• Patricia Grayhall

Why Should Young People Read about What It Was Like for Women and Gays the 1970s?


Why should you read a memoir about what it was like to be a young lesbian woman in the late sixties and seventies? Everyone knows it was harder back then. Things are different now for women, for gay people coming out, and for women choosing medicine as a career. Why rehash the difficulties of the past?


One reason is because the gains women and gay people have made over the past couple of decades are fragile. We could return to that dark time with difference of any kind--gender, color, sexual preference--severely limits one’s choices in life if we are not vigilant. There are still large pockets of the country where this remains true: when who you are and who you love can be life-threatening to some.


Though medicine has opened up to women, three are still many professions where men dominate and determine the culture: the tech industry, among the most notable.

I was motivated to write my story of coming of age in the late sixties and seventies because my success—both as a doctor and as a loyal partner—came at a tremendous cost. My memoir is an effort to document that cost and represents a story that our culture needs to hear. It is relevant not only to lesbian women but also to men and straight women who have never lived the burden of being told their passions amount to “wrong feelings.” But even more so, this story needs to be read by those marginalized people—gay, female, disabled, of color—who are struggling to fulfill dreams that others take for granted. Specifically, the young gay woman in some conservative community who has the intelligence and drive to become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a judge, or a tech industry leader and who needs to understand that such a future may not be easy, but that it is possible.