Sunday, April 12, 2009

Do You Know Your Hospital’s Hospitality?

At 5:00 AM, I woke to find that Mike, my partner of 16 years, was not in bed. I heard a hard thump from upstairs, then another thump. Running to our kitchen, I found Mike on the floor, bleeding from several gashes in his head. Our kitchen drawer was open, its corner streaked with blood.

Mike—semi-conscious, mumbling—was in pain. I was in shock, scared that my partner—no, my husband!— might be seriously injured. I called 911. Everything became a blur until the EMT and police officers arrived. “Did you move him?” one officer asked sternly.

“Yes. I tried to get him onto a chair, or—”

“Never move people after they fall!” His voice rose angrily. “You could have paralyzed him!”
Now wide awake, I heard an EMT worker on his phone, saying they had “ruled out foul play.” Had they suspected Mike and I had fought and I struck him? The EMT man in charge glared at me. “We need to take him to the hospital.”

Mike, more coherent now, asked me to come in the ambulance. “Is that okay?” I asked. “Whatever! But you’re riding in the cab, not in back with him.”

Normally, if any jerk—especially a homophobe—treats me this way, I give him a piece of my mind. But Mike was now my main concern. I had to be cool. “I’ll follow behind in my car,” I told him. He nodded.

Following the ambulance, I wondered: Did Mike slip and fall? Had he suffered a stroke, a seizure, a heart attack? How would the hospital people treat me? Mike and I are not legally married in the state of Michigan.

I know friends of ours, also partners, one of whom was in a serious car accident. Worried that the hospital might deny him access to his partner, he told the staff that his partner was actually his brother! As long as the hospital believed his partner was “family,” they allowed him to be by his bedside, 24/7.

But the medics would probably tell the hospital that Mike and I weren’t brothers. That was obvious, from how I hovered over him while he lay on the kitchen floor. Too concerned to muster the energy to lie, I decided to tell the truth but play it cool.

They took Mike into Emergency. “I’m his partner,” I told the intake workers. They politely said I’d have to stay in the waiting room. Would they tell that to a spouse?
“Can’t I just be there while they admit him?”

“Standard procedure. We’ll let you know when you can see him. You can sit over there.”
Was this standard policy? Either way, I decided to stand near their desk, not letting them forget I was there.

I recalled the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk 2. In one scene, an older lesbian is in the hospital, but her partner is not allowed to be at her side—or even told when she dies—because she is not “a relative.”

Ultimately, they let me in. Now, what about the tech staff, nurses, and doctors? Should I hold Mike’s hand, kiss his head affectionately as I would do naturally? No, I’m ashamed to admit I acted like a straight man, afraid they would kick me out. But that went against every bone in my body.

I advise my clients, therapists in training, and readers of my books not to feel pressured to deny being gay. So how could I start denying being gay now? This was different: With Mike faced with real danger, I wanted to anticipate any problems and be at his side the entire time.

Given that the staff could make me wait in the lobby, you might think I did the right thing. Yes, Mike and I each carry a card, Notice to Emergency Medical Personnel, giving each other Durable Power of Attorney. Any hospital still could deny my rights. Sure, I could sue—later. But my concern was now.

The doctors and nurses were fine with my being there, asking the right professional questions: What medications was Mike taking? Who were his doctors? I was there to tell them.

At one point, a nurse handed me a Kleenex. I was too anxious to realize I was crying. After this, I let my guard down and held Mike’s hand, telling him everything would be all right. He squeezed mine back. People watched me wiping blood off his forehead and even kiss his face to reassure him.

As it turned out, Mike’s new blood-pressure medication had been too strong. When he stood up to go to the kitchen, his blood pressure dropped so much that he passed out! And that would be the story’s main lesson if gay couples, not legally married, were sure of their rights in the hospital.


34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many hospitals are gay friendly, even in Michigan. If concerned, call a hospital consider calling a patient advocate in advance and express your concerns. Your sexuality should not be a concern re: many health issues. Please do not confuse with HIPPA laws. Dedicated professionals will go out of their way to accomodate your needs.

Anonymous said...

Do you want special treatment or equal treatment?

