On Being Gay In Medicine: A Leading Harvard Pediatrician’s Story

Dr. Mark Schuster, Harvard Medical School professor and Chief of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston

Dr. Mark Schuster is the William Berenberg Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Chief of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston. This essay is based on remarks he made as the featured speaker at the Children’s Hospital Boston GLBT & Friends Celebration in June, 2010, and has just been published in the journal “Academic Pediatrics.” We post it here with his permission.

The first time I stood before a large audience to speak was when I was 13 years old. It was at my Bar Mitzvah. I walked up to the podium, looked out over the sea of faces, and thought to myself, I am a homosexual standing in front of all of these people. And I wondered what would happen if I told them.

That was in 1972, and even mentioning the word homosexual, unless paired with an expletive or derogatory adjective, would have been unacceptable at my synagogue. It would have been unacceptable in my home, my school, or any place I knew. I could not have conceived of telling my doctor. I assumed that I would never say out loud that I am a homosexual. The idea that I would someday be able to stand in an auditorium, stand anywhere, just a few miles from where I live with my husband, our two sons, and our dog, with everything but the white picket fence, was not something I could imagine.

He made it clear that he wasn’t going to operate on a lesbian. Then I heard a voice shout, “So, she’s a lesbian, what does it matter!” And then I realized that the voice was mine.

 

Today I stand on a different stage. The Children’s Hospital Boston GLBT and Friends group asked me to share my story as part of its celebration day. How I got here, what I learned along the way, especially at Children’s, and how the world changed — these are what I will talk about.

A decade after I considered turning my Bar Mitzvah into a public confessional, I entered medical school at Harvard. Some students had started a gay group the year before. They had scoped out the territory, searched for role models, and come up nearly empty. In a creaky old closet, tucked way in the back, they found a world-renowned senior physician at Children’s. He advised against starting the group, offering that it was much better to be secretive about being gay so that no one would bother you. I’ve heard that same advice many times from men and women from earlier generations who had fewer options in their day.

Around the same time, a Harvard physician I later met was just coming out. He was spotted at a social event with someone his hospital’s Chairman of the Board suspected was gay. The Chairman reported to the hospital that he thought the physician was gay too and said that people like that should not be allowed to work there. Fortunately, the CEO ignored the Chairman.

There was a junior faculty member at Beth Israel Hospital who was out and actually willing to talk with gay students. When I made my pilgrimage to meet her, even she advised me to remain closeted until after I got my first semester grades. She explained that the school would want to kick me out if they learned I was gay, and they could use poor grades as an excuse.

That’s not to say that there was silence about gay people. We did learn about them in an elective course on “special” populations. One week we learned about prostitution; another, about drug addicts. In between, we learned about homosexuals. A real live one showed up to tell us what it was like. He was articulate and our own age and seemed just like all of us. Indeed, I knew him. We had gone to college together and he was a student at Harvard Law School. I sat in awe of his bravery and prayed no one had seen him say hi to me.

I came out to classmates I felt close to. They were mostly supportive. One time I was talking with a classmate about a guy who had asked me out on a date. She confessed that she had thought that being gay meant simply that men had sex with men; it had never occurred to her that they might actually go to a movie or fall in love. Her honesty gave me a window into what many peers believed, as I would learn repeatedly over the years when people let down their guard.

During medical school, I was on the admissions committee. Two people interviewed each applicant and then presented to the rest of the committee. There was an applicant who was outstanding in every category; I gave him a 10 out of 10. The other committee member who in- terviewed him, a doctor at Children’s, gave him the worst score we’d seen. His record at one of the top schools in the country meant that he would have had to have confessed to murder, or worse, preferring Yale to Harvard, to get such a low score. We waited to hear the explanation. He said that he just didn’t feel “comfortable” with the applicant.

The committee was baffled. I wasn’t, because I had met the applicant. He was a man who was effeminate. I didn’t know if he was gay, but I did know that he was someone who was likely to have been called names or to have been roughed up because people thought he was. The doctor who had interviewed him already had a reputation at Harvard College, where he helped premeds put together their applications for medical school. Gay students knew to avoid being assigned to him.

I thought back to myself as a young man who wondered why he was applying to medical school when he kept hearing that he would have to choose between being a doctor and being openly gay.

As it turned out, with no articulated explanation for the low score, the committee was unconvinced and went with my score. The applicant was admitted, got an MD/PhD, eventually came out as gay, and has gone on to do important work in transgender studies. I wasn’t sorry that the doctor who had interviewed him left Children’s before I began residency here.

A year later I was doing my rotations. On my adult neurology rotation, a young woman came to the emergency ward with urinary incontinence and other symptoms and signs of a herniated disc. The myelogram confirmed the diagnosis. The neurosurgeon was eager to operate. The neurology team was delighted that she was a great teaching case. But she proved a richer teaching case than we anticipated. The neurosurgeon abruptly canceled the operation. It turned out that the radiologist had reversed his reading.

When pressed as to why he no longer saw what even a third-year medical student could see (that would be me), he confessed that the neurosurgeon had pressured him to change his read. When our team met with the neurosurgeon, he was direct. He had seen what he assumed to be a lesbian novel at the patient’s bedside, and he wasn’t going to operate. His rationalization was that she might have inserted something into her urethra that caused her incontinence. He had no research or case studies to support his theory. He had no explanation for why a lesbian would do this. He had no explanation for why it wasn’t showing up on x-ray. He made it clear, though, that he wasn’t going to operate on a lesbian.

Then I heard a voice shout, “So, she’s a lesbian, what does it matter!” And then I realized that the voice was mine. There was a moment of silence as everyone turned to look at me, jaws agape. The neurosurgeon burst forth with questions. How do you know? Did she tell you? What did she say? Indeed, she hadn’t said anything. It was just that she and the woman by her side during all of this were the most obviously devoted couple I’d met in any of my rotations yet. The neurosurgeon held firm. To their credit, the neurology team got orthopedics to perform the surgery.

On another rotation, I was on a consult service that helped diagnose a man with AIDS. His case hit home. He had just moved across the country with his boyfriend, who was a first-year Harvard medical student. The pulmonary fellow on our team, a generally kind man, grumbled to me that he hated having to go into this patient’s room. And so we didn’t go in much. The patient’s intern also avoided him, even managing to find herself too busy to perform a timed blood draw one night for a key lab test. I was still there writing my consult note, so after several attempts to gently remind her to take a break from having a light evening and chatting with staff, I just did it myself. This patient was not unlike any number of patients at hospitals around the country, wondering why the clinicians who were supposed to provide care and comfort appeared to be avoiding and even judging them.

