Seeing as it’s Pride Month, I’d like to explain how my health experiences made me sympathize with what the LGBT community goes through.
ME/CFS isn’t an illness like cancer where you’re treated like a brave warrior and hero regardless of how treatable, mild, or severe your form is. You get diagnosed by ruling everything else out that could explain the symptoms (AIDS, Lupus, Lyme Disease, etc). Since there’s no test to “prove” that you’re sick, the illness isn’t taken seriously and people don’t believe that you’re suffering. The situation is a little better now, but back when I got sick in the early 2000s it was awful. Doctors and teachers treated me like some asshole that just didn’t want to come to class, a hypochrondriac, a nut, or that my symptoms were psychosomatic due to some childhood abuse. Their comments got into the heads of my parents who suspected that maybe my symptoms were due to abusing drugs. I was given no help or half-assed help at best. Only occasionally would someone sympathize with me, but it would be someone like a nurse that couldn’t do much in their position.
My stomach pain was at its worst as I struggled to attend freshman year at Apponequet. I’d get snide comments about why I wasn’t eating and was so skinny, calling me anorexic, etc. I was never one to get into fights but a lot of shoving went down that year (I wasn’t going to put up with anyone’s shit on top of everything else). The Principal noticed that I tended to be a loner in the lunchroom so she took me aside and suggested I join the Diversity Coahlition (the newly-renamed Gay/Straight Alliance). I said “I’m sick, I’m not gay!” I’m willing to guess that was her go-to response to any outsider and offered that same half-assed help to any LGBT student trying to make sense of their situation.
As a straight white guy I’ll never know what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of a gay man. Also, I grew up in Massachusetts: one of the most tolerant states… so I REALLY don’t know what it’s like to be a gay man growing up in places like the midwest/southern USA, or at worst strict countries in the Middle East. However, I know what it’s like to be treated like shit for something that isn’t your fault and you have zero control over. Due to that, I’ve always felt a sort of kinship with any other groups that have had to deal with the same thing.