Voices of older LGB people on general practice

Appropriate Treatment: Older lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s experience of general practice

By Lindsay River

Illustrations at right and in the report © Z*qhyghoem 2011 z-qhygoem@talktalk.net

A report based on work carried out at Polari between 2007 and 2009. The report includes quantitative findings, analysis and recommendations that are highly relevant in the current NHS climate. Most importantly, it contains the voices of older (50+) lesbian, gay and bisexual people (including some trans people who are LGB) about their experiences of General Practice: good, bad, and interesting. We reflect some of these below.

Click here to download the full report.


  • “My gay male identity is such a deep part of my identity I feel strongly that any failure to acknowledge this particularly in the primary health care situation can only be damaging to my physical social and mental well-being ...”
  • “As an older lesbian I find it hard to talk about certain things. My GP is a very warm and caring woman and I felt she put me at my ease and felt she was not judging me”.
  • “I find the fact treated like any other fact of my life like that I live alone ....”
  • “Their reaction against me has been intense at times, and as I usually see them when I am vulnerable whilst sick, I usually protect myself from their potential judgment by not telling them”.
  • “…they have said "it’s your life why be ashamed of it?" - this has proved to a tremendous self confidence booster.”
  • “Took them a while to recognise us as partners so that we could refer to each other as such when together or separately but now they have sort of got it.”
  • “…the smile froze on her face. Her whole manner changed in that moment of disclosure and she remained frosty and inaccessible from then on.”
  • “The doctor took the news I was gay in a 100% professional and business like way.”
  • “Disbelief, treating me as an idiot unable to identify my own sexuality.”
  • “I was able to discuss good sexual practice & ask advice as a newly discovered bisexual woman.”
  • “My (former) GP prescribed HRT and said that 'it should make my husband happy.' I was stunned by the sexist and heterosexist assumptions wrapped up in this comment.”
  • “I lived in Manchester where many practices were given training in LGBT issues mine being one. They were very courteous and understanding.”
  • “ [He] refused to give me any treatment - referring me to an STI clinic (waiting time 3 weeks!) - because he suspected (wrongly) that I had acquired the infection sexually.”
  • “After she died I was quite ill and had to go to the surgery to see the doctor. He was very caring and supportive.”
  • “The growth turned out to be rectal cancer but this hadn't been considered as it was presumed that as I was gay it must be related to sexual practices.”
  • “I was being treated for depression due to being a victim of hate crime. My GP was wonderful she gave me time to talk and was very supportive towards me.”
  • “I went to discuss my partner’s nocturnal epilepsy … The doctor's questioning was all about AIDS and safe sex.”
  • “Doctor pressured me to have HIV/AIDS test although I told her it was not necessary. I relented to make HER more comfortable because I think she was more concerned about herself and surgery staff.”
  • “I found myself explaining to a female doctor that male gay sex was not limited to anal sex.”
  • “When I said that I did not partake in penetrative sex, and that my partner was a woman, I heard her gasp.”
  • “The doctor made me feel so happy; she must have remembered meeting my partner during a home visit, it seemed to break the ice and acknowledge the relationship.”
  • “Nothing specific but the one doctor I try to see whenever I go has always been very supportive - but then she's a good doctor with well developed people skills across the board.”

Read more of the perceptions of older LGB people in the full report.