He eventually died. His surviving boyfriend, the medical student, joined some other medical students and me at the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. While there, our visit to the AIDS quilt, a collection of panels that each represented someone who had been lost, was particu- larly poignant as we remembered my former patient and so many other patients and friends.

Later, during residency, we had a child in the neonatal intensive care unit with two moms. The primary nurse assigned to him was incoherent on rounds. She couldn’t contain her distaste for the boy’s parents. She didn’t want either mom around, including the one who had given birth. The charge nurse pulled her off the case. This was the same neonatal intensive care unit in which staff also found it hilarious that a female utilization review administrator used to be a man; they snickered and whispered within earshot when she was there. I encountered the same infant again a few months later on the wards when he was admitted with bronchiolitis. There the nurses and physicians treated the moms with all the respect that every parent should receive.

After my third year, I entered a joint masters program at the Kennedy School of Government. Having benefitted from the peer support of the medical school gay group, I teamed up with some other students to start one at the Kennedy School. We organized a public screening of a documentary about the life of Harvey Milk, an early gay rights leader who was assassinated. I agreed to do the introductory speech for the evening. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend, a junior faculty member at the law school who was concerned about getting tenure, he told me that word would certainly get back to the medical school and I would not get a residency. That gave me pause. He also told me he would have to break up with me because he wouldn’t be able to be seen with me once I came out publicly.

That was eye-opening in so many ways, and basically guaranteed that I would go ahead and introduce the evening. We had tried to meet with the dean to invite him to make some remarks at the event, but he wouldn’t even talk with us. Through his assistant, he declined to attend the event, but he did send a letter for us to read. It talked about the joys of running for public office. It mentioned nothing about being gay or our new student group. His letter became an object lesson for the school, with the audience laughing vigorously at the words so carefully chosen to avoid giving any hint of support for our group.

A few months later it was time for me to pick medical school rotations for the summer, so I met with my attending from my pediatrics rotation at Children’s, who was also a member of the admissions committee for the pediatrics residency. He had decided that he should be my advisor. He told me that I was definitely going to get into Children’s for residency so I should take the opportunity to do adult rotations because I’d get plenty of pediatrics for the rest of my career. He told me who should write my recommendations, with him being at the top of his list. At the end of our conversation, I told him I had one more thing I wanted to talk about. I told him I was gay.

I felt I had to. He was inquisitive about his advisees’ personal lives, often asking us who each other was dating, and I didn’t want him to hear from someone else and think I didn’t trust him. Plus, my most important example of leadership, which was presumably something that residencies looked at, involved the Kennedy School gay group. He looked stunned. He said nothing for a long time. Then he asked if I had told anyone else at the hospital. I said that I hadn’t, and he told me not to tell anybody. I left, not sure of what to make of our meeting.

After the summer, I came back to meet with him to finalize my residency applications. The only new grade that had come in at that point was an A+ on my end-of-the-first-year masters project. I went back over my list of recommenders because I thought I should add an attending from the summer. That’s when he informed me that he would not be writing me a recommendation. This time I was the one who was stunned. I hadn’t seen it coming. It wasn’t lost on me that without a letter from the attending of my only pediatric rotation, I wouldn’t be able to become a pediatrician. That boyfriend who had told me that word would get back to the medical school and keep me from getting a residency was right. What he hadn’t anticipated was that I would be the messenger.

So now I was in a bit of a tight spot. I had been scheduled to take my final masters courses that fall, but I canceled them and looked for open pediatric rotations. Luckily, the two I found on short notice had wonderful attendings, Ken McIntosh and Bill Berenberg. Without their recommendations, I could not have applied in pediatrics anywhere. This makes the fact that my endowed professor- ship is named for Dr. Berenberg a particularly special privilege.

It may seem odd that I didn’t complain to anyone, but there was no one at the medical school or the hospital to whom I or my gay classmates thought it was safe to complain. There were no policies to protect us; no griev- ance boards; no mechanisms in place. Times have changed, but I still have undergrads ask me if they can come out in their medical school applications and medical students ask if they can come out in their residency applications. Yes, times have changed, but they have not changed enough.

I wound up matching at Children’s and went through residency afraid that if the faculty found out about me, I could be mistreated or marginalized. I felt like I understood why the Children’s professor had said several years before that it was better to be secretive so that no one will bother you. But I didn’t agree with him. I told myself that I would never again hide my orientation in an application or work in a place where I feared being out.

Residency left little time for a social life, but I did get out every now and then. One night I was in a line for an AIDS fundraiser. Suddenly there were shouts and we found ourselves being chased down the street by a group of guys with baseball bats yelling, “Faggots, go home!” After they’d made their point, they cleared out, leaving a man lying unconscious in the street. I ran back to help him. A nurse from Children’s also appeared. The man was cut and bloody. He was responsive to pain but not arousable. We tended to him until the ambulance came. From what I later read in the local gay newspaper, he remained cogni- tively impaired.

After residency, I moved to L.A. for fellowship and stayed for 16 years. I was open in my daily life. It was nice. I overheard fewer fag jokes, no one was trying to fix me up with their sister, and I became a resource for people of all ages who were coming out and scared. I brought my boyfriend Jeff, now my husband, to work events. I apparently was the first person to bring a same- gender partner to such things. A senior faculty member came into my office one day, closed the door, and com- mented on my bringing Jeff to events. He then awkwardly told me that he was gay and had a partner. I never did see him bring his partner to a work function, but I think it pleased him to know that things were different for the next generation.

I could not believe that in a mere two decades we had gone from “I’ve decided not to write you a recommendation” to “Your job is to get this guy’s partner a fellowship.”
 Years passed and I found myself looking at job opportunities on the east coast. An institution I was excited about invited me to interview. Before I’d even visited, the chair offered a recruitment package that blew me away. Everything sounded great. I asked on the phone whether there were domestic partner benefits. It was a perfunctory question, because given the city, I assumed the answer would be yes. By that point, most Fortune 100 companies had them. Turns out they didn’t, but they said they’d cover Jeff’s benefits to accommodate me. I explained that I appreciated the gesture, but I wasn’t interested in working in a place that didn’t have partner benefits for everyone.

That was on a Friday. On Monday they called back with news. They had committed to starting domestic partner benefits with the new year. This was remarkable. This was an insti- tution at which the residents, who were unionized, had recently included such benefits on their list of demands, only to have the administration refuse to come to the bar- gaining table unless that demand was removed. In the end, after visiting, I decided not to accept their offer, but they nevertheless followed through and implemented partner benefits. A simple nudge from outside an institution can sometimes have more impact than repeated requests from within.

