The Basics of LGBTQ Affirmative Philosophy
If they existed it was in three ways, all negatives, a group of sinners, “an abomination the eye of God; as a group of criminals for whom sex was against the law; and as a category the mentally ill, in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric association defined them.
That was the condition of life for Homosexuals in this country on the Friday night in 1969 when New York City raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village called “The Stonewall Inn”. I was a bar that had been raided many times before. It was a population-In New York and elsewhere - that was accustomed to raids and arrests. But that night for the first time, the usual acquiesce turned into a violent resistance. There where stones thrown windows and doors broken, flames and people running in the street. It was not exactly the big time as riots go, but it was historic-a departure from the past. From that night the lives of millions of gay men and lesbians, and the and the attitude toward them of the larger culture in which the lived, began to change rapidly. People began to appear in public as homosexuals, demanding respect. And the culture began to react to them. (1) Just 50 years ago Stonewall Riots was the first step in LGBTQ liberation and struggle of equal rights in the United States.
Much has changed in the past 50 years once identified as “sinners, criminals, or an abomination” had changed and so did the listing as mentally ill has been dropped from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and identify with more acceptive terms like families, partners, neighbors, and friends.
As society changes, we develop ways to identify or label our relationships with others. In today’s modern culture it is more common to hear the phrase “LGBTQ friendly”, “Gay Friendly”, and we have stepped away from identifying oneself as what was seen as abrasive and antiquated term “Gay tolerant”. Another term we are slowly becoming aware of is “LGBTQ Affirmative”.
LGBTQ Affirmative psychotherapy states that “Homosexuality or bisexuality is not a mental illness, in accordance with global scientific consensus. In fact, embracing and affirming gay identity can be a key component to recovery from other mental illnesses or substance abuse” (2) and is just starting to get some momentum and resources that support this approach.
For many LGBTQ persons who seek therapy often look for therapist that will be able to feel comfortable enough to work with and often find these terms difficult to distinguish what friendly or affirmative means when seeking support and understanding. With respect, many therapists work with LGBTQ identified clients, though open minded, supportive, and liberal in their approach may have had few resources or training with LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy modalities until recently.
It has been documented that LGBTQ’s may find themselves struggling and feeling the need to explain and educating a therapist when it comes to the diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression even when the therapist may have experience with and personally identify as LGBTQIA themselves. These individuals also may fear the stigma and discrimination that sometimes occurs when a person struggles with the healthcare system with physical and mental health issues outside of LGBTQ centers that work specifically with this population.
LGBTQ affirmative therapy specializes in addressing some of the deeper issues that these individuals face in a heteronormative religious society and begin to explore their experience with the impact of cultural norms, trauma and internalized homophobia.
As a LGBTQ Affirmative therapist, I feel fortunate to work in a treatment center that is open and welcoming of the LGBTQ population in the gentrified heart of West Hollywood as some like to call “The Gayborhood” and have the opportunity to work with individuals, families and couples.
Working with individuals in 1x1 session I often refer to the Cass model which focuses on the exploration of Identity, Comparison; How we see our self in society, Tolerance; Identifying Internalized Homophobia, Acceptance; Authenticity, Pride and Inclusion, and finally Synthesis.
In a rapidly changing world, it is important to stay current and educate myself and clients about the LGBTQ culture throughout History, discuss and explore issues ranging from Internalized Homophobia, Multiple Oppressions, Coming Out, Transphobia, Lesbian invisibility, Guilt and Shame, Equality, Her/History and Myth.
Damien Gonsalves LMFT, LGBTQ Affirmative therapist lives and works in West Hollywood California.
1. Dudley Clendinen, Adam Nagourey. Out for Good 2001;12
2. Wilkerson JM, Rybicki S, Barber CA, Smolenski DJ. Creating a culturally competent clinical environment for LGBT patients. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2011;23(3):376–394.
Health Anxiety is something that is in all of our minds presently. It also manifests in our bodies like an undetected virus manifested by stress and anxiety. It a scary time with so much information swirling around about corona-virus, I spend a lot of time thinking ”Am I at risk, are my family and friends safe, am I infected and endangering others?”
Is the “The Normal” or simply "The New Normal”?
Over the past few weeks we feel the need to be continually be updated on the facts and the fears. It seems little can’t put our minds at ease. I found myself spending a lot of time checking and re-checking updates to see what is the up to the minute news and information.
New and blogs all carrying the message “Stay out of heavily populated areas crowded areas, continue to thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands, and minimize the amount of times we touch our eyes and face. Every cough, sneeze, or sniffle, we begin the internal dance of hyper-pathologizing ourselves and others. Living one dry cough away from a Haz-mat container of ostracized and self-quarantined.
I call this emotional hijack, when I ruminate on "what could be”, “what's what,” and "what’s not” throwing me into a distorted spiral of circulating ,negative thoughts. Fearing that I will never find a door out of this feeling. When I finally took a breath, a mindful moment helped me re-directed my thoughts back to Self-Care.
Somebody with health anxiety will often misinterpret normal or non-serious physical symptoms and attribute them to something more serious. Some symptoms produced by anxiety which can include muscle pain, chest pain, heart rate changes, headaches, and dizziness, among others — can heighten existing anxiety about one's health. When you notice yourself in a loop?
I have learned some techniques that will lessen my anxiety
First Write down a number 0-10
0-being Zen and
10 being Distressed- Where are you ?
Self-Havening done can be done anywhere and daily
It consists of l
1) light brushstrokes with your fingertips over the eyebrows a couple times and then slightly on the upper cheekbone.
2)Cross your arms and rub shoulders to biceps 7- 8 times
3) Follow with rubbing your palms together like you are washing them.
A few of my favorites Havens:
Describe a safe space- Describe using 5 senses
Describe a Favorite travel experience
Your personal affirmation “You got this”
Write a Gratitude list 3-5 things big or small:
Then Write down on the Top of the page a Re-Frame.
Here are 3 to choose from;
“I am Grateful For….”
“I appreciate having___________ in my life”
“_______________ is a gift”
Say the list aloud or maybe a close friend who helps you keep accountable
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