Jump to content

With Pride, January 2015


Drew Payne

414 views

A Safe Place for All?

(January 2015)

Freddie Mercury died from AIDS in November 1991. I was a student nurse at the time. One of my colleagues told me that he “deserved it” because of his “lifestyle”. I exploded faced with her homophobia, but I was turned on by others who supported her, saying their views were right because they wanted to be parents and any parent would want to protect their sons from the likes of Freddie Mercury. And I was wrong, they said, because I was defending someone like Freddie Mercury. Their homophobia cut me deeply that day.

Last year, my partner Martin and I got married. When I returned to work, my colleague Wendy wanted to see our wedding pictures. When I got them up online, the whole office gathered around to look at them. Nobody made any homophobic or prejudiced remarks; nobody said they didn't “agree” with same sex marriage, though I was asked a lot of questions about our guests.

I have been out as a gay man throughout my entire career, at first I regularly came up against blunt homophobia from many colleagues, but as the years passed society has changed, homophobia is declining (I do work in London, one of the most metropolitan of all our cities). We now have openly gay MPs, police officers, soldiers and military personnel, and no longer is it “career suicide” when an actor comes out.

This year, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust was named to be the most lesbian and gay-friendly employer in Britain (1). Every year Stonewall, the LGBT campaigning organisation, name their Top 100 Employers and this year the top one was an NHS trust, the first time an NHS trust has achieved this.

So life is rosy and we have achieved all we need to? No, far from it.

I have also experienced the NHS from the other side of the nurses’ station. I have asthma and have been an NHS patient for years as an in-patient, out-patient and GP patient. I am an out gay man, but when I'm a patient I suddenly rush back into the closet, it's the only time I do, but I have good reason to. I always fear that if a clinician finds out I'm gay they will give me prejudiced treatment because it has happened in the past. I have had clinicians try to force me to have a HIV test, wear two pairs of gloves when treating me, and make comments suggesting that it is my fault I am ill because I’m gay.

As a patient I am so vulnerable, I rely on good relationships with the people treating me. The fear of homophobia hangs over this, if they know I'm gay will their homophobia come out and suddenly the quality of care I receive fall? I can't take that risk.

There have been a lot of high-profile cases where people have gone to court for the “right” to discriminate against lesbians and gay men. Registrars not wanting to marry same-sex couples, counsellors not wanting to see same-sex couples, therapists wanting to “cure” gay people. How do I know the clinician treating me doesn’t have these views too? In the past I have met enough nurses who have had these attitudes.

This is not paranoia but an all too real fear for many. Stonewall found a third of gay men and a half of lesbians have received negative experiences from healthcare professionals because of their sexuality and a third of gay men and half of lesbians aren't out to their GPs (2). These statistics are nothing to be proud of.

The picture for lesbian and gay staff is equally as patchy. Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust might be the most lesbian and gay-friendly employer in Britain but there were only eight other NHS organisations in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers.

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We can’t sit back and say the job is done. Yes, we have marriage equality and gay characters on our soap operas, but the NHS still isn’t a safe place for all people, and how can we rest until it is?

(This was originally published as a comment piece in Nursing Standard magazine)

Drew Payne

 

Find out more about this short blog series here

 

 

20220111_141244aa.jpg

Edited by Drew Payne
to enter category

  • Like 3
  • Sad 1

7 Comments


Recommended Comments

A great piece of writing. It's sad that Dr's were like that, there's still some like that in the profession. 

I've been very lucky with the NHS, never having major issues.

Edited by chris191070
  • Like 2
Link to comment
4 hours ago, chris191070 said:

A great piece of writing. It's sad that Dr's were like that, there's still some like that in the profession. 

I've been very lucky with the NHS, never having major issues.

I'm so glad you haven't had any problems, that's so good to hear.

The beginning of this blog was an act of revenge, I had to expose their homophobia when Freddie Mercury died. They were cruel and deeply homophobic, and they were training to be nurses. I was shocked, during my training, at how homophobic some of my colleagues were, but it was the 1990s. I am glad to say, the student nurses I mentor now, are very different and I don't see the same homophobia now.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
47 minutes ago, Drew Payne said:

I'm so glad you haven't had any problems, that's so good to hear.

The beginning of this blog was an act of revenge, I had to expose their homophobia when Freddie Mercury died. They were cruel and deeply homophobic, and they were training to be nurses. I was shocked, during my training, at how homophobic some of my colleagues were, but it was the 1990s. I am glad to say, the student nurses I mentor now, are very different and I don't see the same homophobia now.

Yeah, the whole industry no seems alot more tolerable, very little homophobia. But there are probably alot more out nurses/Dr's  than there were in the 90's.

