Youth Blog – Lessons from the 2017 National LGBTQ Health Conference in Chicago, IL
April 28th-29th marked the 5th Annual National LGBTQ Health Conference, which took place at the Hyatt hotel on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, IL. The conference was put together by Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH), as well as the Center on Halsted. The goal of the research conference was to bring together scientists, public health professionals, and healthcare providers to improve the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.
Many staff members at ISGMH (the home of the IMPACT program) attended the conference and presented their work. We heard from three presenters about their conference experiences: Arielle, Kai, and Dennis.
Arielle Zimmerman (she/her) is an intern with ISGMH. She is a soon-to-be-graduating senior majoring in sociology at Northwestern University. She has been an intern here for almost a full year.
“The National LGBTQ Health Conference was my first ever conference. I really enjoyed getting to meet researchers from all around the world who are collecting data about LGBTQ identity, experiences, and health! As a bi woman, I especially was inspired by the folks doing research on bi+ communities. Without data, we will never be able to create policies and programs to give our communities the support we need.
“The conference was also my first time presenting a poster about reasons why some LGBTQ youth feel uncomfortable with answering survey questions about reproductive health. I was so happy to collaborate on this with Kai Korpak, my friend and fellow intern since day one. I am also so thankful for Maggie Matson and Kathryn Macapagal’s mentorship throughout the process.
“Though talking about my research with people at the conference was scary at first, I quickly relaxed and enjoyed the conversations. Attending the conference has made me even more energized to graduate so I may begin my future career path. My dream is to study sexual health and relationships between and among LGBTQ communities, and eventually pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health.”
Kai Korpak (he/his) is an intern at ISGMH and a B.A. student at DePaul University.
“To me the National LGBTQ Health Conference was a chance to get my feet wet regarding my future goal of becoming a queer researcher. It was not only a chance to collaborate with others on two different poster presentations, but also a chance to learn what queer researchers are studying. The conference brought together more than just researchers but also practicing clinicians, nurses, doctors and students alike.
“I collaborated on one poster with Arielle Zimmerman [see above]. The other poster that I worked on was a study using survey, network and qualitative (descriptive) data of LGBTQ youth’s online social media behavior and how they talk about their own online identities across subgroups (family, classmates, coworkers, others). This project worked with Liz McConnell, M.A., a doctoral candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology at DePaul University and a National Research Service Award (NRSA) predoctoral fellow with ISGMH.
“The conference was a great chance for me to be able to talk face to face with faculty from across the United States and learn what research they are conducting in their labs, as I begin my search for a graduate doctoral program in clinical/counseling psychology. “
Dennis Li (he/him), Ph.D., M.P.H., is a postdoctoral research fellow at ISGMH.
“It is astonishing to see how much the National LGBTQ Health Conference has grown in just a year and a half. My first time attending was in October 2015. It was a small meeting compared to the massive American Public Health Association conference that immediately followed, but for a student like I was at the time, the impact was far greater. The diversity of topics that all focused on sexual and gender minority health opened my eyes to a lot more avenues of research and practice than I had previously been exposed to, and it was at that conference where the establishment of ISGMH was first announced.
“Now a postdoctoral fellow at ISGMH, I was amazed at the size and scope of this year’s National LGBTQ Health Conference, which included more presentations, more subject areas, and more opportunities to connect with others while still maintaining the intimacy of the previous iteration. From big-name speakers like Dr. Ilan Meyer (of the minority stress model that everyone cites) to the phenomenal professional development institute with six National Institutes of Health program officers, the conference planners really exceeded my expectations.
“Echoing my feelings from last time, this conference was especially beneficial for students and early-career professionals not only because of the specific emphasis on professional development but also because of the interdisciplinary nature of the theme. I enjoyed hearing perspectives from social work, medicine, basic sciences, public health, psychology, and queer and gender studies, which is often missing from our more field-specific meetings.
“For anyone looking to get into or cultivate research on sexual and gender minority health issues, if this conference isn’t on your radar already, it should be. I look forward to what new elements the National LGBTQ Health Conference will add in the future.”
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