Defaced sign won’t deter medical practice from its mission

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A few profane words, scrawled on a sign outside her North Side office Friday afternoon, served as a cruel reminder to Stacy Lane that hate and ignorance still exist.

Dr. Lane, who specializes in care to the LGBT community, said the homophobic and profane graffiti saddened her. But she has a message that is more important and will connect with more people, she said.

“We all need to treat each other with dignity and respect,” she said, standing along the defaced sign for the Central Wellness Outreach Center on Anderson Street. “I think if you spend time with people, one-on-one, it changes your perspective. We all have the same struggles, we all want to be successful, we all want to have our bills paid, we all want to find love. Sometimes that love is a little different, that’s all. If they just took time to meet someone that was different from them, they’d change their mind.”

Dr. Lane opened her practice in the Timber Court building Aug. 3 and has already treated more than 800 patients , most of them members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“We do hormone therapy for people that are transgender,” she said. “We have a very nonjudgmental approach, and that’s really important to us. We treat people who are active in their addictions. We treat people who are sex workers or prostitutes for STDs. And we try to engage people that are marginalized in the health care system, that don’t necessarily fit into the big-box health care. We do needle exchanges, and we try to make it a very accessible health care program.”

This was the first incident of vandalism at the facility, which filed a police report about the vandalism. Dr. Lane said the neighborhood has been welcoming and supportive of her practice.

The blade sign, which is placed outside the building each morning and taken inside each night, depicts a person reaching over a rainbow toward the stars. It’s value is about $200, Dr. Lane said.

“Unfortunately, many people that I serve are used to being victimized and marginalized,” she said. “They’re used to having to deal with this on some low level regularly in their lives. That saddens me deeply, that this happened in my space. We intentionally try to make a space that’s welcoming, where this doesn’t happen.”

Dr. Lane said the only change she anticipates in the wake of the incident is the purchase of four more signs — to show that her work will go on.

“I think that awareness that these kind of things still go on is important for Pittsburgh, as a city and us as a community, to realize,” she said. “There are people still out there that hate for no good reason.

“Many people have felt marginalized at some point in their lives, probably including the people that write these type of messages. I would encourage all people to take a good look at themselves and their lives and their families. I would think that most of us would be hard-pressed to have a family that doesn’t have someone that doesn’t necessarily fit into the box that the rest of us fit into.

“We have to remember that we don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to agree with each other’s opinions. But we do have to treat each other with dignity and respect.”


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