Healthcare is one arena in which LGBTQ people sometimes struggle to find accepting, informed professionals to aid their healing. One registered nurse, Deedrae “Dee” Murray of Novant Health’s post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), is determined to fill that gap. Murray, 55, dealt firsthand with the difficulty of being an open lesbian trying to break into the healthcare profession.
Helping people heal has been Murray’s passion all her life, and working her way up from a nursing assistant position, she is now a registered nurse veteran of nearly a decade. This accomplishment was a long time coming, and Murray’s career grew side-by-side with her relationship. Now married for 10 years, Murray and her wife, Riley, live in a happy home with 19-month-old granddaughter, Skyler. The couple has supported four children to adulthood, and have 10 grandchildren in total.
Family and medicine are Murray’s central motivators, and it all comes down to the nurturing nature of this remarkable woman. A Charlotte, N.C. resident of 25 years, Murray’s life is an illustration of loyalty and service.
What drove you to pursue a career in nursing, and specifically in the PACU?
I have always been interested in science and the medical field for as long as I can remember. I have worked in the healthcare field since I was 16. My first job was as a nursing assistant and I enjoyed being able to help people who were sometimes at their lowest point. It was fulfilling to be able to see the difference I could make in someone’s day or life. I finally had the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a registered nurse in 2009. I love PACU specifically because it challenges my skills as a nurse, and also, I am blessed to work with a wonderful group of women. The teamwork is incredible! My work home at Novant Health is very committed to diversity and is involved with the LGBTQ community.
Do you have hobbies or activities that you do to relax, or just for fun?
I like to read when I get a chance, and I also enjoy music immensely. My favorite activity is playing with my grandchildren. They keep me young!
Who are the cornerstones of your support system?
First of all, my church and choir family from Caldwell Presbyterian. I am blessed to still have my father living, who is 93 years old. My PACU girls are a blessing. Of course, most importantly, my family and my wife, Riley Murray.
If you won a free three-course meal at a restaurant of your choice, where would you go and what would you order?
Anywhere that has great seafood (especially crab legs) and a great view.
How does your LGBTQ identity impact your work?
I came out in a time when it was not okay to be public, and I hid my identity as a lesbian for a long time, especially at work. However, I quickly learned that with most people, if they got to know your heart and who you truly were as a person, the other stuff didn’t matter. Although, my sexual orientation has caused some difficult conversations at times. I have learned over the years to be proud of who I am as a person, and my being a lesbian is only a small part of that. I feel that people from the LGBTQ community have faced bias and discrimination in healthcare. If I can help in some small way by helping them feel comfortable and welcome at Novant Health, I am proud to do so.
If you were to meditate, what would you picture as your “happy place”?
Most certainly and without hesitation, the beach. Any beach!
How do you spend the perfect day off from work and responsibilities?
Well, if I am not enjoying my grandchildren, I would spend it outside. I prefer somewhere near water, reading, possibly listening to some live music. Maybe I’d even enjoy a good nap!