The American Lung Association Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Pride Month, celebrated in June, commemorates the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn and the birth of the Gay Rights Movement in America. Since that time, Pride Month has grown to be a global celebration of the diversity, accomplishments, trailblazers, and beauty of the LGBTQ+ community. The American Lung Association is committed to commemorating Pride Month by highlighting the contributions of our LGBTQ+ staff, medical professionals, and volunteers. The Lung Association recognizes and is committed to addressing the health inequities experienced by those in the LGBTQ+ community, including recognizing the disproportionate levels of tobacco-related lung diseases as a result of decades of direct targeting by Big Tobacco. As the trusted champion of lung health, the Lung Association strives for a world free from lung disease and that includes our year-round commitment to reducing health disparities faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Get Social & Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month With Us
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Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term that represents a range of sexual orientations and gender identities. These letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. The plus sign is to indicate the infinite number of identities and orientations such as Pansexual, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Intersex, and Asexual. The language used to talk about LGBTQ+ people is constantly evolving. To learn more, use this glossary of terms. Even though you see sexual orientations and gender identifies all together in this acronym – someone's gender identity tells us nothing about their sexual orientation. To learn more about the spectrum of sex and gender, check out this resource from the Trevor Project. Creating safe and inclusive spaces is essential to adequately address health disparities faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Using inclusive language, including correct pronouns, is an important first step. 

Why Pronouns Matter

Using a person’s chosen name and correct pronouns is a form of mutual respect and basic courtesy. For some of us, our biological sex and gender identity/expression/presentation all align and the people around us correctly assume our pronouns. However, for some of us, this is not the case. It’s important to remember that gender identity is not visible—it’s an internal sense of one’s own gender. A culture that readily asks or provides pronouns is one committed to reducing the risk of disrespect or embarrassment for both parties. For a more complete overview about why pronouns matter in the workplace, read this resource from the Human Rights Campaign. Whether you identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, you should consider getting into the habit of sharing your pronouns when introducing yourself and adding your pronouns to places like your social media profiles and e-mail signature.

Examples of Pronouns:

  • She/Her/Hers
    1. She is an award-winning Pulmonologist. 
  • He/Him/His
    1. He was wearing a Fight For Air Climb t-shirt. 
  • They/Them/Theirs
    1. This is (name) and they are a LUNG FORCE Hero.  
  • Zi/Zir/Zirs
    1. Zi wrote a carefully researched article on asthma.

Gender neutral pronouns, such as the singular use of “they”, are often used in place of “he” or “she”.  

American Dialect Society declared the singular “they” as the 2015 word of the year. Merriam-Webster did the same in 2019. For more information about gender-neutral pronouns, use this resource from the University of Minnesota. 

Webinar: Transgender Cultural Fluency & LGBTQ+ Lung Health Disparities

A general lack of understanding and awareness about LGBTQ+ communities has led to negative impacts on the lung health status of LGBTQ+ Americans, including disparities in tobacco use, COPD and asthma. The transgender community suffers even more significant health inequities due to gaps in data and barriers to quality care, such as misinformation and biases within the U.S. healthcare system. In this webinar, we will hear from Adrien Lawyer, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (TGRCNM), as he shares a “transgender 101” and his personal connection as a trans man and advocate. We will also discuss lung health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community with Jamie Garfield, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Thoracic Medicine and Surgery at the Temple Lung Center of Temple University, and why collecting accurate LGBTQ+ data is important to addressing these disparities.



Jamie Garfield, M.D.

Jamie Garfield, M.D., is an associate professor of clinical thoracic medicine and surgery and an interventional pulmonologist at the Temple Lung Center at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and American Lung Association national spokesperson. Her areas of expertise include lung cancer, screening, lung nodules, smoking cessation, and interventional pulmonology. Dr. Garfield identifies as LGBTQ and has interests in women’s lung disease and health as well as LGBTQ awareness and health. In addition to her clinical and research interests, she is an award-winning leader in quality improvement as well as undergraduate and graduate medical education at LKSOM at Temple University and Temple University Hospital. Read Full Bio

Adrien Lawyer

Adrien Lawyer is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. The TGRCNM is the only organization that provides a wide array of services solely for the transgender community in the state of New Mexico, including food, clothing, monthly bus passes, rapid HIV testing, counseling and much more. Adrien has presented Transgender 101 more than 1700 times all over the state of New Mexico and has been instrumental in doing advocacy at the individual and policy levels. For instance, TGRCNM worked with partners to change the law on birth certificate gender marker updates in New Mexico. He is a transgender man and a father and is working for equality and accessible resources for the entire transgender community.

Lung Health & the LGBTQ+ Community

Tobacco Use

Tobacco Industry Marketing – Project SCUM

Tobacco products are one of the most heavily marketed consumer products in the U.S. In 2018, the nine major cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent $9.06 billion to promote and advertise their products.1 The tobacco industry was one of the first to develop marketing materials specifically targeting the LGBTQ+ community. The most infamous example of this was so-called Project SCUM (which stands for "Subculture Urban Marketing"), a plan by RJ Reynolds in the mid-1990s to market their Red Kamel brand to gay men in San Francisco's Castro District and homeless people in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood.2 Learn more here.

