Dear colleagues,

Last week marked the beginning of Pride Month, which is dedicated to achieving equal justice and equal opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride Month started more than 50 years ago with grassroots efforts to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which began after New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village.

With all of the current controversies surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation, this year’s Pride Month serves as another reminder of the discrimination and inequity that these communities continue to experience and endure.

Individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ constitute an integral part of our School of Medicine – they are our learners, faculty, staff and patients. It is vital that they, like all members of our school community, are treated with respect and feel comfortable to be their authentic selves in our classrooms, offices, health care facilities and labs.

Last year, with the advocacy and support of our students, we launched our school’s first OUTlist to increase the visibility of our LGBTQIA+ community. The list also serves as an informal network of contacts, mentors and advisors – something that its faculty supporters often lacked during their training.

When asked about the importance of the OUTlist, Dr. Joel Moll, residency program director in the Department of Emergency Medicine, said: "One thing I learned as a gay man who grew up and trained during the AIDS crisis, when homophobia and bias was rampant against the LGBTQIA+ community, was the importance of being visible and known. It is hard to hate who you know and trust. Queer people have to come out every day in many interactions, which is not always welcoming, and by taking a stand with whatever privilege I have to be visible and support others is everything."

No one should experience fear or apprehension when seeking health care or as they support our clinical, educational and research missions. Our differences make us stronger, more innovative and better able to meet our community’s toughest challenges with solutions that benefit all.


David P. Chelmow, M.D. - Interim Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health