If I am reading this correctly, you are asking for special but equal treatment.

As much as you would like ,you can't have it both ways. It is irrational.

Only women expect this, oh wait, you are confused and think you are women.

Never mind.

Diane said...

There are so many facets to this. The priority at the time was wanting to be with Mike and not wanting to do anything to impede that. Another facet is advocacy, always recognizing that your behavior impacts others' perceptions of gays and how those people may treat gays in the future. If you are out, you are always in that position, but sometimes a situation is such that you just have to take care of yourself and your loved one, and not worry about advocacy.

So where/when do we draw the advocacy line?

As a PFLAG mom and sister, I wonder how I will deal with things like this if they arise with my gay family members. Should they be in a medical situation where a decision must be made, I may be put in a position which would otherwise be intrusive. If my son has a medical crisis, his partner of many years should be the one to get information and make decisions, but I may be the one medical personnel want to deal with.

Our family is normally a very assertive and feisty group who strongly advocates for each other. When there is a medical crisis, we are already in emotional turmoil, and the situation puts us in a position where we are at the mercy of how others choose to use their power. We hope that medical personnel will be accommodating, but it would sure help if the legalities concerning these things were equal for all our members of our family.

Joe Kort said...

To: Anonymous who said...
Do you want special treatment or equal treatment?

I want equal treatment only. If a legal spouse were to wait out in the waiting room and that is the norm than that is all I expect.

If a spouse is not allowed to ride in the ambulance next to their partner than that is all I expect.

And I am not confused about being a woman. I know I am a man. A different kind of man..but still a man and not a woman.

Perhaps you are confuses as to what it means to be gay.

Thanks for your inputl.

Anonymous said...

This stresses the importance of making your wishes known in writing. It the only legal protection same-sex and other non-tradtional (long-term unmarried heterosexual or "common law") couples have.

Jenna said...

Joe,

I read your newsletters every time I receive them. As a psychologist, and a lesbian, I am often inspired by what you have to say.

Regarding this story: wow, thanks for sharing. My partner and I live in Florida, which is not much better than Michigan when it comes to EQUAL rights (not special rights). We want to start a family soon, so we recently hired a lawyer to get all the "necessary" documents. I know what you meant when you wrote something like, "going against every bone in your body." This lawyer, mind you a gay man, instructed my partner and I to "not talk with others about the true nature of our relationship." That was a hard pill to swallow, seeing as I have studied the mental health benefits of being out. What was explained to me further was that in order to protect my family according to Florida law, I should not be out to others, even friends. I don't think that is a possibility for me. Hopefully in our lifetime you and I will not have to think twice about sharing the "true nature" of our relationships, whether in a hospital, the law, or friends.

Anonymous said...

It seems there are 2 issues, the ambulance and the hospital.

Addressing the ambulance.

Can anyone comment on what the policy would be for the ambulance ompany for a circumstance like this, where it is unknown if an injury was inflicted by the party that would be riding with the patient?

Regardless of the relationship, brother/sister, boss, etc. if the driver came to the scene and was unsure as to whether the patient would be in danger in any way with the person riding with the patient, wouldn't it be reasonable for the driver to tell the other party, you can't ride with the patient?

Why assume it is because they thought they were having sex, and not simply a safety issue in a potentially life threatening situation?

Paranoid are we?

Kim R said...

Thank you, Joe, for being,once again, a force for humane equality in our world.
I believe it is sad and disturbing that some partners in this country need to know and research whether the hospital they might need to go to in an emergency is going to respect their intimate relationship.
I also love your working through this experience in part by sharing; and sharing in a vulnerable, honest way. Of course you felt you had to choose between Mike's wellbeing and gay rights advocacy. And I hope for a day when that doesn't have to be even a thought! Best to you, Kim R

Peter said...

