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"Coming Out" in your apps and beyond (LGBT)

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by notreallysure, 02.21.12.

  1. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    I have a lab report due tomorrow so naturally I am starting a thread on SDN to procrastinate (but at least I have been accepted so technically I don't have to try too hard - though the premed inside me prob still will haha)

    anyway, I thought it would be a good idea for future applicants/current students to share their experiences with being LGBT and applying/attending medical school, or even residency or practicing.
    Why you ask? because medicine is a traditionally conservative field, and with the U.S. already being one of the slowest Western countries in the fight for civil rights, the subject is still touchy. I would personally like to hear how other people dealt with their sexual orientation and what benefits/consequences it has had.

    I guess I'll start:
    I personally did not decide to either "come out" or not disclose my sexual orientation in a general sense. I had no information regarding it in my AMCAS, but if a question on a secondary related to the subject for me, then I fully disclosed it. For example, many schools asked about a difficult obstacle you faced, or what diversity you may bring, etc.
    I guess I did not feel the need to shove it in adcoms face in a way that I seemed like I thought being LGBT was equivalent to being URM, but at the same time, it is a large part of my life and has affected the person I am to a great extent, and I didn't want to ignore that.

    I don't want to disclose too much, but I personally found success in this method.
    Out of the 4 schools I had heard a decision from, I talked about being LGBT significantly during the interview at 2 of them. I was accepted to both of those schools, and waitlisted at the other two.

    Moreover, of the 6 schools I have interviewed at so far, I talked about being LGBT in either 2 or 3 of their secondaries (out of the total maybe 5 - 7 secondaries that it was brought up).

    I am in no way saying that it gave me an advantage, and this could all just be a coincidence, but I at least want to show fellow applicants that at the very least, it won't hurt you. Of course, there may be schools were it does, especially if the school is extremely conservative (Loma Linda, Mid-West, etc.) or if you get unlucky and the person reviewing your app happens to react negatively to your "lifestyle." - but I personally wouldn't want to attend those schools either (even if this is not reflective of the student body, I don't want a close-minded administration or atmosphere in general)

    **Please correct me if I'm wrong about Loma Linda, etc. I do not mean to generalize, and certainly am not suggesting that everyone who attends or works at these institutions are close-minded, but I think its safe to say with LL's contract, they are more generally conservative, as compared to schools such as NYU haha

    Anyway, I am already foreshadowing that this thread may run quickly off into a tangent about gay rights, etc. But my intention is to have a thread were future/current LGBT students can look to to see how other applicants handled it. If there is already one, sorry, but reading threads wasn't as good of a method of procrastination as writing this was :laugh:.

    :luck: to all this cycle!
  2. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Linking a complete mdapps to your profile and stating all of the relevant information in it is actually probably the best way to disseminate this kind of information.
  3. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    I'm not sure I see your point. I personally want to refrain from linking these profiles in order to stay more anonymous. Regardless, I was specifically sharing and asking for LGBT experiences, unrelated to MCAT/GPA/EC or anything that an MDapp would provide.
  4. candav

    candav

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    Great, thank you for this. I wish I had found resources like this when I was applying last June, because I was quite wary of mentioning my sexual orientation in any of my applications. I did talk about coming out in some secondaries, specifically in response to the "greatest challenge" prompt; any other response there wouldn't have felt right, to me. Still, I was hesitant and didn't really have anyone to talk to about this, as most of my queer friends are of the drama/English crowd. I'm glad this is here now!

    I will link a very informative and relevant MDapps, though, as it is public and, I assume, fair game: http://mdapplicants.com/profile.php?id=24424
  5. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    I guess what I'm saying is that a general overview, with no specific details about schools except ones you didn't even apply to, isn't really going to help anyone. The fact that you're gay is currently seen in isolation, and your telling us that you mentioned your sexual orientation and were accepted at two unidentified schools doesn't provide any new information; we know that gay people are regularly accepted to medical school. Some schools even regularly recruit them. The specifics are actually important here.
  6. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    thanks for that contribution! and congratz on your Johns Hopkins acceptance! it is an incredible institution.
  7. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    I see your point, and I agree that providing specifics would help, but I don't think it completely diminishes the value of my post. I'm not encouraging people to apply to the same schools that I was accepted to just because we both happen to be gay, but rather share my experiences of discussing being gay in an interview/secondary.
    Either way, as I stated in my post, I have chosen to remain more anonymous as I have visited schools that openly admit to reading SDN (weird/scary :scared:), but perhaps I will provide this information at the end of the session.
  8. Bartemius

