Queer, Gay, & Other Sexualities
Queer, gay, bisexual, & pansexual people represent some of the most beautiful and inspiring humans on Earth, but being a part of this community does not come without its unique challenges. First of all, using words to label someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity can be extremely limiting in honoring the complexities of love, sex, mind, body, and spirit.
Here are a few ways we may identify as LGBTQ and how mental health counseling services can support the process of understanding and exploring these complexities to gain a deeper sense of self esteem, improve relationships, and build a stronger community and heal from mental health disorders common to LGBTQ people, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Most labels associated with LGBTQ identity are heavily based on the gender binary, meaning focusing on only 2 options of gender identity and expression: male and female. There is a general lack of mental health services in the LGBTQ community (& any community) for gender non-conforming, gender-free, gender fluid, and “questioning” people who identify more towards the “male/masculine” or "female/feminine" end of the gender binary spectrum but do not 100% identify as “male” or "female". Queer people may allow other factors (such as relationships, mood, special events, and cultural context) to help them decide how to identify and express themselves at any particular moment, which is a perfectly healthy way to live. In certain cultural contexts, such as the Native American 2-spirit tradition, queerness and gender fluidity have coexisted in communities for thousands of years, only recently facing persecution from organized religions and conservative right-wing politics. A queer-sensitive therapist can provide a confidential environment to explore your uniquely personal relationship to gender identity and expression and support you with navigating gender fluidity with your family, friends, coworkers, and intimate partners.
Gay (what used to be more popularly known as "homosexual") people are still stigmatized and discriminated against in many medical clinics due to the recent history of HIV/AIDS and lack of education about sexual practices, which may include kink and/or polyamory. Gay people commonly face “relational ambiguity,” a psychological issue in which gender roles between boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives can become confused and cause extra stress as a result of not being taught by family, society, or culture how to function in an intimate relationship without the involvement of someone considered to be from the "opposite sex". Working with a competent mental health counselor who is aware of these issues can provide emotional and moral support for exploring solutions in a nonjudgmental way to promote safer sex practices and support the growth of healthy same-sex relationships.
BISEXUAL & PANSEXUAL
Bisexual is another label based on sexual orientation but is not limited to sexual and/or romantically attraction between men. "Heteroflexible" & "homoflexible" are used to describe someone who has the tendency to be more attracted to one gender expression than another but is open to occasional romantic or sexual relationships with other gender expressions. Pansexual takes the openness to the next level and includes sexual attraction to people whose gender identity works outside of the gender binary (read more under “Queer”). Bisexuals are often misunderstood as gay or expected to “cheat” on their partner if they are in a monogamous relationship. Through my psychotherapy, I provide a provide a safe as possible space for individuals, couples, or poly arrangements with bisexuals and pansexuals to develop clear communication skills and relationship contracts to decrease stress and increase trust. (I use many of the principles in "The Ethical Slut" by Janet W. Hardy & Dossie Easton to guide my clients who choose to follow a polyamorous lifestyle.)