Lingga Tri Utama is a project manager at ResultsinHealth and member of the Share-Net Netherlands LGBTI+ Health Community of Practice who is committed to improving LGBTI+ health.
Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression are important social determinants of health. They can and do affect health needs and vulnerabilities, health (seeking) behaviours and access and quality of health services. LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) individuals face unique challenges when it comes to their health, which is often exacerbated by intersections with gender, race, age, or socio-economic status. At Share-Net Netherlands (SN-NL) we recognise LGBTI+ health is an important component of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender equality. Through communities of practice (CoPs), Share-Net Netherlands facilitates the collaboration of our members to discuss, share, and use evidence and knowledge-products that are relevant to their areas of interest. An area of interest we support member collaboration in is LGBTI+ health, where our dedicated members, like Lingga Tri Utama, are working towards improving health of people and communities of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities.
From working on LGBTI+ issues in Indonesia to focusing his Master thesis on this topic, Lingga is passionate about contributing to and learning new things in the area of LGBTI+ health. Yet, despite having this keen enthusiasm for this topic, engaging with it in the capacity he wants in his professional role is not always possible. As he describes: “You can’t really choose what topic to focus on because it depends on the call, and topics related to LGBTI aren’t usually a focus”. Yet Lingga shows how having the opportunity to pursue our personal passions can enrich our lives. It allows us to find a community and get ideas and inspiration that can be beneficial to the places we work. For Lingga, being part of this community and learning from those who work on LGBTI+ projects, programmes, and policies is something that is very important to him. He values this CoP as a space where he can be kept up to date on the latest developments in LGBTI+ health, something he recognises he would not have access to through his professional role alone.
Pursuing our passions within a community of individuals with similar interests can spark creativity and lead to interesting knowledge to be generated. As Lingga puts it for his CoP: “we don’t limit ourselves to physical health. We really want a broader perspective, including mental health. We try to invite the member from the intersex community as well”. Addressing mental health is an important topic, especially amongst LGBTIQ+ individuals who experience higher rates of some mental health conditions and are more likely to report barriers to mental health service access. Within the LGBTI+ CoP, Lingga is currently organising a thematic meeting to address this topic and explore how online mental health support and services have been provided to LGBTIQ+ individuals and the lessons that can be learned from them in order to improve the mental health status of LGBTIQ+ people. Such an event is particularly pertinent in the today’s digital era. As Lingga prepares for this meeting, he is keen to share broad perspective of this issue across different contexts. If you would like to share any interesting mental health initiatives for LGBTIQ+ individuals, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not only can our members really get a broad scope on their specific interest areas, but they are also invited to engage with the various other SRHR topics being explored within the network. This unique opportunity within Share-Net is one Lingga has been able to bring back into professional role and organisation, for example he shares: “sometimes because of the burden of work you have, you cannot keep updated with everything going on in all areas of sexual and reproductive health. For example, infertility is quite a new area of focus, and if my organisation finds a client that wants to work on this issue, then we can already know about recent developments in this area through the infertility CoP, not just the basics”. Ultimately, Lingga expresses enthusiasm about his passion for LGBTI+ health and the personal value of being part a community who want to improve LGBTI+ health and the professional value of a network that allows him to meet new people and gain new insights in the field of SRHR.
Read more about our LGBTI+ Health Community of Practice here.