Therapy for LGBT Individuals and Couples
I have years of experience and a deep understanding of the unique challenges that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer individuals and couples face. You may be feeling sad, lonely, anxious, angry or concerned with your relationship. You might have questions about your sexuality, self-judgment, or difficulty negotiating the discomfort of family and friends with your sexuality. Working with a therapist with whom you feel accepted and supported can be immensely helpful in getting clarity about these issues.
Some of the concerns that I help LGBT clients with include:
Growing up Gay
Growing up in a world that is intolerant and rejecting of who you are has an enormous affect. Gay men experience high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, substance abuse, anger, sex addiction, eating disorders and relational problems.
Some are more adept than others in hiding their emerging development but escaping embarrassment and being ostracized is often impossible. Hiding such an essential part of you was often necessary for survival, but over time this can lead to shame, guilt, depression and self-judgment at the very least.
Growing up noticing your differences, not wanting to think about it, hoping it might go away can be a painful lonely struggle.
These struggles are important, unique and need to be heard. They reflect the different ways of surviving Here is a collection of reflections from friends and colleagues.
Voices of Gay men
“I grew up in L.A. and I’m 37. I was and still am very close with my mother. I live in San Francisco and she’s close by. I”m still not out to her.”
“There was no awareness when I was growing up about the diversity of sexuality. You were male or female, straight or in sin. The narrow view of sexuality was a challenge I could not foresee. Even at 50, I need to work on integrating my life and my sexuality in a holistic manner.”
“While growing up in small town in the mid-west in the 1970’s, I was aware of my radical difference, but did not have a way to name it or characterize it. As a kid, the knowledge of this difference led me to solitary pursuits and social awkwardness, which in turn led to being bullied. In seventh grade when an older teen explained to me what a faggot was, using sexually explicit language that I barely understood, I didn’t connect to the term nor the description, but I knew this was the difference that I couldn’t name. At the time I didn’t have overt sexual desire (I was a late bloomer) but I knew then that this most despised of labels was not unfitting, though I verbally denied it each time it was lobbed at me."
“I wasn’t bullied, but when very young, was a bully. Looking back I think I was overcompensating to make sure no one suspected I was effeminate, vulnerable or gay. There are memories of sort of beating up a guy and it being really genital focused. Like I wanted to destroy his penius or mine and what it wanted me to do. My family is pretty progressive for Georgia but I still struggle with their disinterest in the men I date.”
“Growing up in the middle east I probably would have been killed if I came out. Being gay is a sin in my family and religion I grew up with. It was scary to sneak out to underground gay clubs and bars. I escaped to the US and San Francisco with a man. I have addictions with sex and club drugs that today I”m getting help with.”
“This was such a different time and place in NY when I was little. You either loved sports or were a nerd or a sissy. Fortunately I was a jock and had lot’s of friends. It knew I was different but didn’t understand what it was till much later. I was popular in a fraternity, partied too much and slept with women when drunk. I got married and over time cheated on my wife with men. I still never considered myself gay. It was just something I did”
Voices of Lesbians
"As an Italian girl we were not allowed to get our own apartments. We were supposed to get married to leave the house. So I didn't leave my home until I was twenty eight. I knew I was different from my other girl friends in school and on my block. First I was a tomboy feeling more comfortable playing boys games rather than jump rope and pottsy. I remember liking my gym teachers too much. When I started dating boys I never felt comfortable. Never felt their equal. I lived a double life for years dating boys and meeting girlfriends on other days. I was engaged twice not for love but to please my family. Thank goodness these fell apart. I taught physical education in catholic schools and had to lie to other teachers about who I was dating. I could never come out as I would be fired..I drank a lot to escape feelings and what I was doing. It was not accepted to be gay and it was a sin in eyes of Catholics"
"I did not know the word gay or lesbian....all I know is that from the time I was about 10, I felt drawn to girls. I was very popular with boys in grade school, but the attraction and draw to girls was different. Throughout high school and college, I felt drawn to girls, dated boys , but was emotionally connected to girls. I never shared my feelings with anyone. Inside I had the feeling that this was not the norm. So I continued dating boys and eventually married. Things have changed, I divorced my husband years ago and have been with my wife for 30 years"
In therapy I keep in mind the conflict between the emerging essential part of you and how it was likely thwarted by a homophobic judgmental world. I do not assume that every gay man’s history is the same and am interested in learning your story in the context of what you are struggling with today.