Not long after, Gary Fleisher, our physician-in-chief, approached me about a search that was opening up for the position I’m now in. As I explored, I was surprised at how different the place seemed from when I was a resident and how comfortable I felt. My family wasn’t just something that was acknowledged but rather it was embraced. I was treated like any other recruit for a division chief position, with our hospital president Sandi Fenwick, Gary Fleisher, and others offering to help my spouse find a job and advising on how to find a preschool for our kids. There was something very natural about it. It was good to have my family structure treated as unremarkable.

It especially felt good after I got here and received a call from the head of our residency admissions committee, Sam Lux. He wanted to talk about an applicant I had interviewed. Sam feared that the applicant wouldn’t rank us #1 if his partner didn’t have an adult fellowship lined up in Boston. I was charged with making this happen. I asked for the partner’s name so that I could call the fellowships. It was an unmistakably male name. I felt like there had just been an earthquake and that no one had felt it but me.

As it turned out, his partner was so strong he didn’t need my help, but Sam wasn’t taking any chances. He was going on about how I had to call people at the Brigham and MGH and convince them to get their fellowship committees to meet early. Sam was so wonderfully oblivious to the pronouns. His nonchalance told me so much and drove home most clearly how different things were. I could not believe that in a mere two decades we had gone from “I’ve decided not to write you a recommendation” to “Your job is to get this guy’s partner a fellowship.”

I felt that way again a few months ago. I serve on the medical school promotions committee, which provides the final review before portfolios are passed on to the dean. On our docket was a faculty member from Children’s who has emerged as one of the leading researchers on the health of lesbian and gay youth. Committee deliberations are confidential, but I think I am within bounds to say that the enthusiasm for her accomplishments again gave me a sense of belonging, and another moment of realizing that what had once seemed impossible had actually come to pass.

Things really have changed. They have changed in so many places. And for that I am grateful. I have seen the Supreme Court rule that sex between people of the same gender is legal. I have seen gay marriage become a reality in Massachusetts. I have seen more and more states pass laws against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of orientation. I have seen gay youth come out in high school. I have seen gay college students baffled by the obsession of my generation with whether and when to come out and even the need to define ourselves by our orientation. I have seen it and thought back to myself as a young man who wondered why he was applying to medical school when he kept hearing that he would have to choose between being a doctor and being openly gay —- and I have felt both vindicated and happy.

It’s easy for me to think that my experiences two decades ago are ancient history. For me, they are. I’ve been lucky enough to construct a life that does not involve a daily fear of being outed, of being beaten, of being fired, or of having my children taken away from me. But many people still live with such fears. My experiences wouldn’t sound so quaint to them.

I am currently serving on the new Institute of Medicine Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Issues. The public testimony has been moving. The enthusiasm that people have for the very existence of the committee and the expectations they have for our report have been humbling. Their comments have been a reminder of just how marginalized people still feel, and how alienated they feel from the clinicians whom they depend on in their time of greatest need.

I was saddened by the recent case of Lisa Pond, who lay dying at a Miami hospital from a brain aneurysm while her partner of 18 years was blocked from seeing her. I was also saddened when I learned of the child of a lesbian couple who was hospitalized with a high fever in Bakersfield, California. The biological mother was allowed at the bedside while the other mom, who had legally adopted the child, was kept out, even though two parents were allowed for other children.

I was greatly dismayed when Lawrence King, an 8th grader in Oxnard, California, was shot and killed in his classroom for his presumed orienta- tion. And even closer to home, I was more than saddened when Carl Walker Hoover, a 6th grader from Springfield, Mass, committed suicide after enduring months of anti- gay bullying. There are many more stories like these.

Today is a great day to celebrate ourselves, our patients, and our institution, and appreciate how far we have come, but there’s still much more work to be done.
Thank you.

Readers, does this resonate? What have you seen in the medical arena?

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Donna

    Great article. It took a lot of courage for you to do what you did. I have two doctors who are gay, and they are two of the best doctors I have, They are both specialists. To me they are more compassionate and understanding. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • THEBULL

    Wow color me shocked. Another gay propaganda article. Just shut up and practice medicine. I dont care if you’re gay but stop trying to force everyone to accept your perverted crap.

    • just.one:truth,justice,love

      This is an inspirational personal story of struggle and triumph. Doctors have personal lives too, or rather people with different sexual orientations have all sort of careers, including those in medicine. For you to take so much offense from it is baffling! People share personal stories all the time!!

  • falseprophet123

    I prefer to keep a doctors sexual orientation out of any discussion I might have with a doctor. The fact that Dr. Shuster is an excellent Physician is a boon to the kids who need his expertise and dedication. The fact that he is a physician who happens to be Gay isn’t as compelling.

  • Sharon Johanson

    My great aunt, Ethel Collins Dunham, left home in Hartford CT to attend Bryn Mawr College in PA in 1909. There, in 1910, she met the love of her life, Martha May Eliot. In 1914 they began medical school together at Johns Hopkins and after graduating, both women became pediatricians.

    After finishing their internships, they held positions at Yale Medical School for many years – Ethel as an instructor in 1920, an assistant professor in 1924 and associate clinical professor in 1927. Ethel Dunham’s passion was caring for and improving the life expectancy of premature newborns.

    Martha Eliot worked primarily in pediatric public health, studying the cause, diagnosis and prevention of rickets, as well as other issues.

    After working at Yale New Haven Hospital for many years, they finished their careers teaching at Harvard. They owned a home together on Francis Street in Cambridge.

    Neither, according to the documents I’ve read on line, was particularly discreet about the fact that they owned a house together in New Haven and shared one of the bedrooms. Both doctors went on to have honored careers working in public health, teaching at Yale and Harvard, and doing research.

    Dr. Dunham and Dr. Eliot had their detractors and mockers, but they gained enormous respect among their more open-minded peers, and in spite of centuries of prejudice that has made being gay or lesbian a formidable challenge to having a successful career, they did enormously well.

    I never knew my Aunt Ethel, probably because my parents worried I’d like her so much I’d want to be gay myself. That’s the kind of ignorance that existed in the 50′s when I was growing up. It breaks my heart when I think about what I missed. But I’m hugely proud of who she was and what she and Martha Eliot accomplished. And I feel tremendous relief that finally, finally things are getting easier for LGBT people to just be who they are.