Joe, when I read your moving story, I'd suggest you and your partner move to Canada. Mike got sick in the wrong state. The more I think and read about it, you clearly have too much work educating moronic bigots in your country. To the respondant who wrote... 'do you want special treatment or equal treatment?' When a human experiences pain - we instinctively extend our support and compassion; first and foremost. Don't think about it, intuitively we draw upon a basic human quality: compassion. Who does not want special treatment - especially if they have been denied equal treatment.
These are vey difficult times - especially in your country. Your war-torn country is in a state of trauma - compassion for one another is very much needed.
Joe you handled this crisis well. I can't help but wonder how a young gay man or lesbian would fare in a similar situation. The road to equality and 'equal treatment' has just begun. By letting bigotry persist - we propagate intolerance toward future generations of gay people.
Keep up the good work and battle intolerance, bigotry and hatred every step of the way - regardless of where you live.

Anonymous said...

As an Emergency Room Nurse, I would recommend that if one is not allowed to see their partner while at the hospital, they should request to talk to the Administrator, or to Guest Relations. If it is after hours, then ask to talk to the House Supervisor. Just remember to be polite to the hospital staff, for we (they) deal with alot of jerks that present to the hospital with unreal expectations.

Anonymous said...

I was in the same situation about 17 years ago, when I was sent to the Emergency Room at Danbury Hospital in working class part of suburban Connecticut. My partner was away from home, when I had to be rushed there due to a gall bladder infection. I was alone in the ambulance, but Hugh found out where I was through our landlord and came up to the Emergency Room and was immediately admitted because . . . he's a doctor. All he had to do was say that he was my doctor, and like magic, he got complete access. This of course made me wonder, immediately, what do other couples do, who aren't docs? And it made me see how important these rights are: they are life-and-death important.

Some hospitals do have patient advocates, but the chances of finding one of these at 2 AM in the Emergency Room are very, very slim. And I agree with Joe's snap decision about playing straight: in some situations, you are only handing some shithead a loaded weapon aimed at your head that they can use by your coming out. This is an unfortunate fact of life, and it's hard to say when those situations can arise. For instance, you can go to an E.R. in a Catholic hospital and be treated wonderfully, but go to one in an inner city hospital where people might be more narrow-minded than they would be in, say, a more expensive, upper class suburban hospital, such as Northern Westchester Medical Center, in very tony, very horsey, Westchester County, where I was rushed after I broke my wrist rollerblading at age 42. From the moment I was admitted, no one questioned Hugh's role in my life, the only thing they questioned was whether I could pay for the place, and once that was settled with my insurance company, we were given no grief at all.

Perry Brass, author of Carnal Sacraments, A Historical Novel of the Future.

Sean said...

Joe,

First of all, I'm so glad to hear that you're both ok.

I had a similar experience. Last October, my partner at the time was living in OH and I was in CA. He tried to kill himself. I started piecing it together out from some clues over here and started making some calls. I called the local police department in OH and told the dispatcher I was very concerned about some ominous messages I received from my partner. She asked me for the address which I gave her, then she said, "Well we did have a call there today. Are you family?"

"I'm his partner," I replied.

"That's not family," she said. At that point, my concern had turned into pure panic. I broke down and started sobbing on the phone feeling more powerless than I've ever felt in my life. I didn't know if he was alive or dead. She finally sighed and said, "Look, he's still alive ok? But I can't tell you anything else. You'll need to speak to someone in his family."

So I would submit to your anonymous troll poster who thinks you want special treatment: Is it special treatment to be able to be considered family and be given the same rights as family would have? His mother who kicked him out of the house at 14 or his dad who abandoned him at birth have more rights than the man who he chose to spend his life with. Does that seem "special" to you, oh brave anonymous one?

Rob said...

Thank you Joe for your story.

Being a gay male and a nurse I see people at their best and worst. Hospitals are supposed to respect the medical and durable power of attorney papers but in emergency situations people don't usually have them with them and that is where gay people can run into problems. A hospital can not refuse a patients right on who they want to be with them as an advocate around the clock - you may not be able to stay in the room if it is not private but you will be able to stay in the waiting area and most nurses I know are willing to keep you updated. Let's keep hoping for equal rights!

MikeO said...

