COVID-19 UPDATE: VIRTUAL “TELEHEALTH” APPOINTMENTS:
Joseph Contorer MFT and CounselingLA.com continue to offer support during The Covid-19 Pandemic.
In response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, therapy sessions are provided virtually.
"TeleHealth" options include FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and telephonic appointments.
Hope to hear from you soon!
(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender and questioning)
Helpful Definitions for LGBTQ
Related Terms: LGBTQ HELPFUL BRIEF DEFINITIONS:
“Is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others." Bullying is a term that describes a nasty destructive, hurtful action or set of actions aimed at hurting someone else. Bullying can occur in various capacities for different reasons and causes.
Gay children/LGBTQ children and adults are particularly susceptible to bullying. As children, the insensitive, ignorant little peers perceive LGBTQ to be different, which they are sometimes; therefore LGBTQ children are an easy target to be potentially relentlessly harassed and attacked. Fortunately, in recent years the extent of bullying (mainly in schools or similar settings) has received much more public attention and awareness. However, a higher likelihood of bullying, shaming and harassing LGBTQ children and also adults, may always be present. Some who insensitive, ignorant and just don't know any better or really care might presume that bullying and "school yard taunting" is just something that always happens and is part of growing up.
Without significant awareness and premeditated, executed interventions and plans, bullying violations are a likely despicable encounter that LGBTQ children, youth, teens and adults can potentially be confronted with at some point or many points in their childhood. Sadly even with the elevated awareness and intervention, and regardless of more awareness and prevention efforts, collective levels of bullying and shaming towards LGBTQ youth remains a chronic problem. Suicide risks are much higher for LGBTQ youth and adults too. Therefore, identifying bullying, and victims of bullying, which can be a precursor to LGTBQ youth attempting and succeeding at taking their own lives, must be taken very seriously and intervened upon as much as possible.
Bullying is most commonly associated with children being abusive to other children usually in school or educational settings. Bullying might consists of “getting picked-on,” being threatened, abused, harassed, shamed, physically beat-up, assaulted, subjugated and humiliated. Bullying is an abuse that can be verbal, psychological or often times physical. Bullying is an abuse that is not just committed by children; it is also a “style” of communicating and or controlling other people by certain adults. We see bullying on all levels, such as within the family/family systems and family dynamics and also in the workplace. Bullying is particularly relevant in politics or similar situations, like in the workplace at times. It is fairly well documented that the typical prototype of a (childhood) bully is one of a person who is insecure, self-loathing, feels powerless and is projecting their inadequacies on to other victims.
Choice describes a voluntary action, implementation or exercise of behavior or decision where there is an option to have a/the selection. We have an option or choice to choose how we behave in many regards. We do not have an option to choose our innate orientation or sexual orientation.
We do have some choice to decide how much or whether to be open and declarative about our sexual orientation (I.e. coming out as LGBTQ etc.) Alternatively, we have a choice whether to be very "discreet," private or perhaps sometimes illusive about our sexual orientation, in an attempt to keep it under wraps for personal reasons.
Everyone has a choice to decide to become properly informed vs. remain ignorant about sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation and how these entities work, regardless of varied comfort levels or personal self-identity or officially identified or declared sexual orientation.
Is a type of cognitive ability that implies that a person possesses or can develop (improve) a sense and capacity to think about things in a factual, objective analytical capacity.
Critical Thinking is an important (and critical) concept as it pertains to understanding LGBTQ people and communities; it is a polar opposite to "magical thinking," which can play a contradictory toxic effect with fundamentalist religions and with alcoholic thinking and behaving. In sharp contrast, with critical thinking, we are invited to explore a logical, more common-sense understanding of matters like sexual orientation and gender identity.
So, for example, the idea of homosexuality or LGBTQ communities makes some people feel very uncomfortable. When less aware folks have to face the facts that LGBTQ is an innate biologically occurring entity, it may throw them out of their comfort zone. Having to stop and accept factual reality, especially if it is directly impacting, (for example if they are dealing with a gay child/sibling/relative or friend,etc,) may pose as a challenging threat or a deviation from a more insulated entitled arrogant world. Critical thinking deficits can impact gay people who are in the closet and are fighting hard to rationalize their own heterosexual hetero-sexist fantasy and denial of their true selves (in order to remain closeted.)
The idea of critical thinking could invite yourself to answer this question very carefully:
"Does this make sense to you?" Stop and be smart and think it through. Why does it make sense or not? What is your opinion? What do you really think and believe and why? Not what the bible says. Not what someone at your school said. Not what a less informed parent may have said; and not even what your favorite sensationalizing news source boasted about. Just you and your empowering fortress of common sense.
One online definition:
"Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposed assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command to their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism."
