appleluver7

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 10, 2006
51
0
Status
Pre-Medical
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 :p 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.
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...

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.
 

frycek

Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2005
62
0
Chicago
Status
GoodDoctor, thanks a lot for your post. It made me think a lot about my stage of life when I was coming out, and when I was applying for med school a few years later. For some reason it also made me think of Maslow's Pyramid of Needs. Remember that? There's such a balance as we battle for integrity, try to work for positive change in systems of power, yet also try to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

You know, six years ago, in a small Christian midwestern college, as I struggled to come out, I felt like there was an entire hostile world waiting to reject me when I revealed who I truly was. And then just this past Monday night, a full half of my med school class showed up to a party to congratulate me and my partner of five years on our upcoming commitment ceremony. Besides a certain segment of my extended family, there's really no one in my life who I feel is less than thrilled for me about this relationship and event. I know other people's stories, and I know that I am quite lucky in many ways in how people responded, but I found it to be universally true (with the one exception of my grandma, but she's kind of kooky) that when you open yourself up to someone who knows you, they react to you as a person and to what they know about you, not to you as a newly revealed member of a certain social group.

You've obviously been dealing with this and thinking about it for a long time, and we've all got to try to keep our pyramid upright as best we can, but I guess I just hope that you'll always be able to maintain the hope of being able to fully open yourself to others without fear. I'm not sure if your partner and kids' life mean you need to stay where you're at geographically, but a move to another place as you start med school could do everything for you in this realm. Best of luck to you - it sounds to me like you're going to make it very far.

*******************

Since I'm about to leave the country for a number of weeks (I'm going to work in a medical clinic in Bolivia!) I'll just go ahead and be long-winded, since I'm finding this topic to be something I care a lot about. For those who don't have to face the coming out question themselves, I'd like to try to make two points about it:

1. It's not about increasing one's application chances by getting on the diversity train: it's about trying to be true and open about one's own life and experiences

I certainly understand that the main concern of everyone in this section of SDN is getting into med school - that's why you're here, of course, and that's was my top priority when I was applying. But please try to realize that people have deeper motivations for including/not including things in their application than simple gimmicks to give themselves an upper hand. As I posted previously, secondaries and interviews are largely - primarily, I think - about showing one's strengths as a caring human, and this is an opportunity revealing the deepest things you care about and what makes you tick on an emotional (maybe spiritual) level. And often one's status as a sexual minority is integrally tied to identity, life experiences, and sense of one's place in society. Assuming that someone else is talking about being gay in their application in order to contrive a kind of pseudo-URM advantage says something about the way YOU approach applying, not about them.

2. Not coming out is REMARKABLY more difficult than you could imagine.

Just a little example: I was interviewing at a school in New York City. I hadn't come out on my secondary at this school and wasn't really planning on it during the interview. The very first questions the interviewer asked - a kind of small-talk opener - was "where are you staying in the city?" I was staying in an apartment owned by partner's mom - so I think I said something bland like, "in an apartment that my family owns." He was interested in this, and within another question or two, I had to face the choice of referring to my partner as "he" - coming out - or saying "she," which would have been a ridiculous lie and made me uncomfortable the rest of the interview. So in the first three sentences of small talk, I was out.

If you're straight and you still can't see this, I challenge you to try this: go through a whole day just trying to notice how many times you reveal your "sexuality" in the course of natural conversation. Do you ever mention a former or current boy/girlfriend? You just outed yourself. Ever remark on someone you like or someone you see who's attractive? Out again. Ever talk about going about to a straight bar or club? Once again, you're out. You probably never think about these things because you don't have to constantly monitor your language. THAT's why people usually come out - not because they're excited about the whole world knowing their orientation, but just to be able to have a normal conversation without getting all nervous and having to twist their language.

Okay - the soap box is starting to cave in. I'm off! Best of luck to EVERYONE applying now.
 

jackieMD2007

***MVI***
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2006
2,510
4
The Hospital
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I have no problems with LGBT folks. Actually I have been an ally in the coming out process for a few close friends, and love to celebrate commitment ceremonies.

