Sharing our Stories

Stories are a vital part of human history, human culture.  For LGBTQ communities, stories of our lives take on particular significance because so many of our stories have been hidden, often even buried beneath years of denial.  So when we read or hear them, or see them portrayed in a movie or TV, it means even more than just any ordinary human story.Celebrate LGBTQ healh But telling our stories can be hard. It is time consuming, and it sometimes takes the story-teller to places that are hard to “visit.”  But it is so important to do, and I encourage folks who are reading this blog to consider two opportunities to share your story.

The first is a research project being conducted by Dr. Sean Robinson, Associate Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs, School of Education & Urban Studies, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD.  The title of the study is “Inside the Lavender Tower: Stories of LGBTQ Faculty Call for LGBTQ Faculty Participants.”  Here is his description of the study:

 Dear Faculty Colleagues, I am conducting an international, qualitative study on the experiences of LGBTQ faculty. The purpose of my research is to capture the stories and narratives of LGBTQ faculty, and how they navigate and negotiate the campus environment in the 21st century. I am interested in how your personal and professional identities have been impacted by the campus milieu (including policies, procedures, interactions with students, peers, administrators, teaching, research activities, etc.), and how you make meaning from your experiences. This study has been approved by my institution’s IRB (project # 13/12-0156). There continues to be scant contemporary research looking at the experiences of LGBTQ faculty within the United States, and virtually none exploring the issues across other countries or regions of the world. The research that does exist focuses primarily on issues of coming out in the classroom, issues related to specific fields such as education, engineering, and science, or general campus climate perceptions. Often, research is also limited to the experiences of only gays and lesbians, omitting the experiences of bisexuals, transgendered, or those identifying as queer. This research aims to expand our current understanding of the day to day lived experiences of LGBTQ faculty, across institutional type and place. By expanding our understanding of the experiences of LGBTQ faculty, colleges and universities may be better equipped to design and implement LGBTQ affirming policies and process, and practices. Voluntary participation includes a 60-90min phone interview; participants may also be asked to for follow-up conversations either via email, or phone. Confidentiality will be assured; only pseudonyms of both individuals and institutions will be used. If you are interested in participating in this study, please email the following information to Name Institution/Location Rank/position Department/Discipline Preferred Email for follow-up Please consider passing this request on to colleagues that you know. I appreciate your assistance in what I hope will be an extremely valuable study.

Sincerely, Dr. Sean Robinson, Associate Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs, School of Education & Urban Studies, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD Email:

The other opportunity is not a research study; it is a project to collect and archive stories of lesbian nurses.  Lesbians have long been a major presence and force in this woman-dominated profession, but the fact of lesbian existence in nursing has been a matter of shame and fear, with the label being used to intimidate, shame and silence any strong woman in nursing regardless of her actual identity.  We described this dilemma here:

 Lesbian presence in nursing has long been acknowledged and known, but the negative connotation of this presence has remained relatively untouched by the emergence of the gay rights movement. Historically any nurse who lived without a man in her life has had this fact noted in public accounts of her life, and has been the subject of seditious rumors about her sexuality.  There is probably not one nurse who, as a student, did not hear something demeaning and uncomplimentary about Florence Nightingale’s life, for instance.

Still today, considerable fear surrounds the possibility of being known.  Common rejoinders to any hint of lesbian existence include “this is nobody’s business” and the related “so what?”  Of course, if lesbian existence were nobody’s business, then it would not be a matter that has garnered such strength as to be used as a tool for intimidation and discrimination.  Like the color of one’s hair, it would be a matter that might prompt inconsequential judgments of taste (i.e. “what beautiful red hair” or “she needs a new hairdo”).

You can explore more about this opportunity at the Lesbian Nurse Stories Web site!

Please consider these opportunities!  They are all too rare – and very important!

About Peggy L Chinn

feminist, nurse activist, writer, founding editor of ANS Advances in Nursing Science, quilter, grandmother nurturing the future of the amazing children in my life.
This entry was posted in Call for participants, Join the discussion, Stories of our lives. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sharing our Stories

  1. Mickey says:

    I am on Sean’s calendar for an interview next week! I’m glad he is doing this, but also glad that the nurses’ story project is underway. We have some unique circumstances in nursing that warrant telling our story as part of the larger LGBT experience.

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