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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Jonas Raider, MOTR

Name: Jonas Raider

Pronouns: He/him/his

Identity: Gay/Queer

Background: I grew up in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, and have spent the past 5 years living all over the US and Europe between grad school, travels, and a year teaching American culture in Spain. I was recommended OT by my older sister who is also an OT, and it came naturally as I wanted to find a profession that focused on helping individuals to increase their independence through collaboration and open dialogue. Outside OT, I value learning about languages, street photography, thrifting, cooking, biking, hiking, and house/techno music.

Profession: Occupational Therapist Turned User Experience (UX) Researcher

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I love advocating for OT in non-traditional settings and paving the way for our role in areas we haven’t previously existed. Refugee resettlement, community health, and the design world are my preferred areas of practice, and I hope to continue expanding upon this and advocating for our importance!  

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Unfortunately, many within the LGBTQIA+ community have experienced and continue to experience difficulties in accessing affirming healthcare services. Although I plan to work outside of direct client care in the healthcare sphere, being out means advocating for queer clients’ and coworkers’ voices in the design world to address more inclusive products and experiences. It also means setting an example for younger generations to see themselves represented and thriving, something I didn’t have many models of when I was younger.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: Since coming out publicly at 16, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and grow in the ways I connect to the queer community over the years. I think it is important to realize that just like other aspects of life, your queer identity fluctuates in the role it plays! Years ago due to internalized homophobia, I would distance myself from queer people as I felt the proximity would take away from my perceived idea that living closer to a “straight passing” identity was important. Although this may work for other individuals and I in no way look down upon people who feel that needs to be an important theme intertwined with their queerness, it was liberating over the years to unlearn this perceived necessity, and just exist. My queerness is as integral to who I am as the fact that I love spending time outdoors.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: When I see other cisgender people put their pronouns in their profiles, emails, or other spaces, it makes me happy to see that it is finally becoming more of a movement. It is on us cisgender people to normalize this so that our trans and non-binary friends, coworkers, students, and clients don’t have to put in extra emotional energy to advocate for their livelihood. I feel whole when the actions of my peers allow my trans and non-binary friends to feel safe, heard, and seen.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means showing up in straight spaces with confidence and remaining unapologetic in how I present my queer identity and exist. It also means constantly questioning the systems that exist that center whiteness and heteronormativity and making room for others who deserve a seat at the table. Taking up space in queer spaces means realizing the privileges I embody in being white and cis-gendered, and taking a step back to center, hear, and listen to the lived experiences of Trans, Non-Binary, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) within the community.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: If you’re unsure of how to interact or honor your patients, be honest with them and ask questions! Honesty in admitting when you don’t know something and a commitment to seeking out information to expand your expertise goes a long way in terms of affirming the care, safety, and trust of your clients. If you want to validate your clients, ask them what their lived experiences and preferences are, take criticism when you are corrected or informed, and go from there. 

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: Returning to the suburbs where I grew up to see a doctor for check ups occasionally, there have been (many) frustrating moments of internalized homophobia and unnecessary awkwardness that have been displayed by healthcare providers towards me.

Where can people find you?: You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me via email at Jonasianraider@gmail.com

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Enrique Puentes, OTS

Name: Enrique Puentes

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Identity: Gay

Background: Both of my parents immigrated from Colombia, and I was born in Washington, D.C. I grew up in Northern Virginia but have spent the last fourteen years living in Central Florida. I have spent the past eight years working in catastrophe property insurance but have always had a longing for wanting to be in a profession that helped others improve. I finally decided to make the career transition and now am in my second term of my master’s degree.

Profession: Occupational Therapy Student (MOT)

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I have huge interests in both Mental Health and Inpatient Rehabilitation but am unsure of where I may ultimately end up.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: For me, being out in healthcare for me means inviting people to see my truest self. Representation of LGBT people in healthcare is important because not only does it create safe spaces for clients to feel they are being advocated for, but it also can help demystify misunderstandings that non-queer people have of the very community that I am a part of. I see being out in healthcare as a form of activism for anyone who has ever felt either marginalized in a society that has long celebrated heteronormativity.  

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I want people to know that I am embracing the best possible version of myself by being out as an individual in healthcare. It is important for me to not be ‘discrete’ about my sexuality, because by me fully loving all aspects of my identity, I can in turn emanate the same level of love and care for others. 

How do you feel when your identity is included?: When my identity is included as both brown and gay, I feel included and seen as an equal amongst a group.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means feeling pride about my own visibility and feeling the confidence in the fact that my visibility matters. I unfortunately did not always think/feel this way, so it’s empowering for me to live in this truth.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: I think with any profession that involves interacting with all kinds of people (with varying cultures, backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, sexual orientations or gender expressions), we will almost certainly at some point, come to meet someone that we lack the education on, on how to honor and respect these individuals. Maintaining a sense of humility when engaging in these interactions is key to posturing yourself in a manner that is receptive to learning from these interactions. For healthcare professions in particular, it would behoove the practitioner to educate themselves on available resources that speaks on best care practices. Remember the importance of being client-centered in your approach and advocating for the client’s desires and wishes. 

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: My identity has impacted the healthcare that I have received. I have encountered practicing physicians who have not been aware of pre-exposure prophylaxis medications. It’s an odd feeling having to educate your own doctor on what this is and why you are requesting a prescription for this. I have also had experiences where healthcare professionals made assumptions of my sexual orientation. I greatly see the need for education of healthcare professions in working with LGBTQ clients.

Where can people find you?: Follow me on Instagram! (@ProudOTStudent)

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Matt Wild BSN, RN

Name: Matthew Wild


Pronouns: He/him/his


Identity: Gay

Background: I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I decided to  enter nursing school because I was always inspired by the compassionate care that nurses provided me throughout my life. 

Profession: Nursing

Area(s) of practice: Mental/Behavioral Health

What does being out in healthcare mean to you?: Being out in healthcare means accepting that you are a role model to those around you. Living my truth is not always easy, but even if it eventually inspires one person to do the same, or feel represented in some way, I’m happy. 

What is one thing you think everyone should know about your specific identity or the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole?: It’s important to never make assumptions about an individual based on your stereotypes of the collective group. Each person is unique in their own way and should be treated so.

How do you feel when your identity is acknowledged and included, in the workplace/ in media OR how do you feel when your identity is not included or acknowledged?: It is amazing to see in my lifetime, the drastic changes that have already occurred in regards to LGBTQIA+ representation in the media and in workplaces. I’m hoping that the ball keeps rolling and that this can be the case for every member of the community.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: It means living my truth and helping those around me understand better. It means showing clients who come through the clinic doors that this is a safe space, and while we may not get everything right the first time for them, they can count on the fact that we are always evolving for the better

What is one piece of advice that you would give to a healthcare professional that is unsure of how to/inexperienced with honoring and including the identity on someone within the LGBTQIA+ community while receiving healthcare services?: Accepting that you don’t have all of the answers is the first step to a therapeutic relationship with a client in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even for me, my experiences as a gay man may be completely different than those of another gay man. Understanding that a client shouldn’t have to constantly explain their existence and identity to healthcare professionals is also important.


Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received in the past? Absolutely, I remember being asked on a physical if I was “safe when I was privately with girls,” or, “a guy like you must have no problem finding a nice girl.” It’s hard for some people to understand that their assumptions can be really harmful to the mental health of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and even in some cases deter them from receiving treatment.

Where you can find Matt:

Instagram: @mjameswild