Just because I feel that folks looking to out themselves in their essays should proceed with careful caution doesn't mean that I think or am fearful that they are trying to gain any sort of upper hand. Rather, my motivation in cautioning them is rooted in my own fear (which I have seen happen to close friends) that others reading the essay, perhaps not as tolerant or as open-minded will reject them based on their own prejudices. Of course this is a risk we all take when we reveal that we belong to all sorts of groups: religious, political, sexual.

Maybe on a secondary somewhere a coming out story would be appropriate. But in a primary personal statement that goes out to ALL of your schools? I think it is a risk that may not be worth taking. Focus on Why Medicine. Focus on how you decided to become a doctor, your commitment to the field.

My heart definitely goes out to all of our friends whose identities are not yet accepted by a lot of society. Hang in there.
 
About the Ads

johnny pollen

sleeping soundly
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2006
55
0
40
chicago, ill.
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey, this is pretty rad, y'all. I'm awfully glad there's a calm, considered, and honest place where the relationship between one's sexuality and one's application is being discussed (with the expected lapses, natch).

Some of my most compelling work experience -- the stuff that finally convinced me that med school is right for me, and the stuff that makes me a fascinatin' stand-out applicant -- doesn't so much beg the question of my own sexuality as traipse my candy all over the place.

But here's the thing: when I've rolled around potential PSs in my mouth (I'm a little while off from application time), I haven't convinced myself that I'm going to "come out." I didn't even come out in my post-bacc application, and that was to a school that was so queer-friendly that their school color is purple.

Part of me is with the GoodDoctor (and Spike Lee) and wants to Do The Right Thing: after all, there are some pretty trenchant and entrenched stereotypes about gay folks that preclude the careful and considered study a prospective medical student usually evinces. Me saying, "I'm here, I'm queer, and I want to become a practicing neurologist" is one small but vital hammerblow against the walls of prejudice.

Then again -- dang, I really want to become a doctor. Why borrow trouble? Why pointedly make an adcom member uncomfortable? This process is hard enough.

Sure, I don't think there are many schools that haven't added "sexual orientation" to their non-discrimination statement -- but if I am rejected, it's not like I have legal avenues to pursue. Unlike the student at Albert Einstein who (if all's true) seems to have some serious ammo, and may still be entrenched in lawsuits, no adcom really has to explain why I've been rejected.

Or do they? I'm a total n00b. Is there some way to "prove" that I was rejected from a school because I'm queer?
 

ratmanar8

New Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 30, 2006
5
0
Status
Pre-Medical
med schools all tout the diversity thing as one of the foremost virtues. sexuality would definently help...throw in some sob story about being discriminated against and you are golden. i am a white, straight male suburbanite...im SOL, especially at the elite schools where they really dig the diversity stuff.
no one is going to discriminate against you, especially in a university setting considering that most of them are social liberals...in fact, you have a leg up on everyone else
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
Moderator
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,739
1,906
Status
Attending Physician
ratmanar8 said:
no one is going to discriminate against you, especially in a university setting considering that most of them are social liberals...in fact, you have a leg up on everyone else
If you really think that organizations, institutions and (especially) people are ever as liberal as they say you are, I think you'll find your opinion will radically change with time.

"No one is going to discriminate against you"? You'll find plenty of discrimination at even the most liberal of colleges. It's just a sad fact of life.
 

gostudy

Black covfefe. No sugar, no cream
10+ Year Member
Oct 18, 2005
8,304
1,531
Status
Attending Physician
Has being gay affected your interest in medicine? If yes, then include it. If no then it's irrelevant. As a black applicant I did not write "hey I'm black look at me." I said as a black male I hope to mentor and serve as a role model for younger URMs interested in science and medicine. This is one of the driving forces in me going to medical school.
 

njshibby

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2005
184
0
Status
I'd say definitely don't...talk about community outreach programs that might involve this . To just say it could be harmful...as tolerant as we hope all our doctors and possible adcom people are it's just not the case...I personally know two doctors who have just flat out inane and pretty disgusting views on LGBT folk..not worth taking the chance that people like that are not the ones evaluating your application...
 

appleluver7

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 10, 2006
51
0
Status
Pre-Medical
notdeadyet said:
If you really think that organizations, institutions and (especially) people are ever as liberal as they say you are, I think you'll find your opinion will radically change with time.

