For someone who identifies as LGBTQ, the question of how to come out to those around us can be a complex decision. As someone who spent 47 years as a “straight, married father from the suburbs,” it was even more confusing for me. Being a long-term staff member within the Froedtert & MCW health network, I was blessed (though not surprised) that my work family accepted my authentic self with warmth and understanding when I publicly came out in 2013. I love this organization for the people who work here and the passion we have for accepting and serving each other and our patients every day. But, could I come out to my own doctor? Would he judge me? Could I ask him tough questions? Would he know the answers? Should I just stay “in the closet,” medically?

I had a great relationship with my primary care physician, Mark Obermyer, MD, at the Springdale Health Center, and I had already come out to my family, friends and colleagues. I decided I owed it to myself to trust him and give myself the opportunity to truly be authentic. Let’s face it: some of the most difficult and confusing, yet important conversations can be between a person and their physician. 

At my next physical, I told Dr. Obermyer who I really was. I told him about the journey out of the closet I had made in the past year, and said I hoped we could continue to partner related to my health and wellness. His response could not have been better. He honored my willingness to be honest and open with him and expressed that he was privileged to continue to provide me with the best care possible.

Over the past few years, we have had some great conversations about my health care needs and issues. He has always been very knowledgeable and proactive about consulting with his colleagues who specialize in issues related to unique LGBTQ health care needs. I have friends in the LGBTQ community who struggle to get their needs met with providers in other systems. Some even express receiving some unintended shame for who they are. It makes me feel that much luckier to be both a Froedtert Health staff member and a patient of the Froedtert & MCW health network. We all deserve to be accepted for who we are and treated with dignity and respect. I want everyone to know they can find those things here.

Jamie Schounard
Director, Froedtert & MCW Joint Preservation and Replacement Program

Health Care for the LGBTQ Community