There was alot of ignorance about HIV/ Aids back in the 90's. Treatment for HIV has come along way since then, which I think helped rid the profession of homophobia.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

To quote @Drew Payne 'We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We can’t sit back and say the job is done. Yes, we have marriage equality and gay characters on our soap operas, but the NHS still isn’t a safe place for all people, and how can we rest until it is?'

I have to agree with Drew's final comment in this blog, there is still some way to go before the homophobia in the NHS is completely eradicated. Until last year I was in a voluntary position where I was in frequent contact with some of our younger homeless people local to where I live, some of whom are gay and HIV positive. Most had very positive experiences of their treatment in the NHS, unfortunately there were a few who originated from a town in Lancashire where they had been treated abysmally by some of the medical professionals in what was their local hospital. They told me that their treatment in the HIV clinic had been excellent, but their experiences when being treated for unrelated medical needs left a lot to be desired in terms of attitude and lack of compassion from some of the staff.

While the majority of NHS staff are accepting and treat every one equally, there are still some who need to either change their attitude or find another career.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
1 hour ago, Mancunian said:

To quote @Drew Payne 'We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We can’t sit back and say the job is done. Yes, we have marriage equality and gay characters on our soap operas, but the NHS still isn’t a safe place for all people, and how can we rest until it is?'

I have to agree with Drew's final comment in this blog, there is still some way to go before the homophobia in the NHS is completely eradicated. Until last year I was in a voluntary position where I was in frequent contact with some of our younger homeless people local to where I live, some of whom are gay and HIV positive. Most had very positive experiences of their treatment in the NHS, unfortunately there were a few who originated from a town in Lancashire where they had been treated abysmally by some of the medical professionals in what was their local hospital. They told me that their treatment in the HIV clinic had been excellent, but their experiences when being treated for unrelated medical needs left a lot to be desired in terms of attitude and lack of compassion from some of the staff.

While the majority of NHS staff are accepting and treat every one equally, there are still some who need to either change their attitude or find another career.

Completely agree with that. Ive never had a problem with my HIV clinic. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
8 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Yeah, the whole industry no seems alot more tolerable, very little homophobia. But there are probably alot more out nurses/Dr's  than there were in the 90's.

There was alot of ignorance about HIV/ Aids back in the 90's. Treatment for HIV has come along way since then, which I think helped rid the profession of homophobia.

Healthcare is not what it was back in the 1990s, so much has changed and for the better. When I did my nurse training, I was the only out student nurse in my intake and ignorance around HIV was breath-taking.

Now there are so many out LGBT people in the NHS, my own employer has an LGBT staff network. There were always LGBT people working in the NHS but its only in the last twenty years or so has it been a place where people can come out, especially lesbians and trans women. I'm so glad for that change.

5 hours ago, Mancunian said:

To quote @Drew Payne 'We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We can’t sit back and say the job is done. Yes, we have marriage equality and gay characters on our soap operas, but the NHS still isn’t a safe place for all people, and how can we rest until it is?'

I have to agree with Drew's final comment in this blog, there is still some way to go before the homophobia in the NHS is completely eradicated. Until last year I was in a voluntary position where I was in frequent contact with some of our younger homeless people local to where I live, some of whom are gay and HIV positive. Most had very positive experiences of their treatment in the NHS, unfortunately there were a few who originated from a town in Lancashire where they had been treated abysmally by some of the medical professionals in what was their local hospital. They told me that their treatment in the HIV clinic had been excellent, but their experiences when being treated for unrelated medical needs left a lot to be desired in terms of attitude and lack of compassion from some of the staff.

While the majority of NHS staff are accepting and treat every one equally, there are still some who need to either change their attitude or find another career.

There are three more blogs in this series, the next two both came from a place of anger, the next was a very angry reaction, but the last came from a place of joy and change. Collecting them all together I wanted to show how things have changed, because that was the impression I got when I reread them all (They were written at the time they were dated).

I have decided, since I started to post these, to write a sixth one, this time reflecting on this year's London Pride because something strange and amazing happened there.

I have worked my whole nursing career in London and that is a very different place, but we do have the Metropolitan-effect in this country. Our big cities are liberal while outside of them is still very socially conservative, and people who don't fit in move (run) to the big cities. Unfortunately, it is still taking time attitudes outside of cities. I am so sorry about the treatment those kids receive, there's a few healthcare professionals I'd like to give some severe "clinical feedback" to.

But change is happening. My brother is a Scout Leader in a Lancashire market town. He thrown one of the kids out of his Scout troop for being prejudiced. He told the kid, "My wife is Jewish, my boy is gay and I work with black people. You don't talk like that here. Get out!"

  • Love 2
Link to comment
4 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Completely agree with that. Ive never had a problem with my HIV clinic. 

So many HIV services are run by LGBT staff. So many lesbians made those places what they are. My first nursing job, after I qualified, was on a HIV ward and there was one straight woman on the nursing team (no straight men).

  • Like 2
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..