Gender refers to an anatomical set of characteristics that we are born with and are therefore typically "assigned" at birth. These are physical and sexual characteristics that are generally initially associated only with one particular gender, either male or female. Whether it is in childhood or later in to adulthood, an individual may eventually determine and declare that they are not the gender that they were "assigned" at birth. Gender is about how we identify ourselves as a male, female or in some cases transsexual. If a person identifies as transsexual or transgender, the outer physical anatomy does not match their self-reported internal feelings, emotions, temperament and thought.
The concept of gender has become much more involved in recent years, not because there are suddenly more trans people, but because there is more knowledge, awareness and slowly more tolerance, about what gender identity consists of. If someone was born a certain anatomical/biological sex, but identifies as transgender, they find that they don't fall in to the previously standardized male or female descriptor. Hence, the term "trans" is also relative to refer to an abbreviated description of being transgender.
Although the gender of a newborn baby is based primarily from an assessment of the presence of male or female genitalia, in time we may come to learn from this individual's self-report that the previously assigned gender may not be accurate or fitting.
Homophobia is a term used to describe literally a fear of homosexuality. In present times this term is used to describe an negative discriminatory effect that is imposed upon gay people as well as LGBTQ persons (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Questioning.) More specifically, the term "transphobia" refers to a "fear" or discrimination towards and about transgendered people.
A person who identifies with same-sex sexual orientation; they are physically, romantically and or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Previous estimates have suggested that there is about 10% of the general population that would conceivably identify as homosexual, also referred to as “gay.” Females who identify as gay may (also) refer to themselves as a “Lesbian.”
In short, when LGBTQ people have their own level of fear of their LGBTQ issues. This often times includes a profound sense of shame and self-hatred based on internalized messages they have been repeatedly exposed to from many sources during their life experiences.
Is a self-induced protective comfortable way of thinking that blocks out less pleasant thoughts, including more reality-based thinking. RELIGIONS fall in to this place. Children who are abused sometimes go in to a fantasy land….. etc..
Is best defined as collective bullying. Mobbing is an interesting type of bullying that has become particularly relative today thanks to social media/internet/technology. An example of mobbing is where bullying becomes magnified to a larger group-level. For example, considering politics and the media and propaganda, a group of people can be persuaded to join in to form a large scale bullying or ganging up on someone or something else. Mobbing has become a devious, yet effective entity in creating the waves of hatred against various political leaders and movements; it also serves to perpetuate a generalized movement of genocidal proportions (like the anti-Semitism during WWII/The Holocaust.) For example, mobbing is a way to stir up emotions; particularly contempt and hatred or one powerful point of view based on the fact that it is a component of sensationalism. Mobbing is a toxic extreme exaggerated variation of a trend or wave that "catches on."
So, hypothetically, when asked: Why do you hate__________? Part of the response will be based on hopped-up, emotionally charged hot air that is a by-product of the effects of mobbing for or against one point of view or one person/group of persons. It is really part of the "group psychology." It's more comfortable and for the sicker devious folks, it's more fun to be in the group. A stupid humorous example: In 1980, I remember a stupidly popular movement during junior high school, where they determined that "Disco Sucks." Guess what? that idiotic trend caught on for the time being. Like I said; Junior high!
Sexual Activity refers to the various specific physical and sexual ways and sexual acts and actions that we engage in with other consenting adults.
Sometimes, there is confusion by self-proclaimed anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ people because they insist they are disgusted or "grossed-out" by their assumptions about what they associate with and how they perceive sexual orientations (LGBTQ) that are different from.
Sexual activity is quite different from sexual orientation.
Another handy go-to place for ignorant commentary is the famous quip: "Sexuality is nobody's business." Comments like these are a convenient way to minimize the identities of LGBTQ people; however, but the basis for this is caught up in presumptions of what sexual activity and sexual acts might conceivably occur with gay people. It would be more ideal as a first step towards evolving and becoming more tolerant of LGBTQ for there to be a separation in thoughts about sexual acts vs. thinking about this person or all gay people in terms of how you think they might express themselves sexually. This is a person who happens to have been born gay or LGBTQ.
Not identifying as having only one specific, concrete sexual orientation (so for some, this means they do not identify themselves as heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual or a-sexual; it’s as though they prefer to not put any specific limiting “label” on their sexual orientation/sexual identity.
An innate biologically based reference to the way we are born and how we naturally orient /define ourselves to the world around us. One major component of how we orient ourselves includes who we are attracted to and in what capacity; in this case sexual orientation pertains to is who we are emotionally, sexually/physically drawn to particularly with regard to sheer sexual or romantic enticement.
Sexual orientation is not an option that is chosen, orientation is present at birth and develops in response to a biologically based drive and cannot be genuinely changed or altered. As absurd and deemed contraindicated and inappropriate by the American Psychiatric Association, some people choose to act as if sexual orientation/orientation therefore, is a changeable entity. Other reportedly heterosexual people insist that those who identify as LGBTQ have an option to change if they want to. Gender identity is generally assessed at birth by others who observe traditional male or female physical/sexual characteristics. However, gender identity is determined by the individual as they progress through the various stages of life development. A lesser number of people will identify as transgender vs. being male or female. Make sure you are clear that sexual orientation is a separate distinction from gender identity, which includes transgenderism.
