"So, you have a girlfriend," my new doctor began. His back was to me. And I knew he had gotten to the part of the intake form that asked how I heard about his practice.
"But you heard about me through the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Do you identify as bisexual?" He finished asking.
"Yes, I do," I replied firmly but nervously. The doctor's reaction to my disclosure would determine if I'd be on the hunt for a new primary care doctor again.
The doctor nodded his head, back still to me, and jotted information down in the chart. The exam went about routinely and smoothly.
I still see the same doctor four years later. Unlike many 20-something men, I see my doctor annually for routine checkups. His reaction is neutral when I ask for an HIV test, adding other tests for sexually-transmitted infections. He asks nonjudgmentally about my sexual activity. We make jokes about ex-partners when the topic comes up.
I have learned that my ongoing experience with my doctor is unusual. First off, I actually came out to my provider and I made a point of doing. Yes, he may be registered with the GLMA, but there are still plenty of biphobicstraight, gay, and lesbian people, and it's not the "LGBT" Medical Association, it's the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Many bisexuals do not come out to their doctor for fear that they'll be judged, shamed, denied treatment, or have their bisexual identity erased.
Secondly, my doctorincludes STI and HIV testing as part of routine testing for his patients (well, at least for me). It may seem like he's assuming something about my sexual activity, but he always asks me first. Then, when I consent, he nods his head with a smile, like it's no big deal, which it isn't, and it shouldn't be. Many people who are sexually active don't know their HIV status, and unfortunately, many providers don't routinely include the test in their exams. Many men and women who don't disclose their bisexuality to their provider, or allow the provider to assume they are gay or straight, may be missing opportunities to provide complete and inclusive information regarding testing and prevention.
Thirdly, I am not poor. Twenty-five percent of bisexual men and 30 percent of bisexual women live in poverty, which is more than gay men, lesbians, and straight people, and therefore are less likely to have access to insurance. I am privileged in having access to private health insurance, which my employer pays into as well, giving me access to pretty much any doctor I choose, as long as I have the co-pay up-front, which many people do not have the luxury of affording.