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The Founding of the Caucus

The LBG PA Caucus was founded May 19, 1979, at the National Gay Health Conference in New York. Founding members include, PAs Clover Jacobson and Ron Vachon (then of Boston) and the moral support of soon to be PA student Mark Behar. Press releases, sent to several Gay/Lesbian newspapers included the statement “The organization hopes to serve as a consciousness raising group within AAPA to improve health care for Gay/Lesbian consumers, and as a support group for PAs nationwide.”



8th Annual Conference of AAPA

New Orleans

“Not very long ago, I was sure I was the only one,” is the most common statement we read in letters from PAs around the country.  “The excitement that under lies the discovery that there are other Lesbians and Gay men in the PA profession, the strength in numbers...these are what make this Caucus valuable and strong...”.  Thus began one of the first of the LGPA Newsletter edited by Ron Vachon.  Clover wrote a report about the official birth of the Caucus that is abstracted below:

“I left Boston with my love, Lynn for New Orleans on Friday, May 23, to arrive in the early evening.  It was hot and sticky, but we were both excited.  We were looking forward to some vacationing and some time together.  We never really had either.  Our hotel was down the street from the Hilton, so we put our stuff away and trotted to the Hilton.

The only thing happening so early on was the (House of Delegates) Reference Committee meetings.  The way things are done in the National Academy is that all resolutions go through the Reference Committees.  In the committee, pro and con arguments are heard from the floor. The Reference Committee then recommends support or not for the resolution in the House of Delegates. The full House then votes. I was an alternate delegate from Massachusetts: so when we arrived, we sat down to the issue on the floor: boycott ing non-ERA ratified states for future AAPA conferĀ­ences.  The debate was heated.  This resolution was eventually passed by a narrow margin in the House of Delegates.

The next day was filled with Reference Committee meetings.  ‘Our’ issue, establishing Special Interest Caucuses (SIC) within the Academy was to go to the floor.  Clover eloquently spoke along with others as to why there was a need for SICs to keep the Academy ‘clean’ politically. The new Speaker of the House, Charlie Huntington, was very supportive from the floor.  The resolution, supported by the Reference Committee, passed the House, thus creating the Women‘s Caucus and the Lesbian & Gay Caucus.  We were placed under a standing committee by the Speaker of the House.  I felt this was quite an accomplishment, considering the Academy’s homophobia.

Saturday evening, Lynn, Terry Gayle, from the Gay People in Medicine (a Caucus of the American Medical Student Association) and I checked out several potential meeting places in the French Quarter for the newly created Caucus.  We finally choose the bar, The Mississippi River Bottom, as the best place because it had a quiet back bar that would allow talking. The next day, a friend from the Massachusetts Association of PAs designed a sign announcing our upcoming meeting, and thus begun the saga of torn down signs.  While I was in the House, my lover, Lynn kept a watchful eye on the posters, yet many were ripped down, and almost as quickly replaced.  Homophobia was very evident to say the least. The meeting finally happened, and 20-25 people showed up.

So where do we go from here?  Now that the Caucus was officially recognized, what next??  One logical step is to get the Academy to proclaim that it will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.  However, the AAPA may not be ready to acknowledge that discrimination and homophobia are rampant in our ‘health world', let alone do anything about it.  Perhaps our next steps are to increase our numbers; build our strength; find out who our friends are and raise some consciousness.  If we decide that consciousness raising is our prime target, here are some ideas for San Diego: rent floor space at the conference exhibit hall for a booth to draw attention to our issues; continuing medical education sessions for AAPA conferences; visibility, and being “out,” seeking out leadership to address our concerns as well as assuming leadership in the Academy; other aspects of consciousness raising; public cocktail parties, perhaps jointly sponsored with the Women‘s Caucus. Other ideas: hospitality suite; annual meeting of the Caucus; fundraising dinner at a Gay/Lesbian restaurant; and lastly, a pamphlet/flyer, that explains who we are and what we are about.

Several months before the San Diego Conference, the Newsletter reported objections by Caucus members to the “...political stance that you said was either different from your own or other than what you think will be effective in impacting the AAPA.”