Sexual preference is a naturally developed process and a function of innate sexual orientation. Previously, this term may have been incorrectly utilized or referenced to describe someone as being gay/ trying to refer to their sexual orientation; In this specific capacity and connotation, it was replaced with the more specific accurate term of "sexual orientation."
The reason the terms sexual preference and sexual orientation are not used interchangeably is because preference implies that there is a choice involved.
There is a choice involved for various sexual orientations to prefer certain sexual expressions, outlets and attractions. If there is a declared same sex orientation, then that person would likely opt to have a sexual preference of the same sex (homosexual) and a bisexual individual might prefer having relations with both sexes.
Nobody chooses to be gay/LGBTQ, however they may choose how to express their per-existing, naturally occurring gayness or straightness / LGBTQ etc.
“A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” LGBTQ young children and adults are very likely to experience a sense of shame because they are exposed to overt and covert negative interpretations and pressures from their environment about LGBTQ people in general or specific attacks on or to them.
A small percentage of individuals will come to find out that they feel incongruent with the previously identified gender at birth. Thus, transgender individuals do not feel like the gender that was assigned to them by someone else/general society, based on their more obvious physical or sexual external body parts, predominantly external genitalia and secondary sex characteristics.
“Recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” So, for LGBTQ children/young adults growing up, they may not have comparable opportunities to be validated for who they are- who their true self is.
“One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent. One that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions. One that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.”
Per Joseph: (with regard to LGBTQ Community etc.)
LGBTQ who during earlier parts of their lives were subjected precarious subjugating devaluing experiences.
“A person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.”
One who chooses to not remain victim, even if he, she or they has/have been subjected to situations that were previously victimizing.
Special Considerations/Therapy Sensitivities for LGBTQ clients
LGBTQ- INFORMATION FOR AND ABOUT THE GAY COMMUNITY
(Gay and bisexual Men, Women, Transgender or “Questioning.”)
LGBTQ people have a harder life thanks to many factors; they frequently have a common battle with overcoming a sense of shame. The majority of complications stem from the effects of an overall experience of being discriminated and collectively criticized by and from a variety of sources and movements; no, this is not to suggest that everybody hates all LGBTQ people. However, the levels of actual and potential negativity, ignorance and toxic vitriol against many LGBTQ people at one time or another, is definitely much higher than the general population / heterosexuals.
Things may have improved considerably for LGBTQ communities over time and particularly with gay-affirming legal and political mandates in recent years (such as marriage equality and other anti-discrimination more protective, affirmative laws and policies.) However many LGBTQ persons will continue to report an extensive history of experiencing the ramifications of a destructive, homophobic/anti-gay/ anti-LGBTQ part of society; this was and is damaging, invalidating and shaming.
The actual or potential pervasive anti-LGBTQ/disrespect and negative bias comes in different forms and capacities. It may be either blatant, overt, less obvious or more insidious, covert implications and pressure to be "normal" and not be gay/LGBTQ. Parents, family, religions, schools/teachers, employers, fluctuating, ongoing legal developments can be very influential in different directions and in flux. Therefore, it is no surprise that LGBTQ persons are highly prone to various forms of depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, addictions and dysfunctional relationships.
In addition to deflecting the negativity, LGBTQ individuals will frequently experience a “Coming-Out” process. Initially, they have to navigate their own personal understanding and process. Later, they will explore disclosing what was previously a much more repressed part of themselves. Coming out and sharing their true selves can be a delicate, humiliating, challenging, yet also empowering process, especially to those closest to them, such as family, friends and peers.
When you have a more difficult life, you likely have more problems and adversity to overcome.
We have the choice to continue to work towards a sense of empowerment through overcoming subjugation and adversity.
THERAPY AND TREATMENT FOR LGBTQ CLIENTS
May incorporate the following aspects of care or insight and various relative portions of the following:
Alcoholism and Addictions within the LGBTQ Community
Some reports over time have suggested that the alcoholism/addiction rate among (particularly) gay men in the LGBTQ Communities is as high as 30%. I would be inclined to say it is at least 30% and likely even higher; probably closer to 40-50%. Again, being exposed to toxic negative reinforcements and a lack of safety from many directions and sources creates extreme stress for LGBTQ individuals. To cope with stress they will self-medicate with substances.
Being a closeted young gay child who is busy pleasing and appeasing everyone else, like manipulating, boundary-violating and demanding, intrusive parents, churches and schools, for example, places the child at much greater risks for mental health issues as well as addictions later on. While we might conclude the majority of LGBTQ children and young adults eventually *choose to come out of the closet, *(as opposed to choosing their sexual orientation or gender identity) some gay men and women or trans men and women choose to stay closeted or repressed in some manner, however nobody chooses their sexual orientation they are born with or their gender they are assigned at birth.
