the former three, it’s exciting to see our university’s brand supporting the LGBTQ+ community this June, and by that I mean see what and how they are supporting us.
Historically, the institution of UCLA has been involved in a problematic and controversial history when it comes to the sociological and psychological sciences. Two examples of UCLA’s involvement are Harold Garfinkel’s interview accounts with intersex individuals in the 1960s, such as transgender icon Agnes, which was more recently documented in Chase Joynt’s film “Framing Agnes,” and its involvement in research and input for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for autistic individuals. This is relevant due to recent studies suggesting an overlap between neurodivergent communities and transgender or gender diverse identifications. Though these two instances cannot define the UCLA institution, it is always important to understand the fluidity and impact history has on individuals. UCLA has also had positive influence on LGBTQ+ communities, especially within HIV/AIDs research and UCLA’s Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE) Center dating back to the early 1980s.
Aside from the CARE Center, the UCLA Health LGBTQ Health Initiative was formed to create patient care programs and resources, promote LGBTQ+ health advocacy, advance UCLA LGBTQ+ research, and provide in-depth education on LGBTQ+ health care (source). Within the Initiative are the following programs: the CARE Center (as described above), LGBTQ Champions (consisting of physicians who are experienced with LGBTQ+ patients and have had specialized training), Gender Health Program (offering healthcare for transgender and gender diverse people), ENPWR (promoting mental health programs for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families), and the UCLA Vine St Clinic (researching behavioral and pharmacological treatments that target addiction, HIV and other infectious diseases in MSM, transgender and non-binary people). The initiative also provides resources for parents and caregivers of LGBTQ+ individuals as a way to extend care through empathy. Though the date when the program started cannot be currently found (the project altogether is new), the medicine and the doctors are not. The teams that make up the LGBTQ Champions are experts in their disciplines and it’s great to see that LGBTQ+ health is a focus for many of these doctors and that UCLA created a space for these medical practitioners and LGBTQ+ patients to meet together.
This year, the UCLA Health x Pride 2022 slogan is “Stand Up, Be Well, Be You” and hopes to share their resources, be a beacon for queer health and wellness communities, and embrace all identities under their Pride mission statement: “This year, UCLA Health is focusing on INCLUSION during Pride month. We pride ourselves on being an affirming member of the Los Angeles/SoCal community, both inside and outside of our clinical space. Our pride celebration will bring us together, celebrate our diversity of experience, and showcase LA’s fabulous queer community.” At the end of their promotional video, the phrase, “who you are is who we serve,” is stated, bringing together the idea that gender identity and sexuality should not bar you from receiving healthcare, which is ever important in today’s political climate.
Interview with Carl Barrett
I interviewed Carl Barrett (he/him), the program manager in the Real Estate Planning and Design Construction department at UCLA Health. We talked about UCLA Health’s new initiatives to be a visible part of the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ community through its services and growing locations.
Giulianna Vicente: What do you do at UCLA Health?
Carl Barrett: I oversee different smaller programs within our department and what we oversee. I manage the UCLA Medical Center Art program, … I run small construction projects, I do the triaging of all the new project requests. In the last year, I’ve gotten involved with the LGBTQ community within the health system, which is what brought me to my involvement with UCLA Health’s sponsorship this year for [LA] Pride 2022.
GV: Why do you feel it’s important for organizations like UCLA Health to be sponsoring LA Pride and Pride events in general?
CB: I feel it’s good for us to be able to share what our accomplishments are, what we do for everyone at every location within the LA area … UCLA Health over the years [has] been building clinics throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I’m really now helping to build our focus and push up towards the LGBTQ community as well. So I think it’s important for us to be out there and show what we also can do to help everyone. I mean, we have so many great programs — I’m still learning how many programs we actually have that are for our community … It’s really exciting for me to understand what we have here to offer to the community, and I’m excited to be out and help share that information … For example, I’ve been out in West Hollywood and say where I work, and everybody knows of UCLA Health, but nobody really knows what we do for the community. And so I wanna make sure that that happens.
GV: Do you mind sharing any insight on programs that UCLA Health will be talking about at LA Pride, or just in general?
CB: I can tell you this: Generally at Pride, it’s going to be our health and wellness outreach to the community. We will be sharing information on the clinics; where the clinics are, where our doctors are that are specific to our community, what our research is specific to our community. I know that we have great teams that have done a lot of really great work in HIV. We have really wonderful doctors that work in the trans community as well. We have a great support system and I don’t think that everybody in LA knows that, and it’s all right here in our backyard. So hopefully, we can help spread that word.
GV: What is UCLA Health doing at LA Pride in particular?
CB: I’ll give you a rundown. So our current involvement with LA Pride this year, and our sponsorship, is going to be a booth and information group at the LA Pride at the Park event on Saturday, June 10th. We’ll have a booth and we’ll have a bunch of giveaways. We’ll have a bunch of educational information about our health and wellness, and what we offer to the community. Sunday morning, we will have a small truck, we’ll have music, and we’ll have about a hundred marchers. We’re gonna be marching in the parade with a bunch of handouts, loud and proud, and with UCLA … it’s what we’re doing. Then I believe we are also going to be involved with the LA Pride in Hollywood Park event that’s happening after the parade … We should be at the Pride in the Park, we should be at LA Pride in the parade, and then after the parade.
GV: Does/Has UCLA Health worked with the LA LGBT Center (or other LGBTQ-focused organizations)?
CB: That’s a really good question because we have very little work with the Center. I’ve done other volunteer work with the Center as well, it’s a fantastic facility and I think that’s where we part of our collaboration with more and more groups within the Hollywood/West Hollywood area … that’s where we’re going. We’re focusing on one of our clinics in Hollywood, where we are going to be having four specific spaces within one of our current clinics that will be for our community and more … outreach specific to our community. We are currently looking for space inside West Hollywood for a new clinic for UCLA Health as well.
