Many straight people are insecure about the idea of coming out in a PS. There are many reasons for this, but one of course is that the idea of sexuality being out there for people to view is uncomfortable. A recent commentary in Nature was written by a transgender man at Stanford about how women are still discriminated in the sciences for no good reason. His decision to "come out" in Nature, probably the most prestigious scientific publication available, is admirable. Is there a place for mention of sexuality/gender in Nature? Maybe...as in this case there was a reason for it. Should you write about sexuality in a PS? If there is a reason for it...GoodDoctor said:Well, here comes my soapbox statement for the month (NY and Wash court decisions aren't sitting well, so please allow my ramblings). Since "gay" is such a touchy political topic, it does seem risky to include it. I've posted before that I don't think it's as easy to work into a PS but might work for certain secondary questions. I'm a bit torn on this. Partly because I don't trust other's motives, especially with recent political/judicial/social developements. Partly because I believe I'm an intellegent, dedicated person, and recognize that it takes just such people to stand up and make a difference. I feel a bit sheepish for not wanting to rock the boat until I'm in a better position to be taken seriously (and not have the rug swept out from under me).
In my state (the only one where Clinton finished 3rd in '92, the highest W vote the last two times, and highest % vote for the "destroy gay families" amendment), I feel a bit justified in doing things like dropping pronouns around people who can affect my future. I've got good relationships with a prof I've TA'd for and my PI. My codependent-other and I decided together that it would be unsafe for my future to have him come to the Christmas party or the Dept. pot-luck. Everyone else tells stories about their wife and kids, and I have to avoid talking about my "spouse" of 5 years and his child that I consider my own. I really do believe they would not care at all, but I just don't think I'm in a position to take that chance yet.
OP, it worked out for frycek. You guys sound well-spoken and confident enough to be out to people who can affect your future on a whim. I applaud you for that. I generally have faith in people (perhaps why the recent political events have been so shocking) and especially smart profs, and think that educated adcoms will be fine with a well constructed response that involves being gay. Some might say it's dumb to do it, but that's just a step away from foolhardy, which is just a small leap up to couragous. Good luck.
It is true that writing effectively about being gay can be a plus on committees, assuming it adds to your diversity. This angers many straight applicants who loathe any URM-type advantages. I am sure if I started a thread: "OK to check Native American box if I am 10% Native American?" I would receive hundreds, if not thousands of negative responses, mostly in the form of tirades against my decision to check Native American. This is because people inherently know this is an advantage in a competitive process. They feel the same way about people who write about sexuality. Being gay isn't URM, but it can add some color to the app which is generally bored as ****. I say go for it. Write about your sexuality if it adds. If it doesn't, don't do it. It will seem forced. It's really important to realize that most of the people on this board have little knowledge of what makes a good PS, so they can't judge. Consider the source: many premeds are not the best writers nor the most interesting people...Many simply can't relate outside the organic bubble and studying 10+ hours a day, MCATS, and standardized testing on the physical sciences. As a result, you should listen to your heart and others. The people who will read the essays will be sympathetic if you feel you have overcome something as part of being gay.