Furthermore, nobody really chooses whether they are addict, alcoholic or have an addiction of some sort. They may make choices as to how to respond to their addictions, such as whether to acknowledge the problem and seek some type of treatment. Basically moving towards some degree of sobriety means elevating their awareness of what addiction is and how they are impacted by their various conflicts to and with substance. So, sometimes as with several other areas, addictions and alcoholism may be bigger problems for LGBTQ people.
Recovering from Anti-LGBTQ Abuse, Bullying and Boundaries:
The term “gay” is an accepted currently politically correct term that is used to describe those people who are homosexual. It is often used to refer to homosexual males, while homosexual women are sometimes specifically referred to as “Lesbians” as well as gay.
A brief explanation is as follows:
Gay/LGBTQ adults of today were once gay children, which is the starting point from which much of complexity begins for gay people/LGBTQ. Conditions have improved to some degree over the years for gay children and youth because there is increased awareness, more tolerance and additional legal and political protection for minorities; this includes LGBTQ people and theoretically, gay children/youth, (who will be gay adults in the future.)
Regardless of these improvements, gay children continue to have and may always be faced with greater challenges than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ children, teens, adults and young adults have/had a higher likelihood for experiencing an unpleasant time at home, school and other similar environments, which is just about everything in a child's world.
Gay children typically become aware of their orientation at different points depending on their physical and cognitive development. Most gay children will exhibit some sort of signs of their differences in various capacities at various stages of their childhood and adolescence. For example, some gay male children are more noticeably gay (more effeminate) and are either less able or less willing to hide. Other gay children are less deliberate in their attempts to try to repress it. Other gay children make attempts in a variety of ways, to reveal their true sexual orientation at a younger age.
Despite society's gradually increasing LGBTQ awareness and tolerance, most all gay children are at risk for feeling that there is a limited sense of emotional and also at times physical "safety." Gay children are left to ask themselves a frightening question: Where am I safe? Parents and family may be potentially unaware (or not wanting to be aware) of what is quietly going on with their child. Parents, families and schools/similar authority figures/leaders may also be ignorant, invalidating or profoundly anti-gay and even making this clear to the child if they suspect there is something gay about their child in other cases.
As the child matures, he or she becomes more clear about their innate feelings of being different; they realize that they feel a sense of same-sex attraction or that they may not feel like their assigned gender at the time of birth, if they are transgender. In the case of gay children, they are developing a slightly different mentality with potentially different interests or drives than that of their heterosexual peers.
A duality is created where the gay child grew up very quickly in some regards and is hyper-aware as they try to deconstruct a massively large issue at a young age. At the same time, they may also feel perplexed and thwarted by an anti-gay sentiment around them; they learn that they have next to no where "to go" with their feelings. These secret feelings and secret processes, plus the potential or actual bullying and negative reinforcements around them in their childhood world create a stifling effect.
There are numerous variables and scenarios that can play out in any child's life/history along the road to adulthood and even more variables to add on to that process with regard to LGBTQ children.
The tragic, yet relentless point here is that LGBTQ/gay children and later adults are inevitably going to have a harder life and have to overcome much more than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ are a vast minority, who will never be fully accepted or fully genuinely, generally treated in the same manner by default, as frequently or as expectedly as the majority of other children, who are not LGBTQ; that is just the way it is. We can and will continue to work on educating and advocating all communities, groups and greater society about the importance of tolerance and being informed in a constructive way about gays and LGBTQ. However, at the end of the day, the reality is that as LGBTQ persons, you/we/they will likely still have to work a bit harder to achieve a happy balance in their lives of self-acceptance and acceptance from others.
We cannot confirm that there will ever be a genuine, widespread, systemic, judgment-free, naturally occurring sense of equality between gay and straight people. Therefore, while an overall general default acceptance from society would be ideal and more helpful to LGBTQ people (and also actually to society in general in my opinion,) regardless, LGBTQ persons' level of self-acceptance can not be contingent upon the external approval and acceptance from the outer world.
Many in the LGBTQ community have experienced extensive confusion in the arena of boundaries. There are numerous reasons why boundaries are a particularly complicated, fragile, critical and relative area to The LGBTQ Community. LGBTQ individuals began their early critical years of their life-stages of development in a state of misperception about the boundaries surrounding their identity. The perplexity that the LGBTQ youth experienced was not predominantly because they are simply inherently, profoundly confused, but rather it was because of an intolerant environment that frequently demonized and dissuaded anything gay/LGBTQ. The traumatic take-away for a child is that they are not okay as they are and they need to re-package themselves for their selfish entitled family/environment that demands and dictates them to conform to some other foreign ideal as opposed to their true gay/LGBTQ selves.
