Something Positive for Positive People: Suggestive Language Serves Us All

By Courtney Brame December 18, 2019

STD Engage 2019 was the first time I felt like Something Positive for Positive People was a real organization. Not just a podcast.


At this event, people would ask, “who are you with?” I’d then explain to them that I’m the founder of Something Positive for Positive People… and then depending on how I’m feeling, explain exactly what the podcast is/does. Sometimes it’s interviewing people with herpes, or STDs, it’s also an intentionally inclusive hub of sex-positive resources to help people affected by STI stigma navigate their diagnosis… and I also serve as an emotional aftercare resource for people who’ve just received a positive STI diagnosis.


Regardless of what I say SPFPP is, my time at STD Engage helped me realize that this project has evolved from it’s origins as a suicide prevention resource. It’s grown into a support tool for people with herpes, and then grew again to a hub of sex-positive resources. But more than anything, this is something far greater than Courtney’s tool for expression. While hosting the podcast has helped others who find it, those who join the show, and those who just refer it to others, I learned through attending this event that it is far more useful than just any of these things. I don’t have the exact sequence of words just yet, but Amanda from part 1 and Tessa whose episode can be accessed below, have really expanded my perspective on how there’s potential to serve both the herpes-positive community, and the health care providers as well.


This public health conference showed me an inside-out look from the provider-to-patient perspective. I learned that there are far more barriers that impact the rising STD rates across the country, and in some cases, the providers are in fact able to step up and remove more of those barriers. Our guest this week, Tessa, shares how she’s been able to use the power of empathy and suggestive language in order to allow patients to allow providers to meet their needs. Tessa shares a powerful story of working with prison inmates and full-service sex workers to get them the resources needed for staying as safe as they can be. This episode is one I think any of us who’ve had a less than acceptable experience with a health care provider can share in an anonymous email to the organization we’ve not been treated well at.


Shout out to #WeNeedAButton, which is a campaign started by WaxOh and the Group, and calls out the fact that especially when it comes to reproductive and sexual health, many healthcare providers are not trained to discuss and treat the variety of identities that exist.


Why is this so important? When people don’t feel safe or validated at the doctor’s, they may not go at all…or they may not be honest about their ‘lifestyle,’ behaviors, or symptoms, out of fear of judgement, ridicule, or worse.


This episode explores how in the best-case scenarios, suggestive language is used by medical providers, creating a sense of safety where honest conversations can happen between patient and provider. Imagine a world where we all get met with this kind of language. If we’re seen for treatment or even just testing and we’re feeling the emotional safety to disclose that we do exchange sex for money or living space. We share that we have sex with the same gender or multiple genders. We share that we have multiple partners or that we ourselves pay for sex. This is one way we begin to dissolve barriers to the best potential health care we can receive. We have to encourage our health care providers to create the space for people to be open and honest about their lifestyle with the expectation of receiving the best cautionary measures we can receive.


Enjoy the episode and stay sex positive!