Joe, You did a great job taking care of your loved one. I am sure Mike was very comforted knowing you were there. As an ER social worker and gay man, I always have my radar out for "family" and yes our special needs. Every ER patient has special needs. I work in the south and I am proud to say that I have yet to witness bias treatment to gay/lesbian couples. We have the same long waits and harried doctors and nurses but I am quite impressed with the compassion I witness daily. As for the poster who tried the double whammy of homophobia and misogny, I can only say that as a gay man who has built my own house, uses a chain saw on a regular basis etc, I am only proud when someone compares me to a woman. This is so far from an insult! I am a gay man who loves and respects my sisters. Joe do not beat yourself up for being human!

Ken said...

Mike, I I'm not for gay marriage and I'm an out queer man. I'm for equal protection under the law and that includes partnerships. I'm all for civil unions that recognize all of the rights of traditional married couples. Why coop into an institution where over 60% become divorced. We are now even seeing the divorces occurring from legally married gay/lesbian couples. It doesn't work for the hetero population. Why do you need it or want it? All our rights could easily be given if "civil unions" were fully equipped with all the rights of "legally married" couples.

Congratulations on being who you are, Mike!

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous one who cannot reveal myself because you are vicious, and yo uwill seek me out and harm me and my family.

Here is the problem:

You are demand fairness and what is right, but you are unwilling to accept what has been traditionally defined as right, let's begin with the most basic definiton of all of society, what is a family?

A family is one man and one one woman who commit to each other exclusively.

You want to declare that it is wrong for an ambulance driver to allow a parther in the back of the ambulance, which his patient, because "obviously" the driver was homophobic.

Was there any consideration for the rules this ambulance driver might need to comply with, or was the point of this to simply point out how thois this partner was so wronged by someone, who could not be anything other than a homophobe.

You identify people who hold to tradition, and God forbid more than that, homophobic, or worse, and it is because these people accept that God spoke to us through a man, Moses, standards and absolute right and wrong, for this the creator's creation.

You speak of love, yet you dismiss, at the least and more likely reject that the creator had in mind what is best for the creation.

The creator demostrated love beyond compare to communicate these things.

When your parent discipline you, do you reject it because it is not what you want?

Is it not love, just because it is not what you want, according to your defnition of love?

homosexual marriage is an oxymoron
gay rights is an oxymoron

It doesn't matter if you accept or don't accept what is true.

truth is truth redgardless of you.

Gary said...

I'm so sorry that you and Mike had to go through that experience. It's difficult enough dealing with the medical crisis, but dealing with the emotional part of it combined with the realization that you're without any legal right at all, is horrible beyond description.

I went through something similar with my partner Michael in 1996. We too chose the facade of being brothers to get around the hospital's policies, it didn't feel comfortable to us but we knew we really didn't have another choice. Very sadly Michael didn't make it, he had a fatal heart attack while in the hospital and was gone less than 12 hours after going in. Shortly after he passed away, while in a state of pure shock, I told the people at the hospital that Michael was really my partner of thirteen years. I told this to a social worker who was sympathetic, as were two hospital chaplains, one of whom was gay, but not able to be out at work. The social worker was apologetic as she told me that it would need to be Michael's family who could only make the decisions from here on out, I understood this and was grateful for her empathy, but it still hurt. They couldn't even remove the breathing tube in him which I asked them to remove before his mother and sister arrived from out of town. I didn't want them to see Michael that way, I didn't want to see him that way either. The nursing staff was supportive as well, although others on the medical staff seemed to come by to gawk at us after word had gotten out about the hoax. I simply needed some alone time with Michael and a chance to get my bearings while waiting for his family to arrive, I found those intrusions, to just have a look at us, pretty insensitive and very disrespectful.

Michael's family arrived and all the things at the hospital got taken care of. We then proceeded to make funeral arrangements and went through that process with a lot of emotion, but without too much disagreement as to how it should be for Michael.

Unfortunately things didn't stay harmonious for too long after this. Michael's family felt they were entitled to most of the posessions that he and I had acquired as a couple, they looked at those things as his and therefore theirs because I was not really a member of their family. One night returning home from work I found our place almost empty; most of the furnishings and nearly all of the personal items in the house were gone. At first I thought it was a burglery until I realized that our pet cat and the urn containing Michael's ashes were also gone, I went numb.