    Bartemius

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    hey! we're generally pretty chill and with the times in the upper midwest (i.e. wisconsin, minnesota, illinois, iowa, indiana, ohio, excluding south dakota and north dakota because of their obvious pointlessness). you should've picked the south as your example instead. just sayin...(and no offense to any southerners, unless you're intolerant and whatnot)
  9. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    haha you are right. like i said further down in my post, didn't mean to generalize or call anyone out. when i said mid-west, I was definitely thinking Alabama, Mississippi, etc., which is South, but still, someone will combat that statement as well. anyway, someone needs to own up to the fact that some regions are GENERALLY more conservative and intolerant haha. but fwiw, i'd totally come to school up where you are then directly below you.
  10. thlaxer

    thlaxer Passable Paperweight

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    Yup, UChicago and Northwestern are both very accepting of LGBT students (see the Pritzker Podcasts on LGBT issues and also Feinberg's diversity office). My experiences were pretty similar to everyone else's here regarding being out in the application. It was never brought up as a negative in any interview.
  11. notreallysure

    notreallysure

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    I totally agree, I (wrongly) consider chicago as east-coast-ish. I guess when I say mid-west, I meant Kansas, the Dakotas, and the southern states I mentioned. But as you pointed out, Ohio and the surrounding states fall into this category, and have accepting schools.

    I do want to point out, however, that many of the mid-west schools that are accepting are located in urban areas, which is generally associated with a more liberal agenda. but then again, there are plenty of rural conservative places all over the east and west coast as well, so I rest my case.

    I'm glad that you had a positive experience coming out in your application and that you found success! yay for future LGBT doctors!!!!
    I mean....I do have to find one to marry, right?? :rolleyes:
  12. Tots

    Tots c/o 2017 Moderator

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    Haven't applied yet so not terribly sure how I will approach it. I might come up in one of the "most meaningful" descriptions since it is partly related to why that activity was so meaningful for me. Not sure if I want to take this approach though it most likely will come in some secondaries since it is just the most honest and relevant answer to some of those questions.
  13. eptp

    eptp

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    I was definitely open about being a part of the glbtq community in my app (both my primary and in some secondaries where I found appropriate). I also ended up listing specific activities where it was clear I was involved in glbtq work. It took a lot of asking around and I definitely wondered if I should just play it "safe" but instead, I took the approach of "yes it is a part of me but dont see me as just that". The glbtq community was built on being outspoken and not being afraid of being yourself. I want to go into medical school and beyond with that same mentality and so far, it hasn't been too shabby.

    Love this thread by the way! I'd love to hear how all of you are doing through this cycle and see what others have to say! :)
  14. percy

    percy

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    There has been the occasional thread addressing the G-bomb, and I'm always glad when it happens. As Candav suggested, there aren't many resources or people talking about this.

    I've dropped a few posts on this topic, so I'll do a little copy/pasting in response to the relative success OP seems to have had:

    So far, I've completed nearly 30 secondaries, 70% of which contained an explicit reference to my sexuality. Of these schools, I was offered interviews at 88% of those I didn’t withdraw from—versus <50% of the rest. As I write this, 100% (n=6) of my acceptances have come from this pool.

    Most of the time, I erred on the side of understatement and relevance, showing how my identity and my being part of the LGBT community have shaped my story and impacted my ambitions. But there were a few "experimental" (read: ridiculous) secondaries I don't think I'd ever suggest that someone emulate, mostly because they were designed to satisfy my curiosity about schools' LGBT-friendliness and the limits of the application process as a whole. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

    Take-home message: Be yourself. (Or, if you're anything like me: You can say whatever the hell you want! Um, but try your best not to.)
  15. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    I was out in my secondaries. If I had participated in an Alliance group during college I would have mentioned it in my primary as well. I mentioned it because I thought it was a meaningful part of my life (obviously this will vary between person). It did make me nervous, however the point of the admissions cycle is for schools to get to know and understand you.

    My advice would be to just do what you are comfortable with. If you don't want to bring it up you don't have to.
  16. tryp

    tryp

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    I am in Canada, so the stigma is a bit different, though it can still be present.

