Drag queens and vaccines: LGBTQ+ center partners with Westchester Medical for vaccination effort
Residents got vaccinated and celebrated pride at the same time in White Plains on Saturday.
The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center in White Plains partnered with Westchester Medical Center to provide a safe space to get vaccinated.
The LOFT Center is known as an affirmed space, which allows members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel seen, heard and respected, something many say is not the case in typical health care settings.
"As a non-binary person, navigating medical spaces is scary,” says Shepard Verbas, the director of programs and services at the center. “It's actually quite rare to find a medical environment that is accepting and knowledgeable about the multiple identities I bring to a space, and I know that's true for a lot of queer people."
That's why LOFT Center Executive Director Judy Troilo says she felt it was necessary to carry out this event.
"Creating a space that's safe, where people feel affirmed, where they're not going to be mis-gendered, where they feel there's a level of trust, is what we tried to do today,” Troilo says. "Folks can get vaccinated, folks can get STI screenings and also learn more about how to get health insurance coverage if they need to."
With the annual Pride March kicking off Sunday in New York City and as the world begins to revert to some sense of normalcy, health officials say getting vaccinated is more important now than ever.
"It feels so good to be protecting communities and to be here today protecting a community that otherwise might not feel safe getting vaccines, it's just all the more reason to feel excited," says Rebecca Glassman, medical director of the AIDS Care Center at Westchester Medical Center.