    If you want to learn more about either Dr. Dunham or Dr. Eliot, there’s a fair amount of information on line.

  • Maureen Reid-Cunningham

    Thank you, Doctor Schuster, for your courage. You have helped to make it a safer world for my son and so many others.

  • Liseuse

    My new primary care doctor is gay, and it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I think it makes him a better doctor, more sensitive to me ( a straight woman) and just seemingly less judgmental in general than other doctors I’be gone too. I should mention I’m in my60s so growing up most gays were in the closet. I’m glad that people can finally be honest now and live more authentically, although there is still much to be done. Great article!

  • daleetaylor

    No one is born homosexual. Look between your legs if you have a penis you are a male, and if not you are a female. I know stories can pull on ones emotions but truth transends feelings and emotions. The thought of a man penetrating a mans butt is perverted. Homosexual life style is phycially, emotionally,and spiritally destructive. I don’t say this with any anger what so ever towards homosexual. Believe it or not I say these things with love. There is a way out of this lifestyle.It is through the love of Jesus Christ who can set you free once and for all.

    • Mark

      Please put a gun in your mouth and go meet Jesus so he can tell you you’re wrong.

  • jane mcinerny

    I met Mark when I was a gay medical student at Tufts struggling w the same issues of public disclosure. The students who were brave enough to join and support that group had a profound impact on the gay culture and barometer in academic medicine in the boston area (harvard, BU, Tufts, & UMass) that can’t be underestimated. I still count some of them among those nearest & dearest to me.

  • Howard Koor

    What a beautifully told soul-baring story. Brave and beautiful.

  • Nathan

    I so sympathize with all these fine people. As a gay Pediatrician I’ve told one boss I am gay and it was not a problem to the point that it wasn’t even important to him, a straight man. I have never felt my sexuality is anyone’s business and I have never been asked by a colleague or patient about my sexuality so I don’t even know how I would answer this question. I’m sure I would say something similar to “not your business”. I am very glad things are changing albeit slowly. Hats off to Maine, Maryland, NY, Mass and all the others. By the way, I am 54 and was in pre med and medical school through the 80′s.

  • Darryl

    I have an interesting story.  I live in the deep southeastern united states.  For years I have been having neck and shoulder pain.  I was told by so many doctors, in my small town, that what i was feeling was “in my head”.  This year i went for another MRI.  Come to find out, all this time there was evidence of a bulging disk w/herniation at the C3-C4 vertebrae.  In the report, the technician even pointed out that this was slightly worse than what he found two years ago–suggesting that i should have been treated for this already.

    I am openly gay.  I don’t go out of my way to let people know this, but its very apparent.  It pains me to know, that I suffered for years, but was refused diagnosis.  There could only be one reason why.  Come to find out, the doctor who finally gave me a diagnosis and sent me to a specialist out of town (he was very insistent about going to someone out of town) has a son who had come out to him.  I found this out from the secretary at work.  It is revealing how someone not even related to the medical field knew this–shows how deep the bigotry runs.

    It makes me wonder how many homosexual people are denied diagnosis from prejudice doctors and actually die from it.   I wish there were more doctors willing to speak up like Dr. Schuster.  At the very least, Doctors should be willing to refer someone if they have ethical issues with treating a patient.  The whole episode has made me paranoid and I currently have to see a GP two hours out of town at a known gay clinic.

  • Charlotte Podolsky

    Wonderful article!!

  • John

    That was a wonderful thing to read. I’m a 46 year-old pathologist, and the chair of my department and the director of laboratories for a large hospital in a very conservative community, one in which I have heard blatantly homophobic things, as well as advice to remain closeted, the latter delivered with obvious distaste. I finally couldn’t stand life as a closeted gay man, and allowed my relationship with my partner to be posted to my Facebook page. Now when people ask what I did on the weekend, I tell them what I did with my partner. We all have regrets in life, and not coming out sooner and allowing myself to live an inauthentic life for so long is one of mine. It is wonderful to feel so free and not have to worry any more. Surprisingly enough, it has’t caused the problems that I thought it would, but perhaps only because I have established my reputation. Thanks Dr. Schuster

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545166707 Maureen A. Devine

    Lead by example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545166707 Maureen A. Devine

    Dr. Shuster:

    Heard your interview on Radio Boston.  So moving.  Glad to have had the chance to read this longer piece.  Your courage and achievements cannot be overstated.  And such a happy ending!
     
    Lead by example…you’ve done it.

    Maureen Devine

  • wp

    As a straight high school teacher, your article makes me happy for the students I am teaching who are soon to get out into the real world.  I remember life in high school and college in the 1990s and how difficult things were for my gay friends… you are right that we still have a way to go, but I am also thrilled at the ever-increasing levels of acceptance and welcoming you are finding.

  • Anonymous

    I am a gay drug addict who has struggled with my disease of addiction across the span of a lifetime. I’ve been out of the closet for decades and have never known myself to be discriminated against for being gay by a healthcare provider. I wish I could say the same for the fact of being an addict who is not always in recovery.  I have been treated in the most appalling ways by providers in hospitals and clinics (let me make it clear that I have never encountered a provider when I was intoxicated nor have I sought care for any condition related to my addiction with the exception of rehabilitation itself).  If people wonder why addicts lie, especially if clinicians wonder, I can tell you this is why.  Once people learn you are an addict, you are a throw away to them.  I have been berated, I have been discriminated against, I have been ignored in the fashion the writer describes, and I have been denied care.  I was twice denied pain killers by providers who insisted I must be drug-seeking (once when I was admitted to the hospital for a week with an extremely serious MRSA infection that I caught in THEIR rehab, and they refused to give me non-narcotic pain medication and the nurses called me “that drug addict”.  A second time when I had an excrutiating pinched nerve that left me prone to spasmodic attacjs of painso bad I would fall to the sidewalk and strangers would try to call an ambulance.  That time I had to explain to the doctor did he REALLY think I would come in to a strange doctor, volunteer that I was an addict, and then ask for painkillers, and given that he witnessed one of these spasmodic pain attacks, did he REALLY think I was faking.  I also told him that if I wanted drugs to feed my addiction, I would call and have them delivered to my door by ”my people”.  Then he laughed and wrote the scrip.  Fortunately for me, pain killer pills make me extremely ill, and thus appear to be one category of drugs I cannot successfully abuse.  But denial of pain management to addicts is cruel and surely a violation of the hypporcratic oath. And making people feel even worse about their disease won’t help them get better. One of the myths about recovery is that anyone can get sober, but that just isn’t true.  Everyone has the potential to get sober, but some people just can’t pull it off.  Even the Big Book acknowledge this in the AA preamble. Addiction is said to be a disease, but when you are the one that has it, trust me when I say that among healthcare providers it is usually a judgment…

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow, I just realized – this is the speech I heard lol! 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr Schuster before and he is a great man. He is also an excellent public speaker and story teller. 