    I had a couple of extracurriculars related to LGBT issues and I did consider not listing them, but I felt they helped establish a pattern of the kind of volunteering I am interested in doing, so I ended up listing them. But I didn't really bring up being LGBT during interviews or personal statements because I don't think it's very relevant to me.

    I could have discussed it as a challenge I have faced, but I had other options for that question that I felt were more relevant/told a better story. I think being LGBT is less important to my identity than it used to be - I can literally go weeks-months without ever really even thinking about being different in that way.
  17. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    oh yeah get ready for the "pseudo-gays" to start applying. There are is going to be a storm.
  18. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    Can you comment on the stigma in Canada vs America?
  19. percy

    percy

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    Buddy, you need to get some. :)
    Last edited: 02.22.12
  20. tryp

    tryp

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    Personally I haven't noticed a big difference - when I lived in the US, I lived in NYC, which is a very accepting place to live. In both places, my gf and I occasionally get weird looks. Perhaps a little more in the States.

    Of course, legally we can marry in Canada and are legally protected to a larger degree, so that does make me feel less stigmatized living up here.
  21. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    I recommend against throwing that information out there in an unsolicited way. Your sexual orientation has no direct bearing on your ability as a future physician, though it certainly might shape your views in ways that might be valuable (e.g., aware of healthcare disparities, understand the needs of underserved populations, etc.). I think you approached it correctly by discussing it only when "prompted" or appropriate.

    As long as you discuss it tactfully and professionally, it won't harm you (yes, even in the south).
  22. thlaxer

    thlaxer Passable Paperweight

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    Lol yeah. I can sadly see this happening ("I used to have thoughts about a guy in middle school, can I list myself as being gay?" :uhno:). Still, I think that this discussion is useful for future applicants who might otherwise be afraid to 'be themselves' in their application. That said though, this is a very personal decision and they should do what they feel most comfortable with. Coming out in hopes of getting an advantage is a horrible way to go about things :/.

    I agree :thumbup:, some common sense needs to be used. An interviewer did say that some applicants try too hard to be out in their application and it ends up hurting them. Claiming you're out but then being uncomfortable with talking about it during the interview is also seen negatively from what I've heard. Not sure how others approached this, but I just used two sentences to mention I was gay in the diversity essays and that was it. Never brought it up in an interview unless the interviewer asked me about it (which surprisingly happened fairly often).
  23. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    I mean, obviously, this is the key, as it is with anything you put in your application. I disagree that you need be prompted specifically, especially if being gay and working with gay populations has shaped your view of medicine. I can imagine that had I worked extensively (key word: extensively) with the HIV/AIDS populations, I might have even thrown it into my PS. But there are myriad secondary prompts that might lead to this revelation, and multiple schools even recruit LGBT applicants, so disclosing in a way that demonstrates the unique perspective that being gay gives you is, in my opinion, often a good idea.
  24. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Yeah, the diversity essays were where it really became appropriate for me, for the most part.

    Penn State's application, in particular, was very nicely structured for gay applicants who want to reveal, requiring only 50 words in what I would loosely call its diversity essay.
  25. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    Lmao,

    Interviewer "So, how are you today?"
    Interviewee "Good, I'm gay. Yourself?"
  26. thlaxer

    thlaxer Passable Paperweight

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    Yup, I feel that the diversity essay is the most natural place for applicants to come out if they're comfortable with doing so. Especially true for people who (like me) had no EC involvement with the LGBT community.

    Out of curiosity, what was Penn State's prompt?

    I lol'd :laugh:.
  27. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    "Is there a unique aspect of your application that should be considered by the admissions committee? (Maximum 50 words)"

    50 words means you have get your point across quickly, which is something I excel at, not that my contributions to pre-allo display that particularly well. Penn State's was actually fun to fill out because of the word limit.
  28. thlaxer

    thlaxer Passable Paperweight

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    I suck with word limits :(. Had to get creative with some of my responses lol.
  29. percy

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    :thumbup:

    I often see three types of responses on these threads:

    1) Non-introspective queer folks who swear that LGBT is such a nonissue,
    2) Straight people (and indeed, often the same ones) who proffer generalized advice that disagrees with...
    3) Queer people who have dealt with (and often, benefited from) the way they have handled this question firsthand.