It took over a year to resolve things with the police, the prosecutors office and my home owners insurance company. I received financial compensation for everything I could prove I had ownership of, but never received anything back or was compensated for anything which I couldn't prove was mine alone. I still don't know where Michael's ashes are and our pet cat was never returned. The emotional toll of all the losses during that time, Micheal most of all, are something I've never gotten over, every aspect of my life was affected.

If Michael and I had been able to marry, to have a legally recognized partnership, much of what happened to us could have been avoided. It angers and saddens me that gay couples still experience these things and that you and your partner Mike had to go through your experience.

Joe, thanks for giving your voice to the important issue of equal rights and fair treatment and for doing it in such a personal way. Being treated equally not`only benefits gay people, but benefits all people. No one is free when others are oppressed.

Michael said...

To the fearful anonymous one: Apparently you live in a tragic myopic box. You have no business judging who or what makes up someone's family. You certainly can define your own family per whatever your right-wing Christian beliefs may be. Religion can be a very special thing, but when you use it to mask your hatred of gays, it's just wrong. You are neither Christian nor right. Wake up.

Sean said...

Anonymous,

Like Jesus would have, I have compassion for you. How terrible it must be to fear normal human beings going through normal life. How terrible a disconnect it must be to model your life after a man and a religion and yet be unable to have compassion, love, and understanding for everyone as he did.

Wherever you are getting the idea that we're all out to harm you and your families? Um... I'd find the channel changer every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I'm a married man with a family who is currently struggling with my own sexuality issues. I think it's sad that you can't be with your life partner regardless if it is a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. My wife almost died from what was supposed to be a fairly routine surgery a few years ago and I can't imagine not being there. On that same note, I think it would have caused me some discomfort to see you holding his hand and kissing him. That's clearly my shortcomings and I'm working on that. I'm just thankful Mike is o.k. and that you have each other regardless of your sex.

Anonymous said...

So , Michael, I have not right to uphold the definition of marriage, but you have the right to undefine it.

You are irrational.

The originator of this blog, in your world, had the "right" to throw the driver of the ambulance out of the driver's seat and drive the ambulance.

His "right" was the only "right" at that moment.

Do you people have brains, or just agendas?

Sir said...

In all cases no one can ride with a loved one in an ambulance. That is a safty issue for the medical team and patient. Most hospitals will allow even a close friend to follow a patient right into treatment unless sterilization becomes necessary. The key point that gay couples have to be weary about are the power of attorney issues. Legal issues, that are automatically granted to legal spouses. I am glad that Joe and Mike have cards in their wallets. An indication that the appropriate paperwork can be found to match their powers of attorney. This might also be listed with their HMO, and also the hospital of choice.

Joe Kort said...

These are great responses. I really appreciate hearing people's personal stories.

To Annonymous who called me Paranoid I want to tell you that YES I am very paranoid.

I am paranoid because without legal ties to my partner and without legisltation protecting my rights I am vulnerable and at risk to whatever anti-gay behavior is done to me.

And I do have a gay agenda why pretend not to have one. I am gay and I want to have equal rights with straights and that is my gay agenda.

When I walk for breast cancer I have a woman's agenda. I want women to be healthy and live long lives.

When I walk for Israel I have a Jewish agenda. As a Jew I want my holy land to stay safe.

And I had no idea whether my being banned from inside the ambulance was anti-gay or the rules. I also did not know if not being allowed in the ER with Mike immediately was anti-gay or not.

Without legal rights I am constantly hypervigalent about what is happening to me especially when it is a new and foreigh situation and I am panicking as I did when my partner was on the floor bleeding.

And finally Annonymous who talked of Moses and religion, I smile when I think of your unwillingness to share your real name. I get many emails from cowards like yourself who tell me I am wrong and that G-d is against me and when I try to respond it is a bogus email becuase they are too afraid to be out and open with their hate.

It reminds me of all those who financially supported Prop 8 in CA whose names were exposed since it was public record. They were mortified.

If you are going to hate with your words and money then be out with it and put it next to your name. Don't be a coward.