GV: What role do you think that Rainbow Capitalism has in healthcare? … How do you think doing events during pride and understanding the implications of having the rainbow worn by UCLA faculty helps? How do you think that impacts the [LGBTQ+] population and in general?
CB: We’ve had internal discussions of what we can do better and how we can do more. I know it’s been stated that throwing a rainbow flag on something doesn’t just make you an instant ally or a friend or a supporter, right? It really doesn’t and that’s a great question, and thank you for asking that because it makes me realize what I’ve been doing and what I’m trying to do is important because we are trying to make sure that our outreach starts in a positive manner; that it’s accepted by the community, and that the community sees our sincerity in reaching out and building this … We’ve been involved with a couple of marches and the parades. We’ve always done the research and we’ve always had the doctors to help in the community … If you look back over the years, and you can research our involvement with the AIDS crisis and new HIV drugs, … we’ve been involved with this, but it’s not very well known and we haven’t really shared that within the local LA community.
What we’re currently focusing on is getting more involved, sharing more information with the community, making it known what we have available for everyone out there. After that, it’s our clinic that we have already in Hollywood, converting a space in there that’s going to be specific to our community. And then our next step is going to be purchasing and creating a new clinic in West Hollywood … We’ll probably have one specifically in West Hollywood and then we’re going to have one more east closer to Hollywood or in Hollywood that will cover the valley area over there. We really wanna look at the community reaching out … through Hollywood, into Hollywood, West Hollywood, and have doctors and clinical space that’s out there where our community can come into [and] feel safe, recognize UCLA — that’s a name that’s renowned around the world — but also know the UCLA cares and the UCLA is there for them, and that’s our goal.
GV: How can our healthcare system improve its services for the LGBTQ populations?
CB: I think it’s educating, getting the information easy access. You know, a healthcare system for everyone is so important … So having that coverage, and then … getting it accessible close to people, that’s key.
GV: What does pride mean to you?
CB: It’s an evolving question I would have to say. Pride for me when I first came out was a fun crazy place to be safe. It was a place where I could run around, drink, party, hang out with my friends, be myself out … in public. I came out when I was in my late twenties, which was 30 years ago, a long time ago, and so things have definitely changed, and I think … looking at what pride means to me now, it’s still that safe haven. I really think it’s a great place for us all to come together. But I also love seeing how we’ve grown as a community to include everyone within the community, including families and all the letters in the LGBTQIA+: all of Us… I think that’s so different from what I saw when I first came out. When I first came out, it was a bunch of gay guys and drag queens, and now I love that we’re all celebrating together, and more and more. It’s really a unity of the community and being able to be ourselves, as well as educating those that you know that don’t understand the community.
GV: Anything else you want to share?
CB: I’m excited to share what we’re doing, I’m excited to get our name out in the community — hopefully, in a positive way, hopefully, in a way that people see that we are here to help and … that we do care. UCLA Health is a huge name and again I’m hoping that people don’t think, “Oh, it’s just another big company trying to show their support, or be an ally.” I’m almost getting to a point where I don’t like the word ally because I like action. I really hope to show that UCLA is showing action and not just showing that they are now.
Though this concludes what ended up being my interview and article for UCLA Health x LA Pride 2022, below I share my experience about the shortcomings leading to my interview with Carl Barrett.
Queer People Suck Too! My Feelings
Prior to my interview with Carl, I was supposed to interview Dr. Emery H. Chang (he/they), a queer internist. They seemed cool and accomplished and worked in our community, and this article was an opportunity for them to help show the importance of having queer doctors, especially queer doctors of color (plus, it’s free reassurance that your brand isn’t another rainbow capitalist — I see you UCLA Health with the rainbow background on your logo). But alas, my meeting with Dr. Chang was a disappointment.
As someone who aspires to be a doctor, and even just as a college student, let alone a pre-medicine student, I empathize with anyone who has had a bad day. But a bad day does not and cannot justify rudeness and apathy, especially within your own community. After inflexible scheduling, being denied a Zoom interview and closed captions, and being sent the wrong phone number, we finally got on a call. Dr. Chang immediately became annoyed at me, my anxiety, and this interview in its entirety. Despite my repeated flexibility during a busy midterm season, he interrogated my explanation for this article, asking why “he needed to do this.” I was yelled at for two minutes of the 2 minute and 43 second phone call, and the rest was nervously stuttering my questions, feeling myself become small and silenced — a feeling I haven’t felt since middle school.
After offering to reschedule, they said they would try to make time for me sometime that weekend, then admitted that he was only calling to tell me he was unavailable for our current meeting and knew from the moment he agreed to call me. I honestly have never felt more used in my life, and I’m a Latine woman living in Los Angeles. They purposefully and continuously disrespected me and my time.
What makes it worse for me is that he is queer and a person of color, only because it reminds me that queer people can suck. Multiply-marginalized queer people can suck. It’s unsettling to me that a person that I could have looked up to as I navigate pre-medicine and medical school acted this way. Having representation in medicine doesn’t equate to the quality of healthcare or compassion. This became a reminder for me that representation takes many forms and that I hope to be a more positive representation for my communities now and in my future. Despite the incredibly upsetting experience, I’d like to think that our brief conversation has encouraged me to be even kinder to friends, family, and people all around.
Join OutWrite Newsmagazine in Pride Village at Los Angeles Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 11th at Los Angeles State Historic Park. OutWrite will have a booth, so please come by; we will be selling our previous print editions, our Spring 2022 issue “Reflections of Radiance,” and exclusive merchandise designed by our team.