The DIOP Circle V.23

November 24th, 2019


Jehdeiah Maitland

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're proud to present Jehdeiah Maitland, our 282nd customer. And he's going to share how he worked to understand and accept himself.

Although my journey is unique, I wish it were more common.

In high school, I was President of a service organization called the Benevolent Warriors, whose primary goal was create change through community engagement.

Though I was raised in a very tight knit community, I always knew I was not the same as the other people around me. I grew up in the suburbs around non-Black people so I retained a separate sense of self very early on. And yet because of how many people were around, I was a very joyful and vivacious person.

Influenced by the queer people I knew, I began to explore my personal style.

They say what you wear is your first opinion. I needed clothes that vibed with my more personal vision for myself. I didn’t wear bright clothes growing up. I was a prototypical preppy person but I started seeing things that made me more comfortable. Everything started fitting a little better and what I felt on the inside matched how I felt on the outside.

It took time for a lot of things to percolate. When I started my first job at Abercrombie & Fitch, it was the first instance spending extended periods of time with people who were queer. I had a mix of colleagues who it turned out were on a similar journey; older co-workers who were very open and expressive and younger people developing their own identities. I could feel the contentment, even joy that came from being one’s self. I learned it was an option to be queer and happy at the same time.

My senior year of college, I did an independent research project about the barriers for minorities, particularly African American students to matriculate through nursing school. This ignited my passion for research and Diversity and Inclusion in healthcare (I currently serve as chair of my hospital’s Diversity and inclusion committee).

As I transitioned to college, I began to feel more freedom. The way I felt kinship to other people changed. I grew up building community through the church and it shifted my perspective to relate to others based on their interests. I played cello in college and met a diverse group of people interested in things like politics and art. There was community outside of what I thought had existed previously. I even began watching Gay couples on YouTube and realized the universality of our shared experience.

Post-college was the greatest change. I had started to accept myself and was happy with the person that I was. And though I had took ownership of my queer identity, I assumed I would live with it but not be open about it. That was until six months after school, someone I knew outed me to my family. They told me they wanted nothing to do with me. It was a Tuesday. I was out of the house on Friday.

Over the course of my journey, I had suspected something like this could happen so I created resources in case of an emergency. My then manager and his husband were very supportive as I made choices I’d never even had to consider before. I struggled with how I wanted to be perceived in the world. What did it mean to be authentic?

As I grew older, a sense of service became more important. I like being useful and helpful to others. That’s why I became a nurse. Giving more than you receive feels intrinsically valuable. I now work at one of the busiest trauma centers in the Midwest. We take care of all sorts of people.

Sometimes you have to manage not only your emotions but also your appearance. We have to be mindful of the power dynamic, especially when it comes to patients and their families.

I also joined the Gay Men's Chorus. I had never been around that many queer people in one space. They were much older than me and their experience was drastically different from me. but what was important was that they showed me what it meant to be queer to them. And as a queer millennial, the experience clarified the unique challenges we face as a cohort.


The DIOP Circle V.23

November 24th, 2019


Jehdeiah Maitland

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're proud to present Jehdeiah Maitland, our 282nd customer. And he's going to share how he worked to understand and accept himself.

Although my journey is unique, I wish it were more common.

In high school, I was President of a service organization called the Benevolent Warriors, whose primary goal was create change through community engagement.

Though I was raised in a very tight knit community, I always knew I was not the same as the other people around me. I grew up in the suburbs around non-Black people so I retained a separate sense of self very early on. And yet because of how many people were around, I was a very joyful and vivacious person.

Influenced by the queer people I knew, I began to explore my personal style.

They say what you wear is your first opinion. I needed clothes that vibed with my more personal vision for myself. I didn’t wear bright clothes growing up. I was a prototypical preppy person but I started seeing things that made me more comfortable. Everything started fitting a little better and what I felt on the inside matched how I felt on the outside.

