Advocacy Saved My Life: Now I Use My Voice to Help the LGBTQ+ Community Remain Cared for at Home

My name is Cai Yoke and I am a Senior Manager of Government Relations at BAYADA Hearts for Home Care. As a queer person who is passionate about health equity, Pride Month has always been, for me, both a time to honor the generations of activists who have fought for the LGBTQ+ community and also an opportunity to identify the progress still needed to ensure LGBTQ+ people have access to the resources they need.

My passion for healthcare advocacy was ignited during my own serious health crisis when I was just sixteen years old, the same year I came out to my family as queer. I had become progressively sick throughout my sophomore year of high school, and it took hundreds of doctor’s appointments and more than 18 months before we finally discovered what was wrong. Finally, at seventeen, I underwent life-changing brain surgery. I remember sitting in appointment after appointment after appointment, listening to my mother argue with insurance companies and with doctors who didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me at all. I realized that I was extremely lucky to have someone like my mother advocating relentlessly for me, that I had someone who had the time and resources to make sure I got the care I
needed. I understood that was not the reality for most people, especially not queer people, and so began my passion for pursuing health advocacy work.  
Even as we continue to make rapid progress in our community, LGBTQ+ people continue to experience worse health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts due to low rates of insurance, stigma, and lack of competent care. I feel lucky and proud to be advocating alongside a nationwide network of advocates at Hearts for Home Care who are committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to home care services, especially communities that have been historically underserved.  Home care gives hundreds of thousands of people across the country the opportunity to receive the care they need while remaining independent and a part of the families and communities who love and support them – we all deserve this kind of care, this opportunity to remain a part of the communities that make us who we are.
This Pride Month, I’m thinking of all the LGBTQ elders and activists who have worked so hard to build a community and movement of people who are always taking care of each other, and I’m recommitting myself to fighting for a healthcare system that will take care of them, too.

Cai Yoke (they/them)
Senior Manager of BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Inc.