If you, like The Sun, think it's important that a male nurse used to be a gay porn star, reassess your priorities

What would a gay slut-shaming story be without making reference to HIV – 'that inevitably fatal immune disease,' as my grandmother once referred to it in one of her longer emails to me about my sexuality? Never fear! They found one of those too

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Many of you will, like me, have done a double take yesterday when an article surfaced about a 23-year-old nurse who had previously worked in the adult entertainment industry, a "revelation" brought to light by The Sun.

There is self-evidently no public interest in this story at all – whether or not a person once starred in an adult film, gay or otherwise, has no bearing on whether they can effectively train as medical personnel. Why, then, was this nasty piece of writing even published?

The tabloid media these days avoids the traditional (and now taboo) approach of universally condemning all gay people, and instead prefers to maintain a degree of plausible deniability, playing to people's prejudices and capitalising on their fears. Who, after all, could forget the Daily Mail’s headline (later changed after an online outcry) about the three “judges who blocked Brexit: One founded a EUROPEAN law group, another charged the taxpayer millions for advice and the third is an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer.”

The nurse in The Sun’s story is a gay man, and it does feel a bit like an “outing”. There is undoubtedly a hot, throbbing vein of potent homophobia here, although if he were a straight woman it’s clear this story would still have run: sexism sells just as well as anti-gay sentiment. And let’s not forget that there’s undoubtedly a dollop of slut-shaming in this decidedly unsavoury recipe as well.

As readers, we are invited not only to be outraged at the fact that this dashing young nurse is a gay man, but that he has also had gay sex with numerous partners, on camera, for money, and now has the audacity to be masquerading as a fully qualified nurse. It is all but suggested that we have the poor man led naked through the street by a severe looking nun with a handbell crying: “Shame! Shame!” à la Game of Thrones.

And what would a gay slut-shaming story be without making reference to HIV – "that inevitably fatal immune disease," as my grandmother once referred to it in one of her longer emails to me about my sexuality? Never fear! They found one. Visitors to the article are presented with a snap of our unwitting protagonist with his National HIV Nurses Association certificate. The dirty, slutty hypocrite!

Personally I was not at all outraged by this young man’s CV: he sounds impressively illustrious to me, and I have the utmost respect for anyone pursuing a career in nursing, being far too self-centred myself for that ever to have been a realistic consideration in terms of my own career route.

I imagine that when applying to become a nurse, it’s unlikely that he cited his previous experience in the area of adult film-making – largely because it didn’t seem particularly relevant to his burgeoning career in nursing. I have various friends who funded their way through university via similar means, and I don’t imagine they lead with it on their resumé.

I completely understand that not everyone reading the article is going to be as understanding of the young man's earlier career choices as I am, but I was heartened to see that the vast majority of the reader comments appending the offending article were by and large less to do with a gay adult performer's filmography, and much more to do with the right to privacy of a young nurse, on whose life this story is bound to have a monumental and potentially lasting impact.

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