"No one is going to discriminate against you"? You'll find plenty of discrimination at even the most liberal of colleges. It's just a sad fact of life.
What's your basis for this claim? Have you attended all universities in the US to speak first hand?

I have experience (first-hand) with attending Yale College and Brown University. I therefore only feel that I can speak for these two universities. Statistics indicate that 8% of the male population at Brown University is "openly gay", while the percent of closet cases likely makes that figure even higher. The legislature in Rhode Island is considering measures to legalize gay marriage, just as happened in Massachusetts through the Supreme Court there. These speak to the overall climate of the region, but more specifically, Brown and Yale remain even more tolerant of gays than the general northeast as a whole. In fact, the most popular parties of the year at Brown are sponsored by QA (Sex, Power, God and Star****) and most straight people attend these parties. Discrimination against sexual orientation is not an issue at Brown and never has been in recent years, and if it were, the administration would not tolerate it. Ruth Simmons at the helm has helped reinforce a no tolerance policy. I have never met any homophobic people at Brown, and in fact, most people joke that everyone has gay tendencies at Brown. Brown University extends many benefits to gays across the board, and therefore I find your claims that "even the most liberal schools discriminate" to be absurd.

At Yale, the situation is somewhat similar. An article by the wife of a Yale faculty member estimated "1 in 4 or maybe more" at Yale College were gay. This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the school is now known for being very "gay". The one in four is a slight overestimation (figures suggest the number is more around 10%), but gets to the point that Yale is extremely gay as well. The administration remains more conservative than Brown, but still is extremely tolerant and extends open arms to gays, who receive "benefits" that others do not. In fact, Yale was the first university in the US to extend benefits to gays.

I just thought your statement was a bit over the top since it's clear there are some universities where there is no discrimination.

This article helps explore gay culture at Yale: http://jaydixit.com/writing/gayatyale.htm
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
Moderator
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,739
1,906
Status
Attending Physician
appleluver7 said:
What's your basis for this claim? Have you attended all universities in the US to speak first hand?
Yes, I have. You should see my student loans.

appleluver7 said:
I just thought your statement was a bit over the top since it's clear there are some universities where there is no discrimination.
We agree to disagree. There are no universities in which there is no discrimination. If you get a large enough collection of people, regardless of their SATs or GPAs, you will find closed minds and discrimination.
 

appleluver7

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 10, 2006
51
0
Status
Pre-Medical
notdeadyet said:
Yes, I have. You should see my student loans.


We agree to disagree. There are no universities in which there is no discrimination. If you get a large enough collection of people, regardless of their SATs or GPAs, you will find closed minds and discrimination.
Per usual, your comments lack validity and in this case, lack either statistical and/or ethnographic basis. At least I have a plethora of information to back up my claims. Unfortunately, you also express difficulty interpreting my posts. I said in the aforementioned posts that there is no discrimination by the university implying administrators. This statement has nothing to do with students. Moreover, the discrimination by students is extremely limited to the point that it is negligible (obviously every school has a couple students who discriminate but every school also has a couple of racists who hate blacks, don't ya think?). For you to assert otherwise indicates a complete lack of understanding of either Yale or Brown's unique cultures. Maybe you should consider matriculating at these institutions to "test" the validity of my statements.

Finally, your inability to characterize discrimination is interesting. What is discrimination in your terms?

Best Wishes,

Appleluver
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
Moderator
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,739
1,906
Status
Attending Physician
appleluver7 said:
I said in the aforementioned posts that there is no discrimination by the university implying administrators. This statement has nothing to do with students.
Just as an fyi- when you say things like "there are some universities where there is no discrimination", this doesn't imply administrators to most people. This implies the campus community as well. When I say "I love UCLA", I'm not talking about the Chancellor.

appleluver7 said:
Moreover, the discrimination by students is extremely limited to the point that it is negligible (obviously every school has a couple students who discriminate but every school also has a couple of racists who hate blacks, don't ya think?).
Yes, every school has a couple of racists. And a couple of homophobes. That was my point. Hence, my comment "discrimination at even the most liberal of colleges". We're on the same page here. Anyway, hope that clears things up.
 
About the Ads