It took time for a lot of things to percolate. When I started my first job at Abercrombie & Fitch, it was the first instance spending extended periods of time with people who were queer. I had a mix of colleagues who it turned out were on a similar journey; older co-workers who were very open and expressive and younger people developing their own identities. I could feel the contentment, even joy that came from being one’s self. I learned it was an option to be queer and happy at the same time.

My senior year of college, I did an independent research project about the barriers for minorities, particularly African American students to matriculate through nursing school. This ignited my passion for research and Diversity and Inclusion in healthcare (I currently serve as chair of my hospital’s Diversity and inclusion committee).

As I transitioned to college, I began to feel more freedom. The way I felt kinship to other people changed. I grew up building community through the church and it shifted my perspective to relate to others based on their interests. I played cello in college and met a diverse group of people interested in things like politics and art. There was community outside of what I thought had existed previously. I even began watching Gay couples on YouTube and realized the universality of our shared experience.

Post-college was the greatest change. I had started to accept myself and was happy with the person that I was. And though I had took ownership of my queer identity, I assumed I would live with it but not be open about it. That was until six months after school, someone I knew outed me to my family. They told me they wanted nothing to do with me. It was a Tuesday. I was out of the house on Friday.

Over the course of my journey, I had suspected something like this could happen so I created resources in case of an emergency. My then manager and his husband were very supportive as I made choices I’d never even had to consider before. I struggled with how I wanted to be perceived in the world. What did it mean to be authentic?

As I grew older, a sense of service became more important. I like being useful and helpful to others. That’s why I became a nurse. Giving more than you receive feels intrinsically valuable. I now work at one of the busiest trauma centers in the Midwest. We take care of all sorts of people. Sometimes you have to manage not only your emotions but also your appearance. We have to be mindful of the power dynamic, especially when it comes to patients and their families.

I also joined the Gay Men's Chorus. I had never been around that many queer people in one space. They were much older than me and their experience was drastically different from me. but what was important was that they showed me what it meant to be queer to them. And as a queer millennial, the experience clarified the unique challenges we face as a cohort.

I feel that socially, we are at an inflection point. The desire for change has spurred a lot of activism, but there’s a significant part of our community that is entrenched in dogma; much of which are close-minded and conservative traditions that only serve the few. Climate change, for example, isn’t going away whether we choose to believe it or not. As we all become more conscious, the question of what we do becomes just as fundamental as our values.

My favorite thing about my journey is that it isn’t over yet. As textured as my experience has been, there’s still a sense of something more out there. I had to work so hard to understand and accept myself.

Sometimes there’s a sense that being one’s authentic self implies a lack of safety in one’s identity and that we have to compromise who we are in order to be accepted. I know I’m privileged enough to begin this process and there are so many people out there who aren’t able to. I’m excited to explore further.

People aren’t that different. Everyone has something that makes them unique. And yet, despite our differences, we can connect with anyone. The best advice I can offer is to build bridges. It’s what makes life great. And if not for those relationships, I don’t know where I’d be. You never know just what those bridges can mean to someone.


By Jehdeiah Maitland

Follow Jehdeiah @ottermurse_

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


I feel that socially, we are at an inflection point. The desire for change has spurred a lot of activism, but there’s a significant part of our community that is entrenched in dogma; much of which are close-minded and conservative traditions that only serve the few. Climate change, for example, isn’t going away whether we choose to believe it or not. As we all become more conscious, the question of what we do becomes just as fundamental as our values.

My favorite thing about my journey is that it isn’t over yet. As textured as my experience has been, there’s still a sense of something more out there. I had to work so hard to understand and accept myself.

Sometimes there’s a sense that being one’s authentic self implies a lack of safety in one’s identity and that we have to compromise who we are in order to be accepted. I know I’m privileged enough to begin this process and there are so many people out there who aren’t able to. I’m excited to explore further.

People aren’t that different. Everyone has something that makes them unique. And yet, despite our differences, we can connect with anyone. The best advice I can offer is to build bridges. It’s what makes life great. And if not for those relationships, I don’t know where I’d be. You never know just what those bridges can mean to someone.

- Jehdeiah Maitland


Follow Jehdeiah @ottermurse_

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.