  • Anonymous

    I graduated from Harvard with honors in 1997, but I was not nearly as brilliant, nor nearly as hardworking, as my peers who were pre-med.  And only a few of them made it into HMS.  I’m flabbergasted by how inconceivably talented the author must be in order to have shattered this permutation of the “pink ceiling.”  

    Then, he not only sets a positive example by excelling in his field and mentoring other fabulous talents–he takes the extra trouble to leverage his experience and stature into a positive identity as a public figure–and role-model at-large.

    Anyone can be born talented;  I believe it’s called a gift for a reason.  If you got one, you’re lucky, not better.  However, the courage and effort put forth to reach such a pinnacle is, in fact, awe-inspiring, and evidence of something higher.  And then, the compassion and kindness demonstrated in this piece, in going that last mile, are proof of nothing less than an elevated soul.  

    Knowing that there are such leaders in a field as important as medicine makes me willing and even eager to live on in this often tragic and ugly world, and continue to fight the good fight.

    Thank you, THANK YOU, Dr. Schuster.

    • Roben

       Oh my goodness, this comment just articulated so perfectly so many of my own sentiments. My wife and I wept reading the story, and the comments–but this one takes the cake! Thank you Dr. Schuster, and thank you too Kevin Mulcahy Jr.

  • Anonymous

    This may work in the Northeast and the West Coast, but middle American gays are still being chased by Torquemada.

    • The Polisher

      Yeah I live in the deep south and it is decades behind. Sometimes I wonder if this part of the country will ever catch up, or if the bigotry and hate will just go on and on.

    • Paul V Sutera

      Yes and no…. the upper Midwest is becoming more open and tolerant. It’s been an interesting 25 years though I live on the East Coast, there are “red” counties all around me. Even so, there is acceptance amongst conservatives. Bible-belt may be another thing.

  • Jo Chopra

    Oh I wish my children were young enough to need a pediatrician! What a wonderful essay, what an amazing historical account and what a long, long way we have come. I am a Catholic and I was brought up with all the usual biases. I’ve had to overcome them slowly and painstakingly and articles like this one need to be widely circulated so that others can learn and grow. Many, many thanks to the good Doc for sharing such a remarkable life story.

  • Nate

    Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for having the courage. People like you are the giants my generation can stand on the shoulders of. Thank you. 

  • Gwlaw2004

    Thank you for your article! I am applying to medical school this cycle and was concerned about my sexual orientation being an issue.  I came out at 27 and thought that I would always be open (treat it as a non-issue).  However, one lingering concern is letters of recommendation.  I want to stay in the closet with regards to my Anatomy & Physiology professor because I am concerned that the professor might submarine my recommendation if it were known that I am gay (there would be no way of knowing whether this happened, as the letters are kept secret). 

    Nevertheless, your article gave me the courage to consider mentioning my coming out in the written statement.  I only hope that my strong MCAT score can overcome any potential discrimination! 

    • msii

      Disclosure is totally your decision. I’m just a proponent of doing what is best for you and your situation, and not allowing yourself to be victimized. If you really, really need your prof to write a letter, and you have deep suspicions that s/he will try to tank you if you told them you’re gay, simply don’t tell them. There really is no reason. They can find out later. Or never.

      In regards to mentioning it in your statement – if you being gay has had some demonstrable impact on your values, or you’ve had experiences in LGBTQ leadership groups/medical settings/etcetc, I suppose it’s fine. If it’s just a “hey I’m gay,” probably not the greatest idea. You only have one shot with this letter. Don’t give anyone admissions person any leeway to somehow disqualify you for med school, even before interviews. Just my thoughts. I’ve gone through the admissions process (I’m a MSII), and you will meet a few douchebags along the way. Don’t let them win.

      As I said, do what is most beneficial to you, and avoid situations where you can possibly be victimized. Good luck on you application.

      • UNECOM MSII

        I think that’s good advice.  I am also a second-year medical student, and do a lot of work with our admissions committee.  At my school, I don’t think anyone on the actual board would care at all about the gender of your partners.  I run a queer club and we have been very well supported by both faculty and the administration.  However, I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone to disclose their sexual orientation explicitly in their personal statement.  It doesn’t really have a place in a professional application unless it is specifically relevant to how you’ve developed your skills and values, or how you want to practice medicine in the future.  That said, if a lot of your volunteer, leadership or work experience is related to serving LGBTQ populations, don’t be afraid to say so.  For me personally, if the institution discriminated against me for doing the work that I’ve done, I don’t think it would be a good fit for me.  

        I don’t want to discourage you from being honest, but the truth is, this is your one brief chance to sell them on your attributes; make sure you focus on your most outstanding strengths. Convince them of the unique gifts you’ll bring to their school as a student, and as an alumni.  Medical school is an amazing place to be an advocate, but you can only be effective if you make it through the door.

        Best of luck!
        -=——-Separately, this article makes me feel deeply thankful for those men and women who have come before me, and made life so much easier and safer for me and millions of others.  And it makes me proud to continue educating and fighting for equality from within this amazing, but often conservative, profession. I am pleased to be continuing the work that still needs to be done.

        • http://www.facebook.com/george.jimenez.75436 George Jimenez

          Thanks for your post. Just wanted to give you an update: Will be an M1 in August. Onward and upward.

      • http://www.facebook.com/george.jimenez.75436 George Jimenez

        Thanks! Update: Will be an M1 in August. Onward and upward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emmanuel.arhin Emmanuel TheEnamored

    I can’t begin to tell you how strongly enthusiastic I feel about this essay from the Chief of Pediatrics. I am a physician assistant at an internal medicine office adjacent to Union Memorial Hospital and at least 90% of my patients are not only above the age 40 but are members of my own community, the African-American, Caribbean and African community that I feel wouldn’t find it unremarkable or take it lightly if I ever came out to them. It’s a bit jarring, because on one hand, my boss and all my co-workers know that I’m on openly gay or as we call it in my quarter of the African-American community, same-gender loving man. There’s been several times that I’ve had patients suggest to me about their grand-daughter or friend being well educated and single and whether I would consider getting to know these people that they felt strongly would be a great match for me…I even had a white patient on more than two occasions showed me a picture of his beautiful fiance’s sister who was newly single and in whom he felt I would be a viable mate for her …I’m single…not dating anyone at the moment but I’ve had to answer that I was seeing someone before they would drop their proposition. Medicine gives off the edge and air of progressiveness but still the people within it and the people to whom we render care and services too are still very homophobic. And so it feels more than great ,100% fantastic to read an essay such as this about the chief, his testimony, so to speak, of his life and lessons in medicines during his training and up thru now being legally recognized as partnered with children ….it’s amazing…i really needed to read this. I really needed this for my soul….