Progressing in to LGBTQ adulthood poses additional challenges to be clear on how boundaries defined at this point, vs. historically when they were easily challenged and re-directed by someone else. As adults, LGBTQ individuals have the exhilarating yet daunting task of establishing their own boundaries now that they basically have the option to do so. None the less, there is often misconception about healthy boundaries and they sometimes experience a great deal of chaos in this area while they earnestly “figure it out.” Figuring it out usually means evolving and developing a clear deeper definition and understanding of what self-respect is for a person who happens to be LGBTQ. Along with self-respect may come a different set of boundary development compared to previous times where there were either no boundaries or very dysfunctional blurry ones at the best.
Knowing who is gay or straight / (LGBTQ etc,) or who or what is safe or interested in me- or if it will be a “safe” situation when you walk in to a room, for example, are all examples of how boundary confusion among the LGBTQ community can be challenging. Not being as experienced in relationships or having the opportunity for historically healthy relationships poses additional challenges. For example, some LGBTQ clients come to therapy very frustrated with their relationship pursuits or conflicts/lack of success. They may meet someone and then instantaneously decide they love that person, assuming that this is how a normal relationship works. They may mix up loving/romantic relationships with more platonic/friendship-based relationships. The same-sex nature of gay relationships can be confusing with regard to clarity about just how intimate the friendship is, or what kind of intimacy the relationship consists of. Comparatively, in heterosexual relationships, it is much less frequent to have a platonic friendship with the opposite sex, while the similar variation among homosexual relationships would be about having a same sex- person that could just as readily be a friend, a date, a romantic/sexual lover or a "No Strings Attached" (NSA) sex-date. Boundaries for LGBTQ are only similar to the extent that there should ideally be some degree of boundaries in place but other than that there are differing dynamics to learn and be aware of for gay people compared to the heterosexual world.
Other boundary issues to resolve pertain to . There is likely to be some confusion surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity itself. Arrested developmental histories inhibited addressing these issues much earlier in life; furthermore, there was fear and avoidance of dealing with sexuality, especially given the widely reported feelings of shame that are a consequence from deviating from the “normalness” that is associate with being heterosexual or non-trans-gender. For some who identify as bisexual or think they may have equal or partial interest in both sexes, there are additional boundary challenges to clarity. For transgender men and women they have immense, challenging boundaries to sort through. Even when all of the boundaries have been “sorted through,” then LGBTQ people have to deal with the other people/the external, reacting to our boundaries. For example, how will _____ react to being informed that I am L, G, B, T or Q or ?? Whatever might be non-traditional to them? How will I tolerate their reaction to these boundaries? How much should be or needs to be disclosed in the first place? How will the decisions be made about what to share and what not to share and what will be tolerated or not? How superficial a relationship am I willing to accept (i.e. unconditional or conditional acceptance from friends, family etc.) These are just some of the examples of the parameters of boundaries that LGBTQ are faced with.
**(See also Section***** on Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries…) <insert link here to portion of the drop down from the PAGE: Chemical Dependency…>
Therapy is particularly relevant for LGBTQ clients; it can assist them with an increased sense of self. Additionally, therapy can help LGBTQ clients rebuild and reclaim what has likely been broken and or blocked by ignorant hetero-majority society, starting with family of origins and by other mean spiteful or insensitive gays in the LGBTQ community.
Therapy will pay special attention to the idea of self-empowerment, thus minimizing a need for external approval, increasing self-awareness and finding a balance between self-attention and accommodating others. Experiencing a sense of repression and or compartmentalization of the true self is a common report of many LGTBQ clients; repressive efforts such as these were the ways in which LGBTQ people survived/(survive). After a long history of accommodation of others (i.e. worrying about whether your homosexuality, for example, might offend someone else,) gay clients are likely to have emotional and psychological injuries and a compromised sense of self-worth. Therapy will attempt to resolve these internal conflicts in a pro-active, safe and supportive manner.
When we talk about the concept of abuse, it encompasses additional areas beyond classic family/childhood sexual, physical, verbal or psychological abuse or incestuous family systems. For LGBTQ clients, not only is there a higher likelihood of these types of abuse, but there are also other routinely experienced variations of abuse that LGBTQ persons are likely to have experienced. Homophobia and overtly anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in life, communities, families, and schools for sure, are very common reports of LGBTQ clients. LGBTQ children are regularly abused and bullied just because of who they are. For many there is intimidation and psychological abuses from parents, family, religious organizations, school/peers/teachers and other community leaders/politicians who have major issues, ignorance, intolerance and hatred towards and about LGBTQ people.
Therapy works to rebuild confidence and reclaim your true self, despite these likely abusive experiences of invalidation, shame, intimidation and intolerance from many potential sources; most, unfortunately initiated right in their own back yards with foolish, ignorant parents and social environments that eroded the lives LGBTQ children and instead, pave the way for a long road of challenges and hurdles ahead. With therapy, it is possible to overcome and empower yourself to an improved life as an adult with knowledge, tools, resources and clearer understanding about what went on, what goes on and maybe why.
