These days when I walk through the hushed halls of our medical schools to find my erstwhile classmates turned professor wannabes, my rusty gay-dar pings like crazy every which way I turn. Shirt sized just a bit too tight, sleeve upturned just a bit too perfectly, there's always a small tell. Perhaps there is some truth to the urban myth of the obedient, studious gay son? After all without the distractions of emo high school angst, we actually don't have much except our dusty books to sustain us back then. Or maybe it's true that enterprising gay men venture into the medical field in droves to justify themselves.
Or perhaps our work environment makes it that much easier for us to be a little more open about who we are. After all we're supposedly in the presence of a more enlightened assemblage than the common rabble so vulgar prejudices such as homophobia are usually kept concealed.
Though more likely whispered covertly behind closed doors. Still it allows us free rein to be a tad more fabulous - within our preppy dress codes - at work.
I bet they don't know...
Till now I've been pretty out at most of my workplaces. Perpetual bachelors are always an oddity in a hospital, which gives rise to plenty of gossip fodder. Something Brian Kinney once said in the oft-lamented series Queer as Folk; "Unless I'm fucking you, it's none of your business." So though I don't come right out and say it, I've never denied the charge when asked point-blank.
Any wild schemes of dissembling usually falls through when I realize the perceptive nurses are even better at distinguishing the straight boys from the gay boys than I am.
Nurse : Sigh.
Paul : Why the sigh?
Nurse : This handsome doctor from Ipoh texted to say hi and how I'm doing.
Paul : That's good news, right?
Nurse : Yes, he's terribly handsome, wealthy and single. Very eligible.
Paul : So why the sigh? Sounds like he's interested. Grab him quick.
Nurse : He's no more interested in me than you are.
Paul : How so?
Nurse : Well obviously he has no interest in women.
Paul : Oh. Hmm.
Nurse : Yes.
Paul : Can I have his number then?
Yeah, she knows. Looks like I didn't even have to clip my gay pride badge onto my white coat.
So boys at work determined to remain firmly closeted? That door isn't as tightly shut as you think. There's no use denying since trust me, the nurses always know. The rigors of endless ward work with dozens of patients from all walks of life passing through have made them keen observers of the human condition.