Dr Winston Goh is a Family Physician who obtained his medical degree from the University of Hong Kong and did some overseas training in the United Kingdom as well as the US. He moved back to Hong Kong in 2015 with his husband. At OT&P, Dr Goh has experienced warmth and acceptance, where the focus has never been his sexual orientation. He has always been treated the same way as everyone else at the clinic.
Dr Goh has a particular interest in healthcare education for the LGBTQ+ community. In San Francisco, he volunteered at the API Wellness Center from 2010 to 2015, caring for homeless transgender and cisgender patients with HIV who have no access to traditional healthcare. In Hong Kong, Dr Goh also formed the Hong Kong LGBT Medical Society, with the mission to promote gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) healthcare and education in Hong Kong. Additionally, the society hopes to encourage LGBT+ diversity and inclusion and ensure that LGBT+ medical professionals in Hong Kong can bring their authentic selves to work.
What was your first coming out experience at work, and how did your colleagues react?
When I first joined this organization, I took over from a former colleague of OT&P, Dr Raymond Ng, who was an openly gay physician at the practice. A few other doctors in OT&P already knew who I was and that I was gay. My husband and I married just before moving to Hong Kong in 2015, and we had our son a couple of years later. One look at my Facebook profile shows that I am married to a man and have a son, so it was no mystery. At OT&P, it did not matter what my sexual orientation was. I have always been treated the same as everyone else.
How did things change after your colleagues knew you were gay?
Nothing changed. I felt like I was like everyone else, except that I had a husband. I remember the first time we brought our son to the practice to get his vaccinations. Our clinic manager greeted my husband and my son in the waiting room. It was refreshing to see the medical practice embrace my family in a warm, welcoming, and accepting way.
What are some of the things queer youth have now that you wish had been available back when you first recognized you were gay?
There are more openly gay role models now than when I was young and coming to terms with my sexuality. The LGBTQ+ community is no longer portrayed as something negative or perverse. There are many positive role models now for LGBTQ+ youth in media, sports, and politics. Another massive advantage young gay men have now is the availability of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Fear of HIV/AIDS and the stigma surrounding being infected created much stress in my younger years. Taking a pill to prevent being infected with HIV is something I could only dream of as a young man.
Have you ever experienced discrimination for being gay? If so, how did you handle it?
I was very fortunate not to have encountered any situations where I did not feel welcome in an establishment because of my sexual orientation. With that said, before OT&P, I was never “out” at work and lived in neighbourhoods where there was a larger LGBTQ+ community. I accept that I have been quite fortunate in that regard. I know others, including my husband, have faced discrimination and assault for being gay.
Any pearls of wisdom you would give to the next generation of the LGBTQIA+ community?
Being honest and open about who you are and not being afraid to express how you feel is the most important thing. Be true to who you are as a human being and treat everyone sincerely as you would treat yourself.
What are some common misconceptions you have seen about the LGBTQIA+ community that you wish to address?
The concept that being gay is a choice. Many of us know we have an attraction for people of the same sex at a very young age. From the age of seven, I knew that I had a much stronger admiration for boys than I had for girls. It was not until my early teens, when I entered puberty, that I realized it was more about attraction than admiration. Being gay was never a choice. It is simply who I was and am.