Coming out proud: Pride Veterinary Medical Community presents awards

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Drs. Gorczyca, Cary, and Merck
Dr. Ken Gorczyca, recipient of the Pride Veterinary Medical Community's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Dr. Mia Cary (middle), recipient of the inaugural Pride VMC Leadership Award, pose for a photo with Dr. Melinda Merck (right), Pride VMC president. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Dr. Mia Cary, AVMA chief of professional services and strategic alliances, was awarded the Pride Veterinary Medical Community's inaugural Leadership Award. Dr. Ken Gorczyca, co-founder of Pride VMC, formerly the Lesbian and Gay VMA, was honored with the Pride VMC's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Drs. Cary and Gorczyca received the awards during the group's Coming Out Reception on July 14 at AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver.

"The Pride VMC mission of everyone living to their full potential is not just important to me personally but to the entire veterinary profession," Dr. Cary said in an AVMA press release. "I am honored and delighted to receive this award and look forward to continue serving the Pride VMC."

The Pride VMC Leadership Award is given to an individual who has been an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and has sought to fulfill the organization's mission of "a veterinary profession in which everyone can live to their full potential, have the ability to conduct their lives openly and with integrity, and are free to share their experience and wisdom for the betterment of themselves, our profession, our clients and all animals."

Pride VMC credits Dr. Cary with being a leader and proponent of diversity and well-being in the veterinary community, initiating many avenues of support and opportunities for the organization. "She has been a key driver in our partnership with AVMA and was part of our strategic planning meeting in Indianapolis which helped give the LGVMA team momentum to evolve into its modern manifestation of PRIDE VMC," according to a news release from the organization.

In the 1980s, Dr. Gorczyca practiced small animal medicine in San Francisco during the dawn of the AIDS pandemic. Identifying an unmet need in the crisis, he became one of the founding veterinarians for Pets Are Wonderful Support, a nonprofit service and education organization helping people with AIDS keep their pets. He was editor of the PAWS Safe Pet Guidelines, which made the case that animal companionship was a form of medicine and that there were ways to minimize potential zoonotic risk from pets to people with AIDS and other immunosuppressive diseases through basic hygiene, proper diet, and regular veterinary care.

In 1992, Dr. Gorczyca helped start the International Membership of Gay and Lesbian Animal Doctors, which was renamed as the Lesbian and Gay VMA in 1994. He has served the organization in various ways over the years, including as editor of the Good News! newsletter, mentor, and board member.

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Campaign pushes for profession to recognize third gender option (June 1, 2018)