    • http://www.facebook.com/mattmedwards Matthew Edwards

      I am a gay PA student, and I have also been pretty surprised at how homophobic the medical profession is. Until pretty recently, medicine was very much an “old boys club.”  I do my best to hold my ground and not let it bother me. After all, medicine is not for the thin skinned or faint of heart!

      • Todd

        At the expense of sounding racist, but with the influx of interns from different cultures, i.e. the Middle East and Asia, homophobia might be on the rise as many of these students tend to be conservative when it comes to family values and career-focus. I have seen to many Pakis and Indians berate Americans for being supportive of anything that has to deal with gaydom. It’s a conservatism which threatens to turn back the advances in civil rights damning anything which doesn’t promote the individual rights.

        • Paul V Sutera

          Well people evolve, it’s part of the change the world is going through right now. We can handle the extra challenge.

    • Todd

      It seems that the ones who tend to be homophobic in the medical field are the less educated doing the dead-end jobs. So long as you wear a white smock regardless of your sexual orientation, most people prove themselves hypocrites constantly making innuendoes and comments about gays daring never to say it to their faces. They fear power which for the time being keeps them at bay though never resolving their prejudices. I know of too many incidents by nurses assistants et al who suddenly act sheepishly compliant—almost like sniffling sycophants offering 100% support because they’re terrified that the wrong word could prove to be a death notice for their careers.

  • Lee2CA

    Thank you for this article! It will give hope to many.

  • Drdanfee

    This story is so moving so encouraging, on both personal and professional levels.  Just in case anybody at Harvard and/or the related teaching hospitals might happen to be interested?  We are suffering from a dearth of treatment and wellness attention to the long-term dilemma of folks who sustain Stress Injury from participating in exgay church life and/or exgay programs.  The tip of this iceberg is just barely visible above the water lines, occasionally; but trust me, a whole lot of us have struggled – and sadly are continuing to struggle – with this very difficult Stress Injury matter.  What makes this domain of PTSD so tricky?  Well, for one thing PTSD is still less well understood, although important discoveries and new models are emerging, especially in neurobiology.  For a second, it remains unclear how to focus on exgay Stress Injury as a matter of health and long-term suffering, when it can easily be flipped into its official church or religious dimensions, so that our long-standing pledge to hands-off freedom of religion pulls us away from research, as well as from treatment …. and above, prevention or early intervention.  If things really have changed in at least some of the more prestigious sectors of our USA medical community, I pray and hope that we who so unexpectedly yet constantly struggle with what these dodgy involvements turn out to have formed (malformed?) inside us as such surprisingly deep and enduring levels might find the most evidence-based, professionally informed care and healing possible.  Please don’t forget that we exist and we really hurt, even though we all know such an immense spectrum of injury, illness, and suffering also demands care and attention.  Thanks to Harvard – was a tremendous fun experience in the 1970s to hand out with the Harvard-Radcliffe gay student group – and thank you Dr. Schuster.  All the best to you and your family.  I am so gratified to hear that some fine folk made it through despite the strange odds, not all that long ago.  drdanfee / California / USA

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stanley-James/503792594 Stanley James

       Let me briefly explain what happened with an ex gay catholic I know.  We had monthly dinner meetings where it quickly became obvious he was a total absolutist self hater.

      finally I got him frustrated enough that he blurted out -  gays support the westboro baptist church (the nuts who hate gays as well as america and showed up at matthew shepards funerals with pic of him burning in hell

      then when I asked him about matthew shepard  he said  “His parents should have fixed him.”

      And I reapeated his utter hatred statemtn back to him 30 sec later and he denied he said it

      The ex gay movement turns people into psychopaths.  Simple as that. And pathological liars.

      BTW   Don Schirermier of EXodus – he is one of so called xtians who are behind the movement in Uganda to make bging gay a capital hanging offense.

      Welcome to conservative xtianity.

      BTW  the catholic church – (his church)  whose german pope said gays /gay marriage woudl would mean the end of humanity

      who in 2009 UNexcommunciated Bishop williamson, a holocaust denier.

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-01-26/world/pope.holocaust.denial_1_bishop-richard-williamson-bishop-bernard-fellay-holocaust-denier?_s=PM:WORLD

      • Drdanfee

         I basically agree with what you’ve posted, SJ.  Dodgy stuff goes on in exgay programs and services; hardly any survivor has any doubt about that. 

        What the stress injury dimension focuses for us is that you often do not or cannot solve this dilemma of being involved in a dodgy, harmful business by simply being able to make a rational evaluation that it is  a flat earth phenomenon that also may cause harm, then just walk away and go on with your life. 

        For multiple, complex reasons, by the time you have either figured exgay stuff out for the better, or you are finally old enough to be able to more autonomously decline important social pressures to be exgay from family-church-whomever, a great deal of stress injury damage can already be done. 
        kn
        PTSD is tricky, and the onset of overt life disruptions can lay low for weeks, months, even years. 

        Just knowing that exgay programs/services are flat earthisms and are harmful sets the information stage for reality testing and for rational action, particularly in law and/or public policy. 

        But that accurate information context in itself hardly tells we who still struggle painfully to live daily life with emotionally-driven perceptual, cognitive-evaluative, and/or behavioral-relational exgay negatives tearing us and our thriving apart, how best to get better. 

        So we arrive at the point where my plea is made to the medical community in its highest ideals of treatment and support for human thriving. 

        Believe me, we survivors (ex-exgays or dos equis people, as we are sometimes called) know all too clearly how we are still burdened by irrational yet heavy-handed, persistent exgay ‘trash’ or ‘static’ or ‘noise’ in our bodies, personalities, and social lives. 