I also know that arguing with you over what you believe is pointless. I learned that many years ago from those clutching their bibles telling me their version hates me and that I going to hell. No matter what I said they held to their beliefs which is their right just like my beliefs are mine.

I just wish that people like yourself would apply your beliefs to yourself only and stop trying to impose it on others. It is very grandiose and arrogant.

Chris said...

Joe,

I am glad that Mike is O.K. I guess I was pretty lucky. My partner Jim ended up in the ER when informed by his doctor that he needed to go there immediately after a Doctors office visit. At that time we had only been together a couple of years and not married. I went to the Hospital ER , told them I was his parnter and they let me right back to be with him(I guess the difference was that he drove himself and wasn't taken by ambulance.) They let me stay with him until they decided to admit him and then they let me come with them when they took him to his room. While in the room the intake nurse took his information and asked me whom I was, in which I replied his partner, she said O.K. and that was it. I was always allowed to visit and never had any issues with the Hospital at all. I am glad that I didn't have to make any decisions or things may have turned out differently. I am not sure how I would have handled it if I had felt "threatend" that I might not be able to to be with him had I said I was his partner, I imagine I may have used the "brother" excuse or just acted striaght. I know its bad but we still do not have medical power of attorney stuff done yet (after 7 years) and I was told that, irt was all you needed to be able to make decisions and to be allowed to be with your partnerand considered family legally, if not why would I need to get that document then?

Russ Jay said...

Hi Joe,

Stan and I are now starting our
35th year together and the subject of medical emergencies has arisen several times during our long partnership. As a matter of practice, I take our Advanced Medical Directives, General & Durable Powers of Attorney and our wills with me when we go to the emergency ward for anything. So far we have not had such a traumatic confrontation like your and Mike's ambulance situation; but, I make sure that all the care givers see the paper work immediately and I have our lawyers on my short call list on my cell phone if they are needed. Appearing to be very organized even in a time of great stress and trauma seems to have signalled the right messages to the care-givers in our cases. In addition, our executrix also has access to all these documents in the event both of us were injured and she has instructions to use these documents to keep us together as long as it does not de-stabilize treatment.

Best regards,

Russ

Sarah said...

Hello Joe,

Read your newsletter. First of all, hope Mike feels better. Second of all let me share my last experience going to a well known "straight restaurant" in St Clair Shores with my girlfriend... We are having a great time , eating dinner (maybe lesbian shouldn't eat ;)), talking, not much of public display because we are lesbians and we are in a straight environnement... They played music and I decided to dance with the woman I am with... and I can feel we are being watched like we have such a bad disease...so we decided to leave and at the door a group of guys -mature ages- were waiting for us, calling us very bad names, being very rude to my girlfriend, looking at me saying what a waste... Now I am afraid to go to my car ... Since when should I be afraid to walk to my car because of who I am, it is April 2009?? Your country Joe amazes me (and I sure love your country), we talked about that before...so advanced in technology, wealth etc and so behind about human rights...With no doubt I would be protected because I am a human being for many things but some of my rights, your rights would be rejected because of my of your sexuality... Hospital, restaurant, grocery store, school it does not matter, if you are gay in most of the states in USA you are an outsider. The land of Freedom?? Thats right I can not be killed for being gay I can just be denied , that is our freedom. I am sorry Joe for what happened to Mike and for you to experience rejection...At this moment I feel frustrated and mad however It will not make me give up just want to fight more . What a shame! Oh and one more thing how ignorant for anybody to waste their time to reply in the blog "maybe Joe Kort is or acted like a woman" Yea I forgot "freedom of speech" and let me add "freedom of ignorance and stupidity"....We are where we are because of you kind of people and don't dislike you just feel sorry for you.

Love and Light. Sarah.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I love your blog and read your newsletters with great interest.
I'm glad to hear that Mike's OK. What a scary story!
You never know in the life when you're going to approach an akward situation where policy conflicts with humanity. It seems like the hospital staff wanted to act humanely while the EMT's and police didn't.
It's too bad that someone doesn't investigate these instances where we are all gay or straight put into these situations and write a "rule book" as for what to do.
Maybe you could be the one?

Jenna said...