Tobacco Use Rates

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults and youth smoke at substantially higher rates than the general population. The factors driving LGBT disparities in tobacco use include stress due to social stigma and discrimination, peer pressure, aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry and limited access to effective tobacco cessation treatment.3 According to date from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2013-2018, gay men and those who identified as something else (not gay, lesbian or bisexual) had significantly higher cigarette smoking rates compared to straight men, as did gay/lesbian and bisexual women compared to straight women. Straight males had higher rates of e-cigarette use than either gay, bisexual, or males who answered “Not Sure,” while bisexual females had the highest rate of any group, and gay/lesbian females had a greater rate than straight females. E-cigarette use was also greater among gay/lesbian and bisexual females than males.4

Quit Tobacco Use for Good

Quitting isn't easy but more than 50 million ex-smokers in the United States are proof that it's possible. Despite what e-cigarette companies want you to believe, switching to vaping (e-cigarettes) is not quitting smoking. E-cigarettes are tobacco products, they contain nicotine, and FDA has not approved any e-cigarette as a quit smoking device. Enrolling in a tobacco counseling program, such as American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking®, can increase your chances of success by up to 60% when used in combination with FDA-approved medication. 

In addition to a comprehensive quit program, we encourage quitters to join our Freedom From Smoking Inspire Online Discussion and Support Community to stay connected with others along their quit journey, give and receive peer-to-peer support every step along the way, all staying connected and engaged, while following social distancing guidelines. 

If you or someone you know is interested in quitting and would like to take advantage of the Lung Association’s support, they can visit, register today and begin their journey to freedom.   For more information about quitting visit the American Lung Association website at: or call us at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).


Asthma is a chronic (or lifelong) disease that makes it harder to move air in and out of your lungs and can be serious—even life-threatening. From 2013-2018, according to CDC data, gay and bisexual men and women were significantly more likely to have ever been diagnosed with asthma than straight men and women, respectively. Among those with asthma, gay men were significantly more likely to have had an asthma attack in the past year than straight men.Learn more about the basics of asthma.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a long-term lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. The disease affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of disease-related death in the U.S. While 2013-2018 COPD rates did not differ by orientation for either men or women,4 other CDC data from 2017-2019 found sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, or bisexual; 10.3%) were more likely to report having been diagnosed with COPD compared to heterosexuals (6.9%).5

Flu & Pneumonia

Gay men were significantly more likely to have received a flu vaccination in the past 12 months than straight or bisexual men or those who identified as something else according to a 2013-2018 NHIS results. Straight women were more likely to have received a flu vaccination in the past 12 months compared to women of any other orientation. Gay men were significantly more likely to have ever received a pneumonia vaccination compared to straight men, while gay/lesbian and bisexual women were less likely to have done so compared to straight women.4

Data Limitations

The CDC surveys utilized in this webpage only ask about sexual orientation and not gender identity. Similarly, cancer registries do not collect information on either sexual orientation or gender identity. Acknowledgement of this deficiency is growing, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2017 recommending sexual and gender minority data collection by cancer registries. Even if cancer registries added fields for such information tomorrow, they are only aggregating information from healthcare providers who generally do not ask about or document sexual orientation and gender identity, and work is required to change these practices and norms. Finally, despite combining multiple years of data, some sample sizes were too small to allow for accurate estimates for some groups on some measures. Fortunately, such occurrences were rare.6

*Selection options offered by the CDC for respondents were Straight, Gay/Lesbian, Bisexual, Something Else and I Don’t Know the Answer.

Spotlight Series: LGBTQ+ Lung Health Leaders

Lexi Popovici

We honor Lexi Popovici, a Manager of Health Promotions who leads the Smoking and Health Action Coalition of Livingston and Monroe Counties which is based out of upstate New York. As an avid runner suffering from Exercise-Induced Asthma, Lexi’s remains dedicated to promoting lung health, clean air and policy-driven efforts to eliminate lung disease. Her partner, Lindsay Bodine, is an ICU nurse who was at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced the difficulties associated with population health outcomes and comorbidity factors. As a tobacco control advocate, Lexi specializes in community mobilization, public engagement and the implementation of evidence-based strategies to help populations disproportionately affected from the impacts of tobacco and nicotine. Having two grandparents pass away from smoking-related disease has ultimately strengthened her passion to champion lung wellness, to mitigate related health disparities and to prevent youth accessibility of nicotine products.

Lexi Popovici, Manager of Health Promotions who leads the Smoking and Health Action Coalition of Livingston and Monroe Counties

Darlene Hamilton

We honor Darlene Hamilton, our very own National Manager of Donor Relations, a loving mother of five, and wife and partner to Renee Hamilton for the past eight years. Darlene is a lung advocate who knows firsthand the struggles that come with having children and a spouse who cannot breathe due to chronic asthma, from emergency room visits to staying up all night with her youngest daughter, youngest son, and wife on nebulizers. As a young girl, Darlene had to call 911 on a nearby payphone when her mother collapsed in the street from an asthma attack, an experience she says she will never forget. Today, Darlene continues her work with the American Lung Association, working with hundreds of staff and volunteers to achieve our mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. She advocates for her children and wife, as well as for children that struggle with asthma.