Co-Chairs: Ron Vachon and Clover Jacobson


Newsletter Editor: Ron Vachon



9th Annual Conference of AAPA

San Diego 

Resolution 81-E-17 created the Caucus!!  Other resolutions taken up by the House of Delegates formalized the relationship between special interest caucuses (at the time, only the Women’s and the LGPA).  During the Reference Committee hearings, opposition from homophobes expressed concern about letting one caucus of “perverts” in will set precedent for pederasts at the next meeting to apply for status!  Some delegates in the House attempted to raise “moral” issues on the floor, while others tried to get it tabled.  Thanks to parliamentary maneuvers by House leadership and friends on the floor, it was brought to a vote, and passed 87 to 70!  Especially helpful were delegates from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California chapters.  Les DeFacio led a discussion about Hepatitis in the hospitality suite.  The “Caucus Auxiliary”—non-PA partners & spouses of LBGPA members made the swimming pool its official headquarters, and everyone had a ball!

Co-Chairs: Ron Vachon and Clover Jacobson


Newsletter Editor: Ron Vachon



10th Annual Conference of AAPA

Washington, D.C.

LGPA Caucus firmly established this year, resisting the challenges by delegates from Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma to abolish caucuses.  The objecting chapters opposed what they described as “splintering” of the Academy.  Thinly disguised homophobia clearly had a part in this effort.  Some of the most effective testimony in favor of caucuses came from AAPA officers and committee chairpersons who had been opposed to the caucus concept in San Diego.

Many of us felt that their attitude changed as a result of our demonstrating that we are responsible, viable, and true to the goals we set forth: we could be trusted!  This measure was soundly defeated by the House and the LBGPA was here to stay.

Exhibit Hall booth, “Heterosexuality: Can It Be Cured?” was well received and provoked many to rethink their preconceived notions about their Lesbian & Gay peers and patients.  Literature we distributed quickly ran out.  Of utmost importance was our increased visibility.  Many of our fellow PAs stopped by the booth to discuss the Caucus, themselves as Lesbian & Gay health professionals, and the needs of Lesbian & Gay patients.  We were able to be ourselves, set an example, and educated our fellow PAs.

At our business meetings plans were made to con duct two surveys of PA programs, one dealing with admission policies regarding Lesbian & Gay applicants (Ron Vachon), and the second to survey curricula on sexuality as it pertains to Lesbian & Gay patients and their lifestyles, as taught in PA programs (Mark Behar).  The results of these surveys would be reported in St. Louis.  The “In-Out” confidentiality policy of Caucus membership was clarified.  What was the greatest accomplishment of the LBGPA in DC?  RESPECT!!  We earned it and we got it!!!

This was Mark Behar’s first official conference, and he found a $90 wad of bills outside the Capital Hilton, which paid for refreshments for a Caucus party at his former roommate’s home.  The day of the party, he contracted the flu; later that evening he lay, sick as a dog, in bed.  Over one-hundred people tromped through the room to pay their respects to the sick, co-host on their way to the porch and party rooms!  At the end of the Conference, still feverish and feeling shitty, he flew to the National Gay Health Conference and National AIDS Forum in Houston. (Ask him to tell you how much fun it is to fly with a fever and plugged up ears!)

LGPA impressed the Academy with sponsoring quality CMEs on “Hepatitis B Vaccine” (Dr. Dan Williams & Ron Vachon) and “Taking a Sexual History with the Lesbian and Gay Patient in Mind—A Workshop” (Clover Jacobson & Ron Vachon).  Many people said (non-Caucus members especially) that our CMEs were among the best sessions to ever come from an Academy organization.  Of course, no other Academy “organization” offered CMEs, but whose paying attention to details!!  It should be noted that Mark Behar presented the Academy’s first talk on AIDS (“Report on the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: A New Sexually Transmitted Disease?”) during this conference.

Co-Chairs: George Steffen and Clover Jacobson

Membership/Treasurer: Deane Bergstrud

Secretary: Deane Bergstrud

Newsletter Editor: Ron Vachon

This was the year we established the staggering of the election of Co-Chairs to help provide continuity in the leadership of the Caucus.



11th Annual Conference of AAPA

St. Louis 

Suite at the Marriot Hotel.  Resolution call on AAPA to educate PAs about AIDS and to support legislation for increased research funding was tabled indefinitely (disappointing).  The newly elected head of the Minority Affairs Committee—Sara Chan Davidson, came to us in a show of mutual support in our efforts towards educating other PAs about our concerns. 

