I am fairly new to Athens and moved here for work not knowing anyone in town. So far I am happy with the move, making friends, checking out the city and whatnot. My coworkers are great and have given me many helpful recommendations; however, there’s one area where I can’t really do that. So, I wanted to ask you instead. I am polyamorous and want to find a sex-positive primary care physician. Obviously, I need to be straightforward with my physician, but I could do without getting the hairy eyeball when I explain that I am not monogamous, even though I always practice safe sex with my partners. Of course, I need to check if a particular provider accepts my insurance, is accepting new patients, etc. but do you have any recommendations or can you point me in the direction of where to get them? Thanks, in advance!
Lots of love,
First off, welcome to Athens. I hope that you’re finding us to be as open-minded, accepting and crunchy as we like to think we are. We don’t always live up to our self-image, which is why I think you were very smart not to ask your coworkers about sex-positive doctors. I like to assume the best of people, but this is still the South, and this is still a right-to-work state where you can be fired for any reason. I’ve only ever been fired twice in my entire life, but they both happened in Athens, and both firings were because of issues that had absolutely nothing to do with my job. People can be awful!
I’m sure you’ve already found them, but there is a contingent of non-monogamous people here in Athens who meet up for socializing and general community-building, and there is a Google doc that lists doctors, therapists, and other medical professionals in the area whom the community deems sex-positive and poly-friendly. If you email me directly at the address below, I can privately share this document with you. The primary care physicians listed are Suzanne Lester and Melissa Martin. The former has an office in Normaltown and the latter is located on Tallassee Road right near the Loop. I strongly encourage you to call ahead of time and ask about insurance and rates so that there are no surprises at your first appointment.
Now, I’m sure there are people reading along who can’t begin to imagine why sex positivity would be a deciding factor for choosing a primary care physician. No one should walk into a doctor’s office and feel judged, especially when you’re paying ridiculous amounts just to get your foot in the door. Also, sex-negative attitudes have and will influence the type of care that a physician provides. This is the primary motivation behind consumers seeking out physicians who are sex-positive, and states like Washington and California have online directories maintained by private organizations to make finding sex-positive health care easier for those who require it. I know too many lesbians who have had birth control prescriptions forced onto them or gay men whose doctors assume that they cruise truck stops or that they must be HIV positive. It’s insulting and demeaning.
I remember going to my general practitioner when I was 16 years old, and my doctor insisted that I was pregnant. Spoiler alert: I definitely wasn’t, and I never have been. I was a queer teenager who had only ever kissed my girlfriend at that point, but he spoke over me at every turn. I didn’t want to come out to him, and I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t believe a Black teenage girl when she told him she’d never had sex (because we’re supposed to be slutty hottentots). He eventually pretended to believe me, but my paperwork showed that he’d performed a pregnancy test on me anyway. I don’t know if we ever got to the actual cause of why I was there. His shitty attitude lost him a customer, basically, and today I only see physicians who are young women, if I can manage it. I needed help, not judgment. Sex positivity is essential when it comes to quality health care.
Need advice? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, use the anonymous form at flagpole.com/getadvice, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.