Dr. Patricia Grayhall's 'Making the Rounds'

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022
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author Dr. Patricia Grayhall
author Dr. Patricia Grayhall

Beginning with her earliest memories of trying to fit in, "Making the Rounds: Defying Norms In Love & Medicine" is an interesting memoir and Grayhall's first book.

Like many LGBTQ people from stiflingly conservative places, Patricia Grayhall fled her hometown of Phoenix when she was just 19 years old to find freedom in San Francisco. Determined to live openly as a lesbian and join the medical profession, she fulfilled both dreams by attending medical school in the early 1970s in Salt Lake City and then Boston.

Readers will get a real education on what it was like to be one of only five women in medical school in Salt Lake City, and the only female intern in Boston.

Grayhall intimates the many difficulties that arise in such a situation, such as having to endure the raunchy jokes told by a professor that seem aimed at her. But with boundless courage, she was determined to not let it bother her one whit. Her eyes remained firmly fixed on the goal: completing her studies and successfully being able to practice medicine.

Memorably, Grayhall's forthrightness and candor echo the feelings of many, such as when she writes about what it was like to endure the grueling hours of medical training at that time while battling social isolation.

"Tossed around in the rough seas of medical training, chronically exhausted, and emotionally drained, I yearned to have a stable love relationship that would offer the same care and support my male colleagues seemed to find in their wives and girlfriends."

Back at that time, without female classmates to befriend, Grayhall joined forces with a gay male intern and together they successfully made the rounds. They were even tasked with testing medication on a live monkey at that time.

Patricia Grayhall at Harvard Medical School in 1983  

As with any good memoir, a large part of the book is spent trying to digest what happened with past loves. Revisiting what happened was ultimately a very healing exercise for her that tied up some loose ends.

No doubt, the '70s were a fascinating time to be alive. To illustrate, one of the anecdotes is about a steamy night she spent with her love in Berkeley when they discovered that a gruff man had broken into their apartment. They screamed. He asked if they had drugs. He threatened them with a knife. But then he noticed they were both naked in bed, and having instantly earned his respect, he backed off, declaring, "...Tha's cool, tha's cool."

To protect her privacy as well as the privacy of some of her characters, Grayhall decided to write under a pen name.

To be sure, a major takeaway of "Making the Rounds: Defying Norms In Love & Medicine" is that although Grayhall had to find her way without any signposts on the journey, the book is written as a guide for young women, and affirmation for older women who in some way lived this history.

Beyond that, this book is must-reading for anyone interested in learning about the brave women who paved the way for equality in education, anyone who wants to learn what it was like to come out back when same-sex attraction was still naively categorized as a disorder, and anyone who has ever felt different.

Dr. Patricia Grayhall will be in San Francisco for a book signing Nov. 13, 12pm-3pm at Passages Book Store, One Ferry Building, and at Passages, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, in Corte Madera on Nov. 15, 1-2pm for a live and virtual panel of She Writes Press authors, The Thrill of Life's Next Chapter.

"Making the Rounds: Defying Norms In Love & Medicine," by Patricia Grayhall; She Writes Press, $17.95

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