        What is not very clear at all is: How do we best proceed to really get better?  What evidence-based best practices are recommended for us to pursue to work at deeper feeling or personhood levels which may seem impervious to rational thinking and rational beliefs that being gay can result in a thriving life?  With what social or treatment supports?  To what differential health ends or goals? Along with asking for expert help to reality test our continuing hunch that we sometimes face unexpected twists and turns, hot spots, tricky spots, and fairly subtle issues as we walk the betterment paths that so lure us while so continually eluding us.  drdanfee

        • http://caofae.blogspot.ca/ Caoimhe Fayre

           I don’t like the hating on the Church in the previous comment… but then again, I also don’t know how close I will be to the Church once all this is over…

          I think treatment of ex-ex gays is more for a psychology department to consider, and I too think it needs to be done.

          I left Courage (the Catholic ex-gay 12 step program) in January of this year, and obviously I’m still working on self-acceptance and a whole host of emotional/psychological issues. Like, ok, so I taught myself to hear the whips hitting Jesus every time I have a sexual thought or feeling – so now that I don’t want to hear that sound anymore, how do I turn it off? Thinking about kissing another girl does not make me guilty of the scourging at the pillar!!!

          And how do we get through those days when we are sitting at Mass, thinking it would be better to be dead? I KNOW it’s crazy, and wrong, but I still have days when I think I’d rather be dead than accept that I’m a lesbian. That maybe God would rather I be dead, because how can he love me if he made me wrong?

          The thing is, in Courage (and in Exodus before I became Catholic), we found all the experiences of abuse and neglect that I went through as a child, blamed those experiences for my sexual orientation. But whether they caused my orientation or not, they still happened. So now, I have the initial self-hate, pain, etc to heal from from the original experiences… plus all the compounded self-hate, pain and etc that the ex gay experience created and added to my psychological baggage.

          The fact that I was OPEN to and willingly choose an ex-gay experience points to a need for healing in my life. But now I need healing doubly so, from the stuff I was initially struggling with and nor also from my ex-gay experiences.

          How the heck am I even supposed to start?

          Lucky for me, I have a great psychologist now who is helping me through this process. But it took going to the hospital for suicidal ideation to get me this kind of help, and even with that help every day feels like an internal war zone.

          What about the people who still don’t have help? What about the people who right now are thinking, ‘If God doesn’t make me straight soon, I hope he kills me because otherwise I will?’ They need help, too, and it’d be better for them if we could help them BEFORE they end up in the mental ward of a hospital, or worse, in a casket.

          • Mindy’sMom

            I would hope they remember the saying, “God don’t make no mistakes”. I hope all can embrace that thought, accept and make a happy life for themselves. They do not need to add to the pain others have inflicted upon them. That would alow them to win.

          • Atty. Francis L. Holland

            Without intending to, Caoimhe Fayre
            commits a dire act of marginalization of gays’ psychiatric needs similar to the marginalization of Blacks’ psychiatric needs that arise from color-aroused persecution.

            Caoimhe Fayre worries that “treatment of ex-ex gays is more for a psychology department to consider,” but then she acknowledges that her own experiences as an ex-gay led to suicidal ideation and hospital (inpatient?) psychiatric treatment, that could ONLY be provided under the competent care of psychiatrists.  How, then could the ex-gay issue be for a psychology department” when ex-gays are presenting in the hospital emergency room with suicidal ideation, and are actually attempting suicide, thereby requiring inpatient psychiatric treatment?  The nature of the medical treatment required proves that ex-gay issues, when severe, cannot be treated by psychologists alone.

            To assert that people among whom suicidality is rampant are not worthy or appropriate candidates for the concern of psychiatry is simply to state that the problems of gays, arising out of being gay in a gay-hostile society, are somehow less worthy of treatment than are the psychiatric problems of other people, arising out of, e.g. fear of spiders.  Everyone’s reasons for feeling suicidal are equally worthy of the attention of the psychiatric profession.  Even gays.

            And then what about the gay bashers (sociopathic murderers) who chase gays in the street and beat them with baseball bats, as the good doctor above describe witnessing?  I’m sure many people will argue that whatever motivates those assassins is also outside of the realm of anything that should preoccupy psychiatry, and should better be shoveled over into the sociology department, even though the question is, ‘What makes people turn homocidal and incapable of empathy when they perceive that their victim is gay?’  ANY mental condition that makes people kill, based on sexual orientation or skin color, is worthy of psychiatric study and treatment, including violent anti-gay antagonism and violent anti-Black antagonism.

            If you disagree, consider the alternative:  Gay bashers and color-aroused violent actors are sometimes only ONE act away from committing a bias-aroused homicide that could put them in jail for life and separate them from their families, jobs, social standing and wealth.  As such, they could meet a Social Security Administration definition for “severe mental impairment,” if anti-gay or anti-Black hatred, fear and etc. were considered to be the mental disorders that they obviously are. 

            If people who would kill someone for being gay or Black are not mentally disordered, then why to do they BEHAVE like they are mentally disordered?  Are they “normal” because it is “normal” to hate and kill gays and Blacks?

            And if psychiatrists refuse to develop diagnosis and treatment protocols for people with virulent and violent anti-gay animus and behavior, then how will such people be hospitalized when they present a danger to themselves and others by virtue of their untreated propensity to get into violent physical confrontations with others based on those others’ sexual orientation or skin color? 

            Either we offier diagnosis and treatments for the both the perpetrators and the victims or we acccept that both groups will continue to go without the treatment they need.

            Anti-gay antagonism, just like anti-Black antagonism, are menaces that deserve treatment in the perpetrators as much as in the victims.  Ask a man who is in jail for a hate crime if, in retrospect, he did not present a danger TO HIMSELF and and others, and therefore mert the most dire threshold for psychiatric attention at the time when he committed the violent act that landed him in jail! 

            There are plenty of people who hate gays and who would engage in self-destructive illegal and behavior that would subject them to criminal prosecution and civil liability out of a desire or compulsion to hurt gays, right?  Where are the treatment programs for such people?  If you could find one perpetrator willing to accept treatment, e.g. as alternative sentencing or part of a civil settlement, then you might have fifty less victims of gay-bashing and color-aroused antagonist violence and discrimination.

    • KJW

      I am chilled once again about this new push to allow people — insurers, employers, pharmacists, physicians — to let their “consciences” dictate whom they will and will not serve.  A physician’s job is to heal the sick, period; it’s both illuminating and horrifying to see how many in the healing professions think otherwise.  It seems obvious, but it bears repeating — if you cannot treat the ill and the injured with love and compassion and commitment then find a different job.  Kudos to you, Mr. Schuster for speaking out and doing the right thing.

