Gays, Lesbians and GLBTQ

A new generation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender are coming of age in a society increasingly tolerant and yet still deeply divided about homosexuality. On one hand, there is increased openness, media attention, and openly gay and lesbian role models. On the other hand, there is an increased backlash in the form of religious fundamentalism, violence, and legal intervention designed to “protect” traditional marriages and families.

Some individuals who overcome their sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity, these issues may not be a source of distress However, individuals or couples who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, or any other type of non-conforming sexual or gender identity (known as LGBT, LGBTQ, or LGBTQIA, among others) may face social challenges and may find that the social stigma of living as a sexual minority is a source of stress or anxiety.

Finding a qualified mental health professional, psychotherapist or couples therapist who has experience and familiarity with issues that confront the LGBTQ community can be critical to successful therapy outcomes. It is important to find counselor who is qualify to address issues associated with one’s sexual, romantic, or gender identity or for any other issue.

Individuals are coming out may face many challenging situations. They may feel distress over conflict between personal values, religious beliefs, sexual feelings and other principles. spiral2grow of New York City provides respectful and competent  psychotherapists as well as couples counselor that works with gay clients to help them explore and eventually live more comfortably with their choices that is consistent with their values, beliefs and sexuality.

spiral2grow provides Gay Couples Therapy in New York City that integrates cutting-edge effective counseling models to help gay couples thrive. Our skilled and compassionate therapists utilize proven therapy method for couples such as Gottman Method Couples Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Schema Therapy, Interpersonal Neurobiology therapy (IPNB), and other latest method.

Overview of Homosexuality

Homosexuality refers to sexual behavior with or attraction to people of the same sex, or to a homosexual orientation. With respect to homosexual orientation, homosexuality refers to “having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of one’s own sex”; “it also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality together make up the three main classifications of sexual orientation and are the factors in the Heterosexual-homosexual continuum.

It takes tremendous courage to come out of the closet. Not long ago (and still in some areas today) gay people experienced discrimination. They were banned from civil service jobs. They were denied state license to teach or to practice law, denied citizenship and more. In addition, gay people were demonized in the press and even worse were considered psychologically ill.

Things today take positive changes to establish equality in western civilization and many LGBT people feel comfortable to reveal their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to be openly LGBT. Yet, for many individual it is a difficult process as it requires overcoming many personal, psychological, familial and social resistances.

The subject of homosexuality has often been surrounded by controversy. Much of the dispute centers on whether homosexuality and bisexuality should be treated as morally, socially, and legally equivalent to heterosexuality. As such, the development of self-identification as homosexual or gay is a psychological and socially complex state, something which, in this society, is achieved only over time, often with considerable personal struggle and self-doubt, not to mention social discomfort.

Sexual Identity Development

The path toward sexual identity, like all personal identities, requires self discovery and overcoming special challenges. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender (GLBT), have a sense of their difference for a while before they tell anyone. There is about a few-year period for most when they self-identify as non-heterosexual but keep this information to themselves. People assume, like everyone else, that they are heterosexual. To have the knowledge that they are different, they must hold conflicting ideas in their head at the same time. “I am normal and I have feelings that are abnormal and wrong, so the feelings must be wrong or I don’t really have these feelings.” When individuals do come out to others, it is usually to a trusted friend, and rarely to a parent first. The process of coming out and wiping away the last trace of internalized homophobia takes years, and sometimes, a lifetime.

Cass lists six stages that many homosexuals go through when dealing with their own sexual orientation. These stages have been widely accepted by professionals and gay men and women alike. They include:

Identity Awareness – The point when the individual begins to realize he or she has feelings that are different from others and different from what they have been taught.

Identity Comparison – The individual begins to explore his or her feelings alone and to compare them to the beliefs of society, parents, and peers.

Identity Tolerance – During this stage, the individual will often rebel against his or her feelings and attempt to deny them. After all, nobody wants to be gay in a straight world.

Identity Acceptance – After realizing that sexuality is a part of who they are, they begin to embrace it, explore their feelings and desires, and start to find a place in the world where they are accepted and belong.

Identity Pride – Often involves anger toward parents, society, religion, or other aspects of the world that tells them that they are bad, wrong, immoral, or mentally ill merely because their feelings are directed toward the same sex. They embrace the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ and explore their newfound sexuality. It is during this stage that the gay or lesbian may start fighting against what society has taught them.

Identity Synthesis – The final stage in which homosexuality becomes a part of who they are rather than the defining factor. Instead of being a gay man or lesbian, they begin to see themselves as parents, employees, leaders, teachers, supervisors, coaches, and volunteers who just happen to be gay. In the final stage, they are able to accept themselves more wholly rather than seeing their sexuality as separate from the rest of who they are.

What does GLBTQ stand for?

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Transsexual, Queer and/or Questioning.

Gay: this term often refers to men who are romantically attracted to other men, although women can be also described as “gay” without causing insult or offense. More generally, the word “gay” distinguishes individuals who experience same-sex attraction as a part of their identity.

Lesbian: the word “lesbian” describes women who are romantically attracted to other women.

