Story by: Caitlin Taylor
For many, “The Beautiful Laundrette” is merely a queer comedy-drama from the late 1980s, but for Dr. Henry Ng (MD), the movie serves as a memory of a special moment in young adulthood.
“I recall that one year, Brody Complex had a special showing of the movie,” he said. “This was one of the first times I remember seeing an LGBT-themed movie in my life.”
During his undergraduate experience at Michigan State University, there was little formal support for LGBTQ+ people. Ng only recalls a few students, including himself, who were out on campus between 1992-1996.
“At the time, LGBT identities were not discussed openly or made to feel included,” he said. “LGBT people on campus met via posted flyers for meetings and events.”
Despite a lack of visibility on campus, Ng found his place among other LGBTQ+ students of Color and made a home at MSU. He credits Deanna Hurlbert, a previous resident assistant (RA) at Brody Complex and current director of the MSU LBGT Resource Center, for having significant influence on his engagement with the LGBTQ+ community.
“As an openly out lesbian woman, she addressed LGBT issues at a time when there were few resources for LGBT students,” he said.
Through Hurlbert, Ng was introduced to an LGBTQ+ students of Color advisory board, and later, joined the ranks of residence life, serving as an RA for three years.
“Having a voice and making my concerns heard was important,” he said, “especially when those who were in positions of power and influence were unaware of our concerns and needs.”
Ng’s engagement with the LGBTQ+ community was only made stronger after his graduation from MSU. He attended medical school and completed his residency in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, spending the last 10 years focusing his career on the care of LGBTQ+ people.
He co-founded the PRIDE Clinic, a hospital-based clinic for LGBTQ+ health, in addition to creating LGBTQ+ health education resources and participating in LGBTQ+ health research. Currently, he is an Associate Professor for Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, the Assistant Dean for Medical Student Admissions at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Center Director for Internal Medicine-Pediatrics. He is a leading national expert on LGBTQ+ youth health care.
“I spend a little less than half of my time caring for patients, including those from the LGBT community and teaching students and residents how to do the same,” said Ng.
In addition to his professional career, Ng is the past president of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality and has returned to MSU for talks on LGBTQ+ health topics.
Ng’s visits to MSU and the LBGT Resource Center leave him feeling hopeful for the successes of students with intersecting identities, he said, wishing the center’s services would have been accessible to him during his time as a student.
“Too many students still come to large schools like MSU and feel like that they are alone,” said Ng.
For his students, patients and the LGBTQ+ community at large, Ng stresses the importance of knowing that we are not alone. He believes in always giving voice to those who do not have the privilege or power.
“Be true to yourself and listen to your heart,” he said. “Know that you have value. Know that you are worth loving. Know that there is hope, even when your outlook is bleak or life seems challenging.”