While the term “abuse” can refer to varying experiences, for LGBTQ individuals, abuse also frequently occurs when boundaries are violated and LGBTQ children and adults are deliberately made to feel subjugated, dehumanized, shamed and hurt in many ways. Examples of this fairly common and abuse is bullying and humiliation/intimidation at school and other comparable situations. However there is certainly a high level of sexual and physical abuse the LGBTQ clients may also be be more readily exposed to. So being physically and verbally assaulted is just one form of abuse for some LGBTQ children, young adults and adults.
Because LGBTQ children may be perceived differently than the default heterosexual forced “norm” of expectations, they are more vulnerable and are more easily, readily targeted by perpetrators. Sometimes LGBTQ children are more precocious and or curious in the first place. Other times, there is a perceived weakness and impressionability because of the differentness of their sexual or gender identity issues. The classic example is the religious leader (i.e. Priest J, teacher, parent, coach, baby sitter or other family member or “family friend” who seizes the opportunity to suck the LGBTQ child dry and grossly violate the child’s boundaries (because the perpetrators are all fucked up with their own unresolved dysfunctions.)
Similar to any abuse survivor, the therapeutic intervention often occurs much later in life after the abuse was long committed. Therapy aims to re-establish the personal power and also extinguish the sense of shame and victimization that comes with having innocence corrupted and stolen at impressionable ages and stages. The goal is that overcoming the abuse and neglect histories will allow for more healthy normal relationships in adulthood where there is trust respect and unconditional acceptance and of course, hopefully clearer boundaries!
Coming Out or Not? Pros and Cons of Staying “In the Closet.”
Closet Homosexuality-Some people identify as homosexual men or women (AKA "Lesbian," or "Gay." Others identify as bisexual, transgender or questioning (figuring it out.) The term or reference of being in the closet or "closeted," means that they have kept these various identities, genders and orientations or other similar variations of their sexuality very private, sometimes secretive and often times because of deliberate attempts to keep it hidden.
Sexual orientation is not a choice, however disclosing information about sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice. It is also a choice for anyone who wants to become properly informed and tolerant about LGBTQ.
The boundary to be mindful about is that it is up to the LGBTQ person to decide how much of their private information and to whom it will be shared with. This is a delicate and individually determined choice. Why do some people choose to remain closeted? Pro’s and con’s of staying in the closet vs. coming out:
- It's easier and less risky in some regards to stay closeted. May actually be a better decision for some people?
- Preserve safety from being judged by others; reduce any unknown external negative impressions of LGBTQ people.
- Create protection from potential sources of harm by those who dislike or threaten LGTBQ Job security/financial security.
- Contain and pacify family pressures and conditional acceptance such as family wealth protection.
- Protecting inheritance from intolerant, rigid, threatening, controlling families if applicable.
- Ego/false sense of supremacy and pseudo-confidence can be maintained (false sense of being aligned with heterosexism.)
- Power compared to feeling or being less powerful if sexuality was openly disclosed- even though it comes at a cost of accommodating the external environment.
- Inauthentic: Live a daily lie and assume the pressures of that lie.
- Potentially hurting and damaging others (i.e. significant other/children/family) when the lie eventually blows up. You can potentially be very self-destructive.
- De-valuation of self-worth, self-respect from living the lie and a phony life
- Encountering stress and additional drama and pressures of scrambling to hide true identity (i.e. needing to hook up online/on the side and have sneaky gay liaisons; need to maintain a "beard" of a female mate or dates.)
- Contribute to a collective level of regression, stagnation or damage to LGBTQ Community. Risk perpetuating the notion that being LGBTQ is wrong, negative, sinful, bad, disgusting etc.
- Self-respect and being true to self; benefits of self-definition rather than caving to external pressures and distorted negative messages from others about how you should be or who you should be even if you’re completely not that person and never will be.
- Healthier state of being; hopeful, potential benefits of conditional self-acceptance at a fundamental level of who you are vs. repressing and deceit of living a lie and the neurotic psychological symptoms that ensue.
- Can have more real authentic relationships and more true intimacy with friends, family and significant others.
- Positive, collective impact on LGBTQ Communities and the positive message that is sent about affirming genuine authenticity and openness of who you are.
- Inevitable (hopeful) reduction of mental and physical disorders that would occur as a consequence of forced self-repression of a huge part of your persona and identity.
- Self-protection and preservation/nurturing internal drives of self-loathing/homophobia
- Fear and benefits of keeping fear levels at bay.
- Money and financial ramifications such as career or family financial support/inheritance.
- Fear of loss of friends, family and support system.
- Ego/need to feel safe and or superior vs. feeling weaker or deviant and at risk.
Gay Male Community (GMC) stringent standards,
Masculinity Obsession and pursuit of the perfect M-Score™
Because of many years of conditioning and societal pressures The GMC within The LGBTQ has developed what I refer to as “The Pursuit of The Perfect M-Score.” They do this either as it pertains to themselves personally, or as it relates to their pursuit of other men that they relate to or with.
