LGBT

"Few things in life are more satisfying than the experience of being your whole self, simply and honestly, and feeling good about who you are."
--Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman

Have you known for a long time that you were romantically and sexually attracted to people of your own gender or to both (or all) gender variations?

Have you considered yourself straight for a large part of your life but have recently begun to realize your are more attracted to people of your gender than to the opposite one?

Do you feel like you were born into the wrong body and are, in actuality, the opposite gender?

Have you tried and tried to "make" yourself be straight or cisgender in order to avoid society's disapproval? Did that work? That is, were you able to force yourself to change from what you are to what your family or society thinks you should be?

Are you unsure of your sexual orientation?

Have you thought you might be gay but now wonder if you are actually transgender or gender variant?

Do you feel that you have to wear a mask to keep your sexual orientation or actual gender a secret?

Are you confused by statements from people saying that being gay is a choice or that it is morally wrong?

If you are a LGBT teenager reading this, I want you to know there is a great deal of support and help for you. Go to the Trevor Project, which provides counseling in crisis situations, It Gets Better, and PFLAG for starters. See "Resources" for some wonderful, supportive books. If you are planning for college, here is a helpful resource for LGBT individuals: (please copy and paste into browser)  http://www.affordablecolleges.com/resources/lgbtq-college-resources/

I am gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender affirming-psychotherapist.  I do not see any sexual orientation or gender identity as a choice, as a person's being confused, as a mental illness, or as morally wrong.  You are who you are, and that is how you are supposed to be.

Virtually every LGBT person today has been a victim of our society's homophobia and/or transphobia, to the point that many, if not most, LGBT persons at least initially internalize these phobias as negative feelings about themselves.  Societal homophobia and transphobia create shame, isolation and neglect that is emotionally traumatizing for gay and gender variant children and teens.  These problems often persist into adulthood.

As an LGBT adult, you may be not even be aware that certain issues you struggle with today can be the result of having to hide or even disown an essential part of who you are.  This is not to imply that every issue you have is necessarily a result of cultural phobias.  But they do frequently create many adjustment, relationship, and other problems, and you are not to blame for this.

My intention is not to create a victim mentality in any client, but to help people thrive.  At the same time, it is helpful to recognize how you have been affected by society's granting privileged status to straight and cisgender people while shaming and denying gay and trans people.  In spite of society's extreme biases, however, emotional healing and full self-approval are available to you.

In addition to helping you work though these issues, I am happy to help you come out to family, friends, and/or work, if you choose to come out. Many people are heavily influenced by societal, religious, and culural ideas about sexual orientation and gender identity.  To whatever extent they may be able to soften the rigidity of their beliefs and become more accepting, your relationship with them will likely improve.

At the same time, it is your right to come out only in certain arenas of your life but not others, to come out only to a few supportive people, or not to come out to anyone at all except yourself.  Coming out to yourself and accepting yourself is the most important coming out.  As soon as you accept yourself, you are acceptable!  If others do not approve of you, it means there are things they do not approve of in themselves. It says nothing about you.

For the record, I absolutely do not believe in nor in any way support conversion therapy, or reparative therapy, which purports to cure a gay or lesbian or transgender person and make them straight or cisgender.  It is not a legitimate form of pychotherapy, it is abusive and dangerous, and it has been condemned by the American Psychological Association, the AmericanPsychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pan American Health Organization. 

In addition, conversion therapy is completely ineffective.  There are some people who are so desperate to escape the harsh judgment of society and find some acceptance (and we cannot blame them for this) that they make themselves act the way they are told they should, and they convince themselves that they really are that way.  In other words, they go back into the closet.  But that is hardly a cure.  Nor should any therapy expect people to completely repress a vital aspect of themselves.

It is not possible for a person's sexual orientation or gender identity to be changed.  It cannot happen, any more than you can be "cured" of the color of your eyes.  True, you can wear contact lenses of a different color so nobody will see your true eye color.  But your natural eye color is yours from before birth, just as is your natural, authentic, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  In either case, there is nothing to cure.