  • “Taking a Sexual History: The Lesbian and Gay Patient” (Ron Vachon): and
  • “AIDS” (Mark Behar), were well received as LGPA sponsored CMEs.

Co-Chairs: Rosemary Strube and George Steffen

Membership/Treasurer: Daryl Kirk

Secretary/Treasurer: Deane Bergstrund

Newsletter Editor: Lily Gage



12th Annual Conference of AAPA


LGPA Caucus suite at the Executive Tower Hotel.  “Out of the Closets” slide/tape presentation by the Gay Caucus of the American Medical Students Association about Lesbian & Gay physicians and medical students in their workplaces was shown several times.  Discussion groups in the suite included: “Gay Male Sexual Expression in the AIDS Age”, “Coping with Stress: Acute and Chronic Illness”, and “Coming Out at Work.”

The results of the survey examining the existence and adequacy of education in PA programs regarding human sexuality and gay sexuality in particular were discussed.  Some 239 persons completed the survey and significant differences were noted in the coverage of general and heterosexual material.  Preliminary results also showed that programs were paying more attention to Gay sexuality as a result of the “AIDS era.”  The results of the survey were shared with both AAPA and APAP.  Also available would be material and resources for helping individual PA programs develop an educational curriculum sensitive to Gay and Lesbian needs.

During the Caucus business meeting, AAPA Past-President William Stanhope spoke about establishing LGPA members in state constituent chapters, in the House of Delegates, and AAPA officer and committee positions.  Another guest at this meeting, Carl Toney, Minority Affairs Committee Chair, expressed support for the LGPA.  He also defined the term, “minority” as referring to Afro-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans (not sexual orientation minorities).  Tom Merry hosted a wonderful reception for Caucus members at his home.

Caucus sponsored CMEs included:

  • “Hepatitis B Vaccine Strategies” (Dr. Franklin Judson, M.D.), and
  • “Health Education and Discrimination” (developed by Mark Behar, Eric Schuman, Mark Taafel, Bert Kissling, Ron Vachon, and George Steffen).  

A written summary of “Health Education and Discrimination” was given out at the exhibit booth.

Co-Chairs: Darryl Kirk and Rosemary Strube

Membership/Treasurer: George Steffen

Secretary: Deane Bergstrud

Newsletter Editor: Eric Schuman

After the conference, newsletter Editor, Eric Schuman wrote: “1984 was a big step for me because I decided to sign up for time at the booth, something I’d never done before.  Pretty scary, sitting under a sign that says ‘LESBIAN AND GAY PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS’ at a conference with 1500 registrants! There were still people from my program I hadn’t come out to and it seemed like a startling was to do it. To my surprise, the people who passed by and spoke with us were consistently friendly, interested and grateful for the service we were providing with educational materials and CMEs. Those of us who staffed the booth spoke with dozens of students, faculty, and PAs. . .Onward and upward, sisters and brothers!!” 



13th Annual Conference of AAPA

San Antonio

Hospitality suite at the La Mansion del Rio Hotel, reception at the Bonham Exchange.  Members attending the Memorial Day AIDS Candlelight Vigil at the Alamo, almost outnumbered the locals in attendance, in remembering our fallen brothers and sisters. 


  • “Recent Advances in the Diagnosis of Hepatitis” (speaker unknown),
  • “Recognizing, Communicating with and Treating 10% of Your Patients Update” (Rosemary Strube, Eric Schuman, & Vic Picou), and 
  • “AIDS Update” (Dr. David Lyman, MD).

Co-Chairs: Dennis James and Tern McAllister

Membership/Treasurer: Daryl Kirk

Newsletter Editor: Eric Schuman



14th Annual Conference of AAPA


Hospitality suite in the Back Bay Hilton.  LGPA members accepted a House of Delegates initiated statement on HTLV (HIV/AIDS) testing with the strong suggestion to modify the section supporting the testing of all pregnant women exposed to the virus. 

At our business meeting, it was asked that an article be written for an AAPA publication on the history and purpose of the LGPA (Clover and Dennis agreed to do this).  John Gartling volunteered to make an LGPA booth table covering with a stylized logo; Peter Nyquist volunteered to work on the display boards for the booth. Again, Caucus members participated in the Memorial Day AIDS Candlelight Vigil parade from Boston Commons to a local church.

Convention M.A.S.H. Bash saw Caucus members same-sex dancing together; this made little impression since there were more heteros in drag than you would see on San Francisco’s Castro Street on Halloween!!