*GMC and The M-Score Pursuit of Perfection™ THE SEVEN M’S OF IDEALIZED GAY MALE PERFECTION:
*Look for my book that explores constructive criticism and analysis about dysfunction in the gay male community in 2019:
While there may be different interpretations of what The M-Score valuation is comprised of, the general flaw of the M-Score Pursuit by gay men, is that there is an over-emphasis on superficial, idealistic values and traits. The need for perfection and strict adherence to these expectations is what makes the M-Score pursuit a dysfunctional process with perpetually diminishing returns. The end result of the pursuit of perfection will create unfulfilling, disappointing, lonely self-defeating results, with the grand finale for too many gay men being a state of being alone and blocked.
You are responsible for un-blocking yourself and your life.
Misunderstanding and overvaluation of the concept and implications of masculinity: self-loathing and internalized homophobia can erode authenticity leading to the primary ultimate m-score overall cherished trait of being perceived as heterosexual.
Gay men tend to have an overwhelming drive for anything masculine-based or perceived to be associated with masculinity; this "M" of masculinity, tends to be the biggest component that sanctifies the full ramifications of M-Score Pursuit of Perfection.™ The collective obsessive prioritizing of traditional masculine traits within The GMC is likely based on the notion that there is a common level of deeply internalized homophobia and self-loathing present among most gay men at some or many points/stages during their lifespan.
The insecurity and persistent self-loathing begins in childhood, teen and early adulthood years through the primary “coming-out stages." The identity disturbance or crisis of sense of self/ and self-confidence can and often does persist way beyond earlier younger stages of development.
The manifestation and ramifications of The Pursuit of The Perfect M-Score™ may be present for longer time periods and can persist for many years or until there is some inner-work completed. The evolving may include personal growth achieved in effort to reduce, contain or eliminate the tendency towards self-loathing and internalized homophobia and flipping it around in to a demanding expectation of perfection. The saddest part is that The M-Score™ phenomenon is that it is actually a delayed response to a history of feeling a need to accommodate various portions/people of the external environment, such as family members, school/work environments, religions and general mainstream society; this catering is or was done in an effort o nurture others' ignorance and intolerance of LGBTQ concepts, people and lifestyles.
The theoretical challenge herein facing many in The GMC is mainly about their capacity and ability to have the awareness of what is really going on: why this dynamic happened or continues to occur and potentially what to do about it, such as personal behavioral change and a shift in attitudes and expectations.
Some gay men will need learn how to to re-direct their priorities away from the seven M-Score™ variables. They will instead cultivate a greater insight about what is conducive to a healthier, natural sense of self. Thus, they would begin to realize how prioritizing how non-gay a gay man appears or how well endowed or buffed or above average they are will undermine the quality functional relationships and more genuine self-acceptance.
Generally, when gay male clients seek therapy, sometimes unbeknownst to them, even, they are already directly or indirectly dealing with aspects and consequences of their own personal “Pursuit of a Perfect M-Score,” and or they may also not be fully aware about how they are impacted by the strong presence of these shallow values and off-shoots of homophobia and heterosexist values. The consequence is that there is maladaptive self-acceptance and lacking self-care. Some symptoms that bring gay men or many clients in general to therapy are depression and mood disorders, anxiety, relationship/interpersonal problems, family conflict, self-esteem issues, addictions and sick unhealthy relationships.
Psychotherapy will aim to increase insight and awareness about the overt and covert dynamics of The GMC, and invite clients to re-think and re-frame the way they see themselves and others, particularly within The GMC. For example, in therapy, clients would be encouraged to de-emphasize the whole concept of catering to external environments for self-definition and approval. Historically, gay men have perfected the art of accommodation of everyone else (external environments;) later on there is development of an almost default backlash of narcissistic entitlement after making sure their parents, friends, family, churches, school and work environments were more comfortable by presenting a self that is what you think they would expect (being closeted to some degree or completely repressed.) Assuaging everyone else by hiding one’s gayness, comes at the expense of re-formatting the authentic self to be something they mistakenly learned and thought or think is/was necessary to be accepted and approved by someone and something else.
Formulating the correlation:
Gay men experience a sense of “blockage” to being their true selves, because of various levels of external environments that have been overtly and covertly exceptionally intolerant. Consequently, development of a frequently re-altered non-genuine self is mistakenly desired and portrayed for the various layers in an effort to commandeer approval and ease their discomfort of the (non-gay people) in and of the various layers of external environments.
HOW AND WHY GAY MEN BLOCK OTHERS:
The concept and personal experiences of being blocked in various ways is often times familiar to gay men. In an almost jaded capacity, there is a casual dismissive capacity to get rid off what is not wanted or deemed to be undesirable (not meeting the desired list of traits and demands like the various M’s.)