    If the application were just a way to shed light on my direct abilities as a "future physician," I reckon my secondary prompts would look very different. Perhaps my case is an extreme, but many of my secondaries (probably most) had no direct reference to medicine, but rather (in this case) to competencies for diversity and storytelling (both of which I imagine I'll find consummately useful as a doc).
  30. Brachyury

    Brachyury

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    If any pre-med has questions about being 'out' in your application, particularly to institutions in the south, feel free to message me.
  31. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    I'm almost certain that I'm in this category. I don't imagine that I would have gotten an interview from Cooper, especially, or Penn State without this in my application.
  32. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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    as you fly a wink in their general direction
  33. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    I hope they'd at least wink back out of courtesy; Some of my interviewers have been super cute. :love::love:
  34. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    Eh. There is something about an overly nervous pre-med trying to appear confident that just does it for me.
  35. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    I agree with all of this. However I wanted to caution people against simply throwing this information out there in the hopes that it might be viewed positively. If being LGBTwhatever has had a significant impact on you in ways that are worth discussing, you should bring it up. What I'm advising against is simply throwing a whole bunch of unelaborated information in the hopes that some "sticks" with the idea that the basic quality of being LGBT is inherently desirable or valuable. It might be, but you should have some experiences ready to demonstrate how or why.
  36. candav

    candav

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    I had this issue, too. I considered mentioning it in the diversity essay, but I couldn't think of anything to say besides, "I'm gay." I had no obvious extracurricular involvements in the queer community, and I had never really given much thought to the impact of my sexual orientation on my motivations for medicine. Obviously, as percy said, introspection is key, but these things take time, and I didn't start thinking about the secondary essay prompts until I'd received the secondary essays.

    I think I ended up talking about being an immigrant and working in immigrant communities in my diversity essays (probably the most generic "diversity" theme out there). Then again, much of the time these same secondaries had a "greatest challenge" prompt, for which I did mention coming out (I felt it fit much better there; my coming out story is a hot mess), so it balanced out.
  37. beethousand

    beethousand

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    Anybody know of transgender folks going through the app process? They are often the biggest victims of discrimination...
    Last edited: 07.01.14
  38. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Hey, baby.
  39. Tots

    Tots c/o 2017 Moderator

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    Im surprised :eek:. I think this is the most constructive thread about being LGBT and applying to med school yet. Usually they just turn into chaos.
  40. tvelocity514

    tvelocity514

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    I live in the "Bible belt" and unfortunately, I think expressing your sexual orientation would be more harmful than beneficial here. Although, I think one or two schools have a more....liberal perspective and therefore can be approached differently. Either way I wouldn't state it from here because since I live in a strictly republican population, I have more of a chance of getting harmed in the process. I will be applying to some northern places though and agree that people can be less hesitant with schools up there.
  41. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    To be honest, I had a good experience in Nashville at Meharry, though I don't know how indicative that is of the South as a whole.
  42. tvelocity514

    tvelocity514

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    Oh that's good. Yeah I live around the Georgia, SC, NC area but I'm sure they have similar values.
  43. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    everyone who would say something negative is on probation. Thank the SDN mods
  44. tantacles

    tantacles Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    One of 'em is even banned.
  45. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    I met a M to F applicant a year or two ago.... she had more than one offer. I don't have any more details than that.

    I can't recall ever seeing more than that single application in all these years -- then again, it is possible that someone might not out themselves in the application....
  46. Seven of Nine

    Seven of Nine

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    Look through the curriculum of your top choice schools or contact the school (anonymously or not) to ask if they have any relevant programming. You may be pleasantly to find that schools are becoming more progressive and are including sexuality topics in their curriculum. Even though medicine has been conservative in the past, the fact of the matter is we do have patients who identify as lgbt, and we need to be able to address their needs.

    Would you want to spend four years going to a school that isn't lgbt-friendly if you identify as such?

    Also, reiterating what was said before, and this goes for including any type of information in applications. Answer the question that is being asked. If coming out or alluding to your sexuality supports/strengthens your answer, then include it.
  47. angemon89

    angemon89

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    I didn't plan on "coming out" unless a secondary asks a question where I feel it is appropriate to talk about it. After all, it is a big part of my life and something I have to deal with it every day.

    However, because I am involved in my school's LGBT community/activities, I guess I will be sort of outed in my primary.

    Because I am in California and hoping to get into a CA school I am not worried so much. I will be applying next cycle.

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