Bisexual: this term distinguishes individuals who are romantically attracted to both men and women

Transgender: an inclusive, catchall term that describes any individual who resists, challenges, or rejects traditional gender roles or a normative gender expression. Some transgendered persons feel that they were born into the wrong body, as if their biological sex doesn’t fit their gender identity. Others find the binary distinctions between man/woman or masculine/feminine reductive, limiting, and oppressive. Individuals must self-identify as “transgender” in order for the term to be appropriately used to describe them

Queer: historically, the word “queer” has been used as a derogatory term, a word that demeaned and disrespected the GLBTQ community. More recently, GLBTQ academics and activists have sought to reclaim the word and “reoccupy” its meaning, turning it into a vehicle of pride, resistance, and coalition-building. So phrases like “queer studies,” “queer community,” and “queer theory” are common parlance. But “queer” hasn’t entirely lost its derogatory power, so it should be used with care and sensitivity.

Questioning: individuals in the process of questioning their sexual identity.

Therapy & Counseling Issues

Psychotherapists strive to be knowledgeable about and respect the importance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships. They acknowledge the particular life issues or challenges experienced by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) as well as other members of racial and ethnic minorities that are related to multiple and often conflicting cultural norms, values, and beliefs.

Since synthesizing a sexual identity could mean profound personal and social consequences, the decision to do so should be preceded by an awareness of what the familial, vocational, interpersonal, educational, emotional, economic, and/or legal consequences are likely to be.

Aside from issues arising from sexual identity and sexual orientation, treatment for homosexual clients should be no different than any other client. In terms of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, relationship concerns, stress, and sexual issues, homosexual clients present at about the same rate as their counterparts and treatment should not be any different.

spiral2grow offers a safe, discrete, systemic and holistic healing center that help GLBT handles their issues effectively, so they can explore and eventually live more comfortably with their choices that is consistent with their personal sexuality, values and beliefs. spiral2grow works with GLBTQ individuals and their loved ones with the many diverse challenges that face them. Some of these issues include:

  • The coming out process
  • Trust and jealousy issues in relationships
  • Depression, anxiety, anger, and loneliness
  • Difficulty in forming or sustaining intimate relationships
  • Addiction and uncontrolled behavior (drinking, drugs, sex etc.)
  • Individuals living with HIV/AIDS, or other life threatening illnesses
  • People whose partners have HIV/AIDS, or other life threatening illnesses
  • gay/lesbians widowers, who are dealing with the death of their partner
  • Feeling disconnected, passionless, stopped having sex, lack of intimacy
  • Power struggles – constant conflict,  fighting, and tension
  • Sexual identity and/or sexual orientation confusion
  • Infidelity and/or affair

Sexual Identity related to Sexual Orientation

In this usage, sexual identity describes how persons identify their own sexuality. This may or may not relate to their actual sexual orientation. Sexual identity is more closely related to sexual behavior than sexual orientation is. The development of self-identification as homosexual or gay is a psychological and socially complex state, something which, in this society, is achieved only over time, often with considerable personal struggle and self-doubt, not to mention social discomfort.

Here are some examples of people with a different sexual orientation than sexual identity:

  • A married man occasionally wants to have sex with men. He may or may not act out those wishes. By inclination, that would make him bisexual. Nevertheless, he may still identify as a straight man.
  • A woman in a lesbian relationship wants to have sex with men. She may act out those wishes, or she may not, maybe based on the prejudices against bisexual people in her community. By inclination, she is bisexual. Nevertheless, she may still identify as a lesbian woman.
  • An otherwise conservative exclusively homosexual man has objections against what he considers “gay identity politics”. He considers himself homosexual, but does not identify as gay.
  • Two asexual people marry. They never have sex, nor want it, but still want the relationship. They may identify as asexual, or they may identify as straight.
  • An ex-gay woman is in an exclusive relationship with a man. Although she still has fantasies and thoughts about being with a woman, she now identifies as heterosexual.
  • A transman considers his relationship to a cis-man as technically heterosexual, but still both identify as gay.
  • A post-operative transwoman and a straight male partner may consider their relationship as being heterosexual despite both being considered as homosexual by others, including those in the homosexual community.
  • People may identify as pansexual, queer or similar, despite having a sexual orientation that could just as well be described with straight, gay or lesbian, or hetero- or homo- or bisexual.

Sexual identity, therefore, is not simply synonymous with sexual orientation or sexual preferences, but describes how social or political influences make people identify (or not) with those.

Gay, Lesbian and LGBTQ Issues:

Adoption/Surrogacy, Aging, Anxiety, Chemical Dependence, Depression, Employment Discrimination, Family of Origin Conflicts, Sexual Dysfunction, Grief/Multiple Loss, Hate Crime Victim, Homosexual Married to Heterosexual, HIV/AIDS, HIV Negative/HIV Positive Couple, Internalized Homophobia, Intimate Relationship Conflicts, Legal Conflicts, Parenting Conflicts, Religious Conflicts, Safer Sex, Separation, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Acting Out, Sexual Identity Confusion, Sexual Orientation Confusion.

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