For members of the LGBTQ community, it’s sometimes difficult to know who to trust when it comes to healthcare. Two local healthcare providers have made serving this commuinty a priority.
“I believe that the best thing our society could hope for is that every person would get the same, wonderful level of care at their healthcare provider’s office, regardless of the client’s sexual orientation, gender or identity,” said counselor Gillian Meredith Love.
Love is Jackson native who grew up in Greenwood. She attended Ole Miss, earning an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling.
Love decided to become a counselor to help people. She had seen a therapist as a teenager, and she said it helped. She has been a counselor for 13 years, and now practices in Oxford.
Love said she enjoys watching her clients achieve goals. “And by that, I mean, they have insight about themselves and their thoughts, feelings, behavior, family of origin, and they begin to feel better, and do better.”
Love’s specialty areas are working with children of divorced parents and LGBTQ clients of all ages. “I openly advertise that one of the specialties in my practice is working with LGBTQ clients,” she said, “and because I do advertise this, I think people in the LGBTQ community who might be looking for a counselor pay special attention to this and find added comfort in this.”
Love said it would be great if there were others who identified as LGBTQ-friendly dentists, eye doctors, and other healthcare providers, but she does not think it is crucial. Clients may choose not to disclose their sexual orientation when seeking healthcare.
Love said she has a number of LGBT clients, and in graduate school for counseling, she was taught to treat LGBT clients with the respect, understanding, and empathy she would treat any client. However, professors told her to be aware of her personal values, and if those values stood in the way of her delivering good, quality services to a client, she should refer the client to another counselor who didn’t have a conflicting personal value.
Love said she is concerned about America and the LGBT community because of the dangers transgender people face. “They seem to be at the highest risk for discrimination, hate, murder, and homicide,” she said.
However, she does believe progress has been made. Love said there are many LGBTQ residents living in Oxford, and she believes the town is progressive compared to other areas of Mississippi.
Madison native Randy Weeks is another LGBTQ-friendly healthcare provider. He attended college at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He later attended Mississippi College and earned a master’s degree in applied sociology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy.
Weeks pursued a career in therapy after becoming an ordained minister for the Southern Baptist Church because he was a pastoral counselor in the church. He has been a practicing therapist for 23 years. Along with his private practice in Oxford, he manages an inpatient psychiatric crisis center in Grenada.
Weeks said it’s important to be represented in all aspects of life regardless of race or sexual orientation.
“LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers of all types are absolutely needed,” he said. “Members of their community need these things just as everyone else does.”