  • “Breast Disease: Recognition & Treatment” (Sandi Bock, & Dr. Susan Love, M.D.);
  • “AIDS Update” (Mark Behar, Vic Picou, Dennis James, and Dr. Martin Hirsch, M.D.).

Co-Chairs: Tern McAllister and Vince Engle

Membership/Treasurer: Daryl Kirk

Newsletter Editor: Mark Behar



15th Annual Conference of AAPA


LGPA headquarters in the Queen City Suite of the Omni Netherland Plaza.  Caucus members Eric Schuman, John Gartling, Mark Behar, and someone else; were interviewed by the Cincinnati production crew of the Gay Cable Network.

CMEs: “AIDS Update” (Dr. Michael Para, MD).

Co-Chairs: Vince Engel and Grace Landel

Membership/Treasurer: Daryl Kirk

Newsletter Editor: James Wyatt

Shortly after the conference, Vince resigned for personal reasons, and Dennis James took over as male Co-Chair. 



16th Annual Conference of AAPA

Los Angeles

Presidential Suite at the Biltmore served as this year’s headquarters.  Fabulous buffet at the Caucus reception, thanks to Jim Wyatt.

Caucus member, Mark Behar, received honorable mention in the AAPA/Searle Humanitarian PA of the Year Award for his work in developing the Gay & Lesbian Community.

From John Palenicek: “...Many important issues concerning us as Lesbian and Gay practitioners surf aced during these meetings: issues as the level of support we experience from each other during annual meetings: the AAPA definition or understanding of ‘family life’, the formal statement by the AAPA concerning medical care for HIV-infected persons (positive), and the blatant discriminatory information distributed by a ‘family planning’ group at the conference regarding same-sex relations.  We plan to have more CME time focused on alternative family structures, a ‘pre-conference’ focused on emotional support for Lesbian and Gay practitioners, a formal statement of protest from the LGPA regarding anti-gay and anti-lesbian literature, and will assist in the development of a clinically sound, compassionate care for HIV infected persons...”


  • “Against the Fall of Night: HIV Antibody Counseling” (Mark Behar);
  • “AIDS: Legal, Moral, & Ethical Issues” (speaker unknown); and
  • “AIDS and the Gay Bowel” (speaker unknown).

Co-Chairs: Grace Landel and John Palenicek

Membership/Treasurer: Daryl Kirk

Newsletter Editor: James Wyatt



17th Annual Conference of AAPA

Washington, D.C.

Suite at the Omni Shoreham.  Reception at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center.  Many Caucus members participated directly or indirectly in the development of the Academy’s AIDS Policy Paper that was presented and accepted by the House of Delegates.


  • “Current AIDS/HIV Therapies and Vaccine Research” (Anthony Fauci, MD);
  • “Neurological Complications of AIDS” (Justin McArthur, MD);
  • “Women’s Health Concerns Related to HIV” (Janet Horn, MD);
  • “Epidemiology & Social Con sequences of HIV Infection” (John Palenicek);
  • “Women and Breast Cancer: Methods for Detection and Treatment” (Patricia Wilcox, RNP);
  • “HIV Infected Patient: What to do Next?” (Daryl Kirk and others);
  • “Organizational Models for Patient Care” (Richard Chaisson, MD); and
  • “Alternative Family Structures: Eliciting and Understanding Non-traditional Family Structures for Varied Patient Populations” (John Maddix, MSW)

Co-Chairs: John Palenicek and Lyn Govette

Membership/Treasurer: Earle Core

Newsletter Editor: Mark Behar



18th Annual Conference of AAPA

New Orleans

Suite at the Bon Maison and Bourgoyne Guest Houses.  Depending on which year you wish to use as our founding, this was our 10th anniversary. (Caucus idea first born in 1979 in New York; first meetings in 1980 in New Orleans; officially recognized as a Caucus by AAPA in 1981!)

Lyn Govette provided the following synopsis:  “After a few mishaps over rooms and who was staying with whom and when, we all settled in to the conference routine of CMEs.  LGPA social hours, eating, CMEs, eating, eating, and ...oh, did I tell you how good the food was? So many restaurants, so little time! Cafe minus the ‘au lait’ and beignets, the Bon vivant.  Et al. enjoyed the LGPA’s stay! To quote Jay: ‘Ya’ll are so cute!’”

