Thankfully, he said, he had a few classmates who were also queer and open about their identity and relationships, making it easier for him to live truthfully while attending dental school.
“I’m now very proud to be both gay and a dentist,” Dr. Barrera said.
June is Pride Month, which is celebrated in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S. The goal: to commemorate and recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had locally, nationally and internationally.
The New Dentist News spoke with Dr. Barrera to discuss his journey in the profession, why he helped create the Houston Equality Dental Network, and how other dental professionals can be better allies all year.
NDN: What influenced your decision to go into dentistry? Any mentors, possibly within the LGBTQ+ community, along the way?
Dr. Barrera: During high school, I was fortunate enough to take a dental assisting course that my school offered and completed my certification to be a registered dental assistant. I started working part-time at a local community health center and witnessed my mother receive exceptional care after never having been to a dentist before. At the time, my cousin had graduated from dental school and started working at the same health clinic. I soon learned that she was gay and that gave me the confidence to feel more comfortable with my own identity and to seek out a career in dentistry.
What does it mean for you to be a part of both the dental and LGBTQ+ communities?
Dr. Barrera: I work at a health clinic that predominantly serves the LGBTQ+ population of Houston and this is very special to me. The best parts of my work are moments when I see a patient sink into comfort knowing that there is something from their community who they are receiving care from.