One good thing our lawyer suggested (that I am suggesting to all same-sex couples) is to scan all of your legal documents and save them on a thumb-drive that you can attach to your key chain. I think it is a great way to carry such documents with you all the time!

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Sorry for what happened to Mike. I hope everything is okay. As far as the ambulance situation goes, it could be they were concerned for Mike's welfare, even though they radioed in no foul play. It may not even be a homophobic response.

As far as the Mormon story goes, the person you were talking to may have been a conservative / fundamentalist Christian who takes scriptures literary.

I came across an interesting book you could read, called "The Bible Tells Me So – Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture" by Jim Hill and Rand Cheadle. This book tells how scriptures are used for and against various social causes over the centuries. It's an eye opener.

Peter said...

Hi Joe,

I read your letter over several times, trying to grasp the panic you must have felt. I'm glad the cause was due to Mike's medication, but the situation could have been much worse if you had not been there. Be grateful you were.

I too am an out, open, Gay Jewish man. I too advocate the importance of our visibility to change misconceptions and prejudice. And I don't doubt for a moment that if it had been my partner I would have "closeted-up" and said we are brothers (welllll, in a sense...), because being with him would be more important than being denied access for the sake of my pride or making a political statement. I know there are some watchdogs who will take issue with that, but I submit that you just don't know until it happens to you.

Four years ago, my mother passed away. During the month previous that she was hospitalized, as her son, no one questioned my constant presence in the hospital. Granted, much of it was spent in a waiting room, as required by IC procedures that allowed visitation only during specific times. While most of the staff was sympathetic, there were a few whose belligerence was not unchecked. You try telling a blood technician who after 4 attempts of inserting a needle into an artery, then jokes about it, that he only gets one more chance. Or try standing up to a head doctor who feels using your mother (or partner!) as an exhibit for his rounds of students is more important than actually treating her or answering your questions. The hospital can be a scary place, even for those of us are relatives trying to help and make sense of it all. Being Gay is not always the issue.

In your case, I rejoice that Mike is home with you, and hopefully on better medication. Here's wishing you at least 16 more years, and then more.

Peter Cooper

Anonymous said...

I live in California, but am a former Detroit area resident (born and raised) and there is a world of difference between how publicly "safe" I feel in the two states.
Even though Prop 8 has temporarily passed, (we'll try again soon...we're not giving up!)a lot of the things raised by you aren't given the states sanction here. Homophobes in business are still here but they know the line (most of the time..there are exceptions) that they can't cross with gay folks... legally.
Our state domestic partnership act has been a huge part of that attitude change here...and it's one of the main reasons I wanted to move out here to live, even before the move for gay marriage. This isn't to say that homophobia isn't around...it goes underground sometimes...but there is a much greater societal dialogue here of what constitutes discrimination...esp after Prop 8.

It's admirable that you followed your heart in what to do and say regarding your beloved....the more of us that do that, the more we're know to our associates and others as real and true. Truth trumps deceit, fear and lies any day...it may take awhile but it wears away fear just as water wears away the hardest stone.
By the way, your books have been a great assistance in my life.
filmguyd (origin: Dearborn)

craig said...

Joe, thanks for posting, and thanks for all your very helpful books.

I just adopted an adult son, 23, and we're facing the same thing. He has no relatives, no family. His mother was killed when he was 6, no father, and he aged out of the foster care system.

I'm looking at exactly the same issues. It scares me to death. I contacted the major hospitals in town to determine their policy on same sex couples, honoring advance directives, etc. They were all quite positive, except one which didn't bother to respond.

Won't ever step foot in there again.

Son and I are both gay, and he's just out and preparing for life as a healthy gay man. Your books have helped me enormously, and now they're helping him.

To some of the comments that are so negative, coming from supposed health care people, you really ought to really ought to examine why you are in health care if you have this little compassion. Seriously.

Jhon smith said...

I believe it is sad and disturbing that some partners in this country need to know and research whether the hospital they might need to go to in an emergency is going to respect their intimate relationship.

Bhima shankar said...

Can anyone comment on what the policy would be for the ambulance ompany for a circumstance like this, where it is unknown if an injury was inflicted by the party that would be riding with the patient?