Nightly social hours were held from 5-7 PM for commingling and incurring appetites for the evening (no comments, please). These were well attended by 50 plus people each night. Two business meetings were held during our stay with almost the entire membership present.  John Palenicek and I were invited to attend a meeting with the executive committee and other caucuses to express our interest and concerns.  Randy Bundschu, Debt Atherion, and Steve Nunn our House Advisers attended the final business meeting and elections.  They were impressed with our crazed, but efficient style of meeting!! The only request they made of us was to keep them in formed if we were to invoke the LGPA or any individual Caucus member in some effort—so AAPA could continue its support of our Caucus in a knowledgeable manner.

Our members, as have in the past, were presenters at multiple CMEs. I did catch part of John P’s, all of Lily Gage‘s presentation, “The Care of the H/V infected Patient,” Vic Picou's stress management work shop, and attended Earle Core ‘s talk long enough to tell him that I had to get back to the Guest House and set up for the last social hour. We held our annual LGPA dinner affair at Buffa’s. attended by some 60 of us; good food (alligator gumbo, seafood jambalaya, French bread, red beans & rice), and friendship.”

Co-Chairs: Lyn Govette & Walter Weiss

Membership/Treasurer: Earle Core

Newsletter Editor: Mark Behar



19th Annual Conference of AAPA

San Francisco

Suite at the King George Hotel.  Again the greatest highlight of the conference was...the FOOD!! Lyn, do you ever think of anything else?  In actuality it was the number of our members that showed up for the meetings, almost flowing out into the other rooms!  Various health education issues were suggested and discussed to inform AAPA members and fellow PAs of the special needs and concerns of Lesbians and Gays.  This was a direct result of students attending the “Issues” CME presented by Lyn, Walter, and Dennis.  The “HIV/AIDS Update,” presented by Robert Howell and Howard University students, was well received, too.

At our business meetings a concern was voiced about our Statement of Purpose, although no decision was reached and it will be discussed again in Nash ville.  Suggestions were made to have an exhibit booth in the exhibit hall to increase our visibility and AIDS awareness among our peers and associates.

Our annual party was held in the San Francisco home of Walter Howard and included the traditional California style Black Bean Chili, locally brewed beer, wine, and cheese. A good time was had by all.

Co-Chairs: Walter Weiss and Lyn Govette

Membership/Treasurer: Earle Core

Newsletter Editor: Les DeFacio, Ramona Leach, and Andy Masterson

During the fall Les resigned for personal reasons and Ramona picked up the ball.



20th Annual Conference of AAPA


Hope everyone has recovered from the indoor atmosphere (read artificial air) of the Grand Ole Opry.  For two years running I’ve had a grand time devouring the food of the convention, let’s just say I’m speech less this time!!!  OK, OK, Sandi no negativity!  As always LGPA members were active in all aspects of this year’s convention.  We could be seen in the HOD, monitoring various CME’s, presenting CME’s, and even occasionally attending CME’s.  Our ever present involvement in AAPA continues to receive “kudos” from the Academy membership.  It is a really good feeling for me to be thanked for all of us for our commitment to the academy and our profession. I PASS THIS ALONG TO EACH OF YOU.

During the annual conference the caucus leader ship met with our HOD Advisor and other caucus’ leadership to update our membership status and dis cuss issues pertinent to all caucuses.

Co-Chairs: Andy Masterson and Lyn Govette

Membership/Treasurer: Mark Behar

Newsletter Editor: Ramona Leach

CME: Grace Landel and Liza Rankow



21st Annual Conference of AAPA


June 1993...The whip is passed and I enter the ranks of Dowager/Empress...Speaking of which I for one do miss Dennis, Daryl, John, and other of our ranks who have not been seen since San Francisco...ah, maybe San Antonio will draw the hither again.

Miami...what a way to end...soft moonlit nights (I lie it was the dark of the moon), warm ocean breezes and the phone ringing early every morning...so much for romance!!  Anyway, yes I did enjoy my tenure and highly recommend such notoriety to all. Working with the Academy staff is fun, and having a good excuse to run up my long distance phone bill just to talk with friends appeals...enjoy yourself Jill...but fear not the absolute business calls are reimbursed.

CME presentations were rather slim this year on our favorite subject...gay-bi-les...but others have picked up on the HIV topics which is what we desired.  


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