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‘Should I tell my mentor I’m gay?’


Can you advise this student nurse?

“This isn’t really a question about nursing I’m afraid but it is affecting me on placement so I’m hoping you’ll still publish it!

“I don’t know whether I should tell staff on placement that I’m gay. I know this sounds like a really minor thing but as soon as you tell someone it becomes gossip but it feels wrong lying about it, like I’m ashamed which I’m not. I just don’t want it to become what I’m known for.

“Even though it’s something that I accept myself, I find it really hard to tell people especially as everyone just assumes that you’re straight so it turns into a sort of announcement when you tell anyone. I lost a friend a year or so ago because of her prejudices and it’s made me really nervous to talk about my sexuality.

“My mentor asked me if I had a boyfriend in my initial interview and I didn’t feel ready to reveal that part of myself, I just said I wasn’t seeing anyone and then asked some stupid question about the number of beds on the ward!

“What have other gay student nurses done? So far I’ve just lied by omission but when someone asks you outright if you have a boyfriend it’s difficult to avoid!

“Anyone else been in this situation? Any brilliant responses to love-life questions that I can steal?”


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Readers' comments (4)

  • Your mentor should be ok with it, she is a nurse, compassion and acceptance is sort of our thing! Any personal biases the staff have should be left at the door as a nurse and you shouldn't feel judged or anything as a result. Tell them if you want to but never feel forced. It really isn't any of there business unless you feel comfortable enough to make it so.

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  • I agree with Anonymous above. I'm a student nurse and came out to my colleagues on my last placement. It was fine, no biggy. I just kind of did it gradually.

    As I'm in a relationship, I used the word 'partner' when I mentioned my girlfriend. Lots of people use the word 'partner', whether they are straight, gay, bi, whatever. As time went on I got tired of avoiding the gender pronouns she or her when talking about her. I had been saying their... and then 'she' started popping out, and it was fine. Once people know you and you have developed rapport with colleagues, including your mentor, you may feel quite comfortable about coming out and be happily surprised by reactions.

    The bottom line is that know one needs to know which gender you find attractive. It is none of their business, and I think your mentor really shouldn't have asked you if you had a boyfriend. But maybe it was your mentor's way of getting to know you.

    It can feel quite exposing and make you feel vulnerable letting your mentor or colleagues know about your sexuality, as it can often feel like they have so much power over you - whether you continue on your course or not can come down to how they relate to you.

    If you rate and respect your mentor - and let's face it not all nurses are good at the mentor role - and get on well, then the chances are you will have a good experience sharing information with them. It is entirely up to you. You don't have to fight for the cause, just live your life as you want to.

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  • Let me reverse the question: should I disclose to my colleagues that I'm straight? It completely does not matter (at least to me). What matters is how well you are performing on duty and how seriously you take the course. Sure, there are certain professional boundaries and e.g. if you like to dance on a pole in a brothel, it might cause some issues with "professional behaviour outside the work". BTW, during my busy, acute placements I haven't had a chance to discuss anything related to the outside world.

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  • I know the feeling. I'm Bi and coming out to more people now and more comfortable than before but I never have in a placement or a workplace, I guess I don't want it to become gossip.

    I don't want to hide either but for me placements are so short that I try to avoid anything too personal in case someone has a problem with it and disrupts the placement for me, the power imbalance between a mentor and student is so big that I feel I have to. Which sucks but it's so I can get through my training. I'm not ruling out doing so it just depends on the atmosphere of a placement. Some previous placements I've had haven't been all that 'liberal' that I would feel comfortable doing so.

    IDK, this isn't the most encouraging post. Honestly I'm probably being overly pessimistic and being out is a non event but this is the way I see it at the moment..

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