Janet Peters

We honor LUNG FORCE Hero, Janet Peters, loving wife and partner of 23 years to Karen Iannella. Karen lost her battle to Stage 4 Lung Cancer at 5:33 p.m. on March 20th, 2019. Karen was just 53 years young and passed away 11 days after receiving the news that she had Stage 4 Lung Cancer which had spread to multiple organs outside of her right lung. Today, Janet is an amazing advocate for the American Lung Association who spends her free time participating in her local LUNG FORCE Walk, is a member of the LUNG FORCE Walk: Providence Event Committee and also sits on the Rhode Island Leadership Board. She advocates for Karen every day and other women and men who have been taken by lung cancer much too soon.

Allan DallaTorre

We honor Allan DallaTorre, a business leader, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce member, and lung health advocate.   His company, LA Event Lights, has been designated as an approved vendor of the Super Bowl LVI Business Connect program. It is one of 230 local diverse businesses in the Los Angeles area identified as a certified, experienced company approved to compete for contracts related to the Super Bowl. Allan and his event team were a key part of LUNG FORCE Walk and Fight For Air Climb in Los Angeles. When his brother contracted COVID-19 in early 2020, Allan stepped up to be an Ambassador in the ”End COVID-19” campaign for the American Lung Association’s Pacific West region. He even spoke on ABC7 about the efforts of the Lung Association and shared how the pandemic affected his family. We thank Allan for his role in bringing our in-person events to life and applaud his leadership in the LGBTQ+ community.

Proud LGBTQ+ Programs & Partnerships:

LGBTQ+ Tobacco Control Project – San Bernardino, California

Spearheaded by the American Lung Association in California, this project focuses on reducing tobacco-related health disparities and improve health equity among African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx, and LGBTQ+ populations. This project is focused on building and maintaining partnerships with the LGBTQ+ community in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial Counties to enact and implement municipal smoke free outdoor dining and bar policies, flavor restriction and tobacco retail licensure policies, and smoke free policies for area Pride events to reduce the impact of tobacco use throughout the community and increase the community’s protections from secondhand smoke and the harms of tobacco use.   

#ProudQuitter Campaign – State of Iowa

To reduce tobacco use rates in the LGBTQ+ community, the American Lung Association in Iowa created the Proud Quitter campaign. This campaign highlights diverse members of the LGBTQ+ community in their own words on how they quit tobacco. The campaign promoted the Iowa Quitline and American Lung Association cessation resources through handouts, social media and video testimonials.

Camp Rehoboth – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

The American Lung Association in Delaware collaborates with a local organization called Camp Rehoboth to expand tobacco education and cessation to LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. Camp Rehoboth is a community service organization dedicated to creating a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Rehoboth Beach and its related communities. Camp Rehoboth has incorporated the American Lung Association’s N-O-T and INDEPTH programs to help their youth quit and stay tobacco-free.

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center – Allentown, Pennsylvania

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania partners with the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center to provide cessation resources and tobacco free signage at pride events. Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center develops LGBTQ+ health programs and after school art and culture programs. The American Lung Association also provides technical assistance to local LGBTQ+ health clinics and advocates for inclusive health systems changes. The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center also serves in leadership in the statewide tobacco control coalition. 

For more information on these programs, please contact [email protected].

Each Breath Blogs

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month (October 2020)

In October of 2020, we highlighted the important history of LGBTQ+ Pride Month starting with the 1969 riot at The Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City, which became a turning point for the LGBTQ+ rights movement as patrons of the bar experienced police brutality simply for congregating. American Lung Association staff and volunteers shared their stories on coming out and what LGBTQ+ History Month means to them. Read more here.

Lung Disease and LGBTQ+ Communities

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have faced a history of oppression and discrimination that directly translates to disproportionate health risks. Read more about lung health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ Americans here.


Listen to a June 2021 episode of our monthly podcast series, Lungcast,™ where our chief medical officer and podcast host Albert Rizzo, M.D., highlights the contributions of Dr. Alan L. Hart in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Dr. Hart, a trans man and medical researcher, was a pioneer in using x-ray technology to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) years prior to the development of epidemiological tests for the disease.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Industry Marketing. 202.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking & Tobacco Use: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons and Tobacco Use. 2019.
  3. Ryan H, et al. Smoking among lesbians, gays and bisexuals: a review of the literature. American Journal of Prevention Medicine. 2001; 21:142-149
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey 2013-2018. Analysis performed by the American Lung Association Research and Program Services Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
  5. Heslin KC, Hall JE. Sexual Orientation Disparities in Risk Factors for Adverse COVID-19–Related Outcomes, by Race/Ethnicity — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2017–2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021; 70:149-154.
  6. Gomez SC, Duffy C, Griggs JJ, John EM. Surveillance of cancer among sexual and gender minority populations: Where are we and where do we need to go? Cancer 2019; 125: 4360-4362.

Page last updated: May 26, 2022

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