  • Baraco1

    Now, if we can get the medical world, the fashion world, and the world in general to accept fat people the same way, maybe we will have another less marginalized group of very worthy and contributory citizens added to an affirming population. There are no closets for obese people, and we often suffer as much as you did once upon a time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/The.MacTavish Anthony Cunningham

      You’re absolutely right to point out that the hate and prejudice here are not on a par (not even close).  Your point is well-taken.  But the snide comments detract from the dignity of your point.  This person was dense to equate these situations, but your response seems cruel.  

    • medicalqueer

      I’m sorry, but this sounds like bigoted hate speech.  Fat/overweight/obese people are definitely marginalized.  I agree that it’s not the same kind of discrimination (legally, religiously, politically, or related to violence), but it is still very real.  It still causes people to be treated with contempt, and without respect or dignity.  And you just proved it.  

      As a health care provider, I realize that there are behavioral factors to some weight gain, and that not everyone is powerless to make healthy changes in their behaviors that would also result in weight loss.  I promote these behavior changes, and believe that they save lives and make people happier and healthier. But I also know that there are genetic factors, and metabolic diseases; that it can be a result of early childhood trauma and how the body is influenced by stress hormones, or depression; that eating can be an addiction.  No solution is easy, and people like you aren’t helping.

      I don’t believe that all obesity is unhealthy, and I don’t think people should be expected to look like today’s beauty standards.  But I do think most overweight and obese people would be healthier if they worked to have more lean body mass by eating well and staying active.  Most Americans aren’t very good at being healthy in these ways, whether they’re skinny or “overweight”.

      • adarc

        Well said.

    • Shesnow

      Your comment to the obese person who feels marginalized, “get over yourself” 
      reminds me of many African-Americans I know who say civil rights are the business of black people, and they don’t want gay people to try horning in on their issue. There is no comparison, they say. “We can’t HELP being black.”

      I guess we always need someone to dwell at the bottom of the totem pole!

      • Jmorris2

        This argument suffers from a number of flaws.  Primary among them is the fact that, while overweight and obese people may suffer from social stigma, they do not suffer from legal discrimination. Comparisons of social injustice towards GLBT Americans today with the social injustices suffered by African-Americans in the recent past are perfectly legitimate, in that both groups are/were subjected to LEGAL discrimination at Federal, State, and Local levels across a broad spectrum. 

        Obese people are not denied the right to marry, to visit their loved ones in the hospital, to inherit property, to rent apartments.  Obese people can not LEGALLY be fired from their jobs for being obese – yes, I’ve no doubt that there are stupid people out there who have found reason to fire someone because of their weight; the difference is that in most states THOSE people have legal grounds by which to pursue wrongful termination suits, while gay people do NOT.

        Let me be clear – any intemperate remarks on my part were not directed at obese people.  I do not support mistreating ANYONE for something as superficial as physical size.  If I display ire, it is directed at people who equate social disapprobation and stigma with a lack of legal equality.  I’m sorry if you are overweight and are mistreated.  I would never ridicule or abuse someone because of his or her weight.  However, weight is NOT similar to sexual orientation or race where the law is concerned, and the law is the central issue when it comes to civil rights.

        Simply put, obese people may be discriminated against socially.  That’s not the same as what gay people are currently dealing with. The issues are simply not the same.  And, while I don’t hold with discrimination or mistreatment of people because of weight, neither will I sit back and pretend that being sneered at by others is equivalent to what gay people deal with.  And here’s why: gay people are sneered at by others, thrown out of their families by their bigoted parents, denied the right to marry the people they love, denied the right to visit those people in the hospital, denied government benefits across a wide swath, frequently made the political targets of the Right, demonized by mainstream religion, painted as pedophiles and predators, spat upon, often abandoned by friends when they “find out”, and occasionally, blessedly rarely, we are tied to fences and pistol-whipped to death.

        So you’ll forgive me if I fail to welcome fat people into the ranks of the discriminated-against.  You really don’t have a freaking clue.

    • somegal

      there are people who are obese due to physiological conditions such as hormonal imbalances. your comment is deeply insensitive and ignorant.

    • Vandermeer

      Thank you for adding another category of people who are treated unfairly. God bless you for your comment!

    • Vandermeer

      No experience is the same… but JMorris…how can you read about the discrimination of one group and not feel empathy for all who are unfairly treated, who are made to feel unworthy. I am shocked by those who want to feel that one group deserves understanding and legal protection and another group does not. I am for non-discrimination for all. Judge NOT.

    • Vandermeer

      “Put down that cheeseburger, go have bypass surgery”… wow… where is your compassion? Whoever you are… you have learned to be angry and egocentric, not welcoming and compassionate to others. Maybe this is why you are suffering. You need to evolve to see that all suffering may be relative to you but not to those who feel the pain of exclusion. Where is your empathy for others. I’m shocked and saddened by your comment and those ignorant people who have voted in support of your hateful statements. By the way, I don’t have a weight problem but I know and love many who do.

  • Marie

    Great article. Good reminder of how far we have come, and that there is still progress to be made. Also that each of us can make a difference in someone’s life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702330215 Jerry Pritikin

    It’s great to read articles like this. I have been an openly gay man for over 50 of my 75 years. I was involved in the early San Francisco gay Rights Movement and counted Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone as friends. Sadly, the movement has traveled at a snail’s pace. However, the 21 Century has shown great progress. Sadly, too many younger gay people have not realize just how far we have come in the past 50 years, and yes… we still have a long way to go to get equal rights under the law. Thanks for this great story!
    Images: With Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone

  • Kathy

    Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates is trying to pass a bill that would protect all workers from abusive conduct at work. It is going through the legislative process now. LGBT should support this law, which would make the kinds of things done to the LGBT people in this story illegal. 

  • Roland Dunbrack

    Great article, Mark. I remember those days at Harvard and wondering what being out would do to my scientific career. I think I lost a AAAS Scientific Journalism fellowship in 1993 because of it. The director of the program said some newspapers were uncomfortable with it. But otherwise, my faculty colleagues here in Philly have been great.

  • M.E.

    My husband was a fellow at CHOP ( Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) in the late 90′s & experienced some of the same sort of discrimination.Most of his younger colleagues were cordial & accepting but many of the older ones in the hierarchy were plain awful. To my mind it was their behind his back behavior that was especially egregious, making sure that their bias was not widely known.(Must retain that veneer of good liberal.) In spite of all, he learned a great deal & is today successfully practicing his sub speciality. We’ve been a couple for almost 19 yrs. and legally married for 8 1/2 yrs, thank you Ontario!
    Great piece, thanks to the good doctor for p