LET’S GET A PHYSICAL
Given my previous difficulties finding a doctor, I only had one real requirement when I started searching for a new one: that he not be crazy. If he were gay, too, well, that’d be a nice bonus.
It’s not that I really care about a doctor’s sexuality, or that I feel some need to “keep it real” or “give back to the community”. It’s just that, coming off a doctor who told me, “The risk of HIV is zilch”, it’d be nice to have someone I felt comfortable discussing, you know, personal issues with, not to mention someone who has at least a loose grasp on reality.
Given that I live in Los Angeles, finding a gay doctor is just as easily done as said. Or so I thought. I mean, it’s not like you can ask. And I wouldn’t expect that most doctors would readily offer up information on their personal lives anyway. Drew raves about his gay doctor, but unfortunately, his doc doesn’t accept my insurance plan. So all I could do was open my provider’s directory, look for someone in my general vicinity and hope for the best. When I found a doctor whose name sounded exactly like a porn star’s, I figured he was as good a candidate as any. (For privacy reasons, I won’t give his name, but trust me, it’s hilarious.)
The health history questionnaire I was given while I waited for my appointment had at least 10 references to HIV, which was a refreshing change from Dr. Crazy, I guess, although it seemed a bit redundant. On one page, it’d say, “Have you ever tested positive for HIV?” Then, on the next page, it’d say, “Have you ever taken medication for HIV?” Then, “Okay, c’mon, let’s be honest here, are you HIV positive or what?” Maybe this guy was a little obsessive about this.
When I finally met him, I wasn’t sure what to think. He was very young — probably several years under 40 (and therefore, only a few years older than me) — and pretty darn adorable. He flipped through my paperwork, nodding at each HIV-negative response and tossing in a few new questions, too. We seemed to be dancing around the issue, until he asked, “So are you single?” Out came Drew’s name, and down came his guard. “As gay men,” he said, “it’s important that we get tested on a regular basis.” It was a totally gratuitous “we”, and it was followed by other gratuitous “we”s, when hepatitis and syphilis came up. By that point, I’d say, “we” were getting the message loud and clear.
Doctor Adorable seemed more comfortable after that, asking questions like, “So what do you and Drew like to do for fun?” as he poked around inside my ears and tested my reflexes with the little rubber hammer. I don’t think he outed himself because he wanted to “keep it real” or “give back to the community”. I think he just knew it would make things easier on both of us.
I was so focused on how having a gay doctor would make me more comfortable, I hadn’t thought about it from his perspective. I don’t know whether Dr. Adorable outs himself to his straight patients, but I’ll bet he doesn’t do it so readily. It’s probably a little awkward if your patient is straight to tell him that you’re gay and then grab his testicles. Me, I was flattered. And I guess a gay doctor probably feels like his obligatory safe sex lectures will seem less judgmental to gay patients than they might coming from a straight doctor. Or maybe he’s just heard about Dr. Crazy and the kinds of information he’s giving out.
I think I’m going to like Dr. Adorable, and not just because of the gay thing. More than anything, he seemed competent and knowledgeable and not crazy. I mean, that’s all that really matters, right?