are you sexually active?

i used to have this scary ass doctor when i was little. he was a big old white man with a deep voice. i would tense up whenever i heard him outside the door and, before making his grand entrance, he would pound on the door like he was the police and i was the neighborhood dealer. i never liked the guy, and as a kid, i didn't know i had the option of asking for another doctor. he was big, strange, and he acted as though he'd forgotten that i still felt pain when he'd jab his cold fingers into my abdomen. everything seemed strictly business with him. sure, he'd ask how school was, how my grades were, but he'd still come across as cold and callous. i was thrilled when he eventually retired.

i went through a couple of new doctors, and they were all less intimidating than the original. the first time one of them asked me, "are you sexually active?" i was thrown off. isn't that a bit personal? and then i thought, why are they asking me this? i'm only twelve. who's sexually active at twelve? the question was absurd. but then i got to thinking about it some more. am i supposed to be sexually active? i was pretty naive, too. i thought masturbating counted as being sexually active. in any case, i said no. later, when i realized that they asked so that they could screen for hiv/aids and other s.t.d.s, i was relieved that i wasn't a liar.

my new doctor, the one i met this morning, is pretty awesome. she actually talked to me like i was a person, not a patient. in fact, the whole clinic was staffed with people of color, people who spoke different languages. it actually felt like a community in there. the whole atmosphere was really comfortable and welcoming, unlike the medclinic i usually went to in sacramento. for some reason, like most things sacramento, the medclinic was just an awful, unnerving place to me. everyone seemed really old and close to the end. i mean, i guess that's how hospitals are supposed to be, but the columbia city group health was something different. i didn't feel like i had to be afraid of getting old and dying when i was in there.

she asked me if i was sexually active. she asked me if i did drugs. i was honest about everything, and for the first time, i wasn't intimidated or embarassed.

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