As part of LGBT History Month, Texas A&M’s GLBT Resource Center is hosting a showing of “5B,” a documentary about the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and the medical staff in the first AIDS ward in the United States.
The screening will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Queen Theatre in Bryan. GLBT Resource Center coordinator Victoria Jackson said films like “5B” are essential to preserving LGBT history and giving voices to those who made a difference for the community.
“The impact of the doctors and nurses on the people they directly worked with is that they treated these patients like humans when others would not,” Jackson said. “They made decisions based on knowledge, not on fear and hate, which lead to the advancement in the treatments we have today.”
After Tuesday’s screening, a panel of health professionals from A&M will field questions and discuss LGBT health and wellness in light of this historical event. Panel member and clinical assistant professor Alison Pittman said she intends to address the specific healthcare needs of the LGBT population.
“We are seeing links to increased risk for some of those diseases because LGBT folks aren’t even seeking primary care and prevention because of the way they’ve been treated in the past,” Pittman said. “Everybody has to have good preventative health, and if you have someone who either doesn’t know how to give it to you or doesn’t treat you with respect, you’ve got to keep trying until you find one that does.”
While according to Pittman, some doctors still feel uncomfortable in their knowledge or communication with LGBT individuals, many providers, such as panel member and clinical assistant professor Matt Hoffman, are focused on making sure LGBT people feel welcome.
“The biggest thing that I do is provide a safe space for them to be able to share their health histories, their concerns about their health and anything along those lines,” Hoffman said. “By creating a stigma-free type of environment, it really allows them to open up and share information that is relevant to their health history that they might not otherwise disclose due to levels of discomfort or fear of persecution.”
As stated on their website, the GLBT Resource Center exists to provide a backbone to help LGBT students find out how to take care of themselves mentally, physically and emotionally and find a community, even after college.
“When students might graduate, it’s going to be really important for them to be able to tap into resources that are going to be available for them to help foster their overall well-being and acclimation to whatever region they are going to,” Hoffman said. “They’ll maybe want to be able to find out what the LGBT-friendly businesses are, just simple things like places to get a haircut because you don’t want to find negativity or oppression in those mundane types of environments that you have to go to.”
By screening “5B,” the GLBT Resource Center hopes to show what happened in the past. Thus, students can more fully understand the stigma that has surrounded HIV/AIDS and appreciate how far medicine has come.
“I was a kid when it [HIV/AIDS] really came to the forefront,” Pittman said. “When I watched the documentary, it really brought back a lot of what we saw on the news and what I would hear grown-ups talking about that was so full of fear and ostracising people when really we should have been reaching out and helping them. I hope that it brings to light a lot of the social issues and discrimination and risks that still exist today that we need to do a better job of preventing.”
Tuesday’s screening of “5B” is free, with popcorn provided. As seating for the event is limited, students are encouraged to RSVP online ahead of time.
Visit studentlife.tamu.edu/glbt/programs-events/ to find a list of all the events coming up for LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Week.