Gary Cutmore is an inspiration to the Deaf LGBTIQA+ community as he won the Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year in April 2019 at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019. Student Nursing Times is the biggest nursing magazine outside the United States that has been running for over 100 years since it’s launch in 1905 to assist and inform trainee and qualified nurses of updated information, news and healthcare policies. Gary who grew up in Essex, is now living in Dagenham and is a deaf gay BSL user. I asked him a few questions about his achievement.
Tell me more about yourself?
I’m not sure what to say about myself. I’ve won an award – Nursing Times Award for Most Inspirational Student Of The Year. I’m currently studying a foundation degree in Nursing Associate and I’m on my final year. I’m hoping to do a mental health degree as an addition after this course as I hope to work in this field in the future.
Can you tell me why you think you won the award, and what barriers you have had to overcome to get to where you are.
I work hard to achieve where I want to be. I’m proactive and make time to support all patients and staff at work placements and at my current job. I’m told that I’m caring, thoughtful and empathetic. I’m always thriving to learn more about nursing. I guess that people can see that I’m compassionate about my role, and I don’t let my deafness define me. I am an individual student who wants to learn and work hard hence that may be why I won the award.
How did your patients in your workplace react with you having interpreters adding to your and your patients’ communication?
Some patients were fine with me being deaf and having interpreter aiding the communication between us, although some were confused who to talk towards as they would talk to the interpreter as if they were the student nurse, and ignore me but I keep reminding them with a smile that I’m the student nurse in order for them to focus on me.
What support do you have in your studies?
I have BSL interpreters at university and work placements to give me access in full communication. When in some circumstances, I don’t have a BSL interpreter in place, it can be a challenge especially in a group, but I try my hardest to lip-read and write down the essential information. But I won’t let that stop me to continue to work in my role as a nursing associate. I’m determined and don’t let my deafness stop me from where I want to be.
What’s your background- what school did you go to? Was university your first hearing environment?
I went to mainstream school at Sanders Drapers School, which had a Partially Hearing Unit. I had a Communication Support Worker support me in classroom. There was only one other deaf student in my school, a hard of hearing girl in my year. I went to mainstream college as well. So no, university was not my first hearing environment. Also, I grew up in a hearing family; however, I’m lucky that my mum can sign.
What do you hope to do in your career, would you want to do nursing in a specific area? And what challenges will you face when you go up the ladder in your career, and how do you think you will overcome that? Will you be using Access To Work?
I want to become a qualified mental health nurse. I already have a job working on a deaf ward in a mental health hospital as a trainee nursing associate, and I’d like to return to my workplace as a qualified mental health nurse to support the patients. There communication is not an issue for me, however I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters to support me with telephone calls to communicate with staff/family and for multidisciplinary team meetings to communicate with hearing staff. Also, I use interpreters to communicate with patients’ families and for some patients who cannot sign. It is challenging when I go on work placements at general hospitals or care homes to support all staff and patients, however I am thankful that I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters as I find it really helpful.
As this interview is for the LGBTIQA+ UK website, can you tell me a little about your coming out experience?
Yup, coming out, gosh.. umm I guess I was lucky to have some friends came out before me, so it was easier for me to come out as I had build up my confidence in preparation to come out to them as a teenager. I was 18 years old I think.
I came out to my mum when I was 20 but she knew all along and was waiting for me to come out. My deaf friends and I used to meet up every Tuesday at a local gay bar where we would meet new people. It was a good community.
And that’s where I met my first boyfriend.
Have you faced any barriers or discimination as a gay man? What advice would you give to deaf people who are in the process of coming out?
When I was a teenager, I had some teenagers calling me all sorts and that did knock my confidence down, but I ignored them and knew they weren’t my friends. Of course, I felt hurt but I didn’t want to waste my time spending with negative and fake people. I had my own friends – gays and straights who treated me with respect. My gay friends inspired me because they were out and proud to be themselves and enjoying their lives. They worked hard to achieve many things in their lives and enjoyed their lives instead of allowing people to pull them down. My straight friends accept me for who I am and treat me as an individual – Gary, instead of making my sexuality a label as this is not all who I am.
Fortunately I did not face any discrimative issues in my career so far.
My advice to people who are caming out or planning to come out one day – be yourself. You don’t have to impress anyone because everyone’s an individual. Everyone’s different anyway. Don’t do what people think you should do.
You do what you want to do as long as you’re happy and comfortable without anypressure.
Ignore the haters.
Best of luck Gary in your career from all of us in the Deaf LGBTIQA community, as you are an inspiration! See the video link below of his interview for the Nursing Times, which has BSL
Follow Gary on Twitter: @garycutmore