Technology is quite “kind” in that it is convenient to block and screen others, whether it is on social media, like “Facebook” or texting or calling or profile communications on multiple “social networking” (hook-up applications, such as “Grindr” or many others/dating websites etc. parents / family >school/work>> Church/religion>>Local Community>>Outer General Society/Political Legal Systems Influence.
The M-Score™ Variables add up to paradoxical perfection THE OTHER SIX M-SCORE™ VARIABLES FORM THE BASIS FOR THE “M” OF MASCULINITY.
Male penis size and function is an extremely critical function in the impressionable gay-conforming mind of many male homosexuals. Interestingly enough, penis size is also of particular interest and focus among heterosexual men and women. However, gay men are different from straight men, because they are actually seeking another man. Gay men are constantly overly charged and hyper-aware about an idealization of a large penis size. The M-Score Variable "Manhood" might be so highly emphasized because it is very closely associated with masculinity, which is generally the fundamental ideal to be obtained by gay men trying to be less gay and be with a man who "is" or "acts" "less gay." As crass and shallow as it seems, gay men will glorify the superficial connotation of being "hung," because it equates some hypothetical pseudo-masculinity requirement; for some, this equates a superior status of prestigious desirability. There's a superfluous, dramatic mantra about "who has a big dick." Focusing on The M-Score Variables, such as "Manhood," is predictable, juvenile and perpetuates and promotes unnecessary insecurity among gay men.
Next in line of the paradoxical self-love train is the focus on physical perfection and one that includes an exceptional physique, to become or obtain a perfect male body. Having mostly unrealistic, unobtainable, harsh standards on muscular physique and “gym bodies” is another variable that can serve as an armor to compensate for a sense of inadequacy or weakness as a male homosexual. Most people, including gay men are not able to achieve an underwear model’s physique because they are not underwear models and are not supposed to look like one. Once again, this isn’t about an aversion and anti-working out campaign, it is more about the amount of emphasis placed on a need for a perfect physique vs. having a more realistic, less superficial expectation.
If being able to pass for “straight” or having a perfect body or large endowment isn’t enough, being beautiful enough would make it that much more just not good enough. Some gay men report, even during therapy that they “fell in love with a face.” The concept of physical beauty amongst gay men falls in to the gift/curse duality area of knowing how to create and appreciate external aesthetic beauty (hence, the stereotypical gay aptitude hair, make-up, styling, fashion, interior decorating, design etc.)
If the looks aren’t there, then money and materialism could fill in and be added to make it even more seemingly desirable. Thanks to a generally different regiment that gay men frequently stride for or actually have, affords some gay men to access to a more upscale lifestyle. Above average looks, being strong, highly physically attractive and not too queer can be even sweeter with the best electronics, fancy cars, designer clothes, shoes, amazing home and vacations. Also, for some gay men with greater resources, they may opt to “buy” their way in to a taste of those who exhibit a higher M-Score capability. The stereotype related to money and materialism might be referred to by some as having or being a “sugar daddy” with a “trophy boyfriend” or “Kept Boy.” As a general rule, gay men know how to do it up right; they know the latest trends and don’t mind shelling out the bucks and they have the money to purchase it.
Summarizing all of the M-Score components supports the idea that anything average is not desirable or to some is actually revolting. So, by definition, most everyone and everything is just about average. But for gay men the idea of just having average looks, body, penis size, popularity, money, power etc. needs to be better than average. What’s wrong with wanting to be better, the best, going the distance, etc.? Nothing’s wrong with an element like that, but in The GMC it tends to be a bit more than a constructive amount.
Despite the shallow nature of the M-Score variables and the overriding insecurity that tends to plague the gay male community of a fear of being too gay, comes a reveal of hopes for intense intimacy (but really more like a pseudo-intimacy.) Gay men are known to be sexually compulsive and can demonstrate a fairly fluid set of boundaries when it comes to commitment and how relationships dating or with marriage is defined. Despite the 2015 landmark federal decision to implement same sex marriage in The United States, most gay men prefer to open their relationships up at least somewhat, alongside the paradoxical flip side of the commitment issue of what they protest up and down about and wine about how much they want a boyfriend and they want to get married etc.
The M-Score values perpetrate an urgent need to be more masculine, less stereotypically gay, the most attractive, wealthy, popular and elite etc. The glamorization of these ideals is based on distorted thinking that implies that approval from others is a necessity.
Priorities could be shifted to be more about achieving true intimacy vs. self-determination based on external approval and acceptance. Clients are encouraged to intensify their ego-strength by maximizing individuality, independence and more accurate insight in to self and others.
Validation and Shame Is a Dangerous Game for LGBTQ Community
LGBTQ children growing up cannot be property naturally validated in the same capacity as their heterosexual counterparts. They may be growing up in more gay/LGBTQ-friendly or “affirmative” times (i.e. present times 2018 vs. 1998 vs. 1988 or earlier decades even less awareness, tolerance and political/legal protective functions present.) They may have supportive, informed smart pro-active, on the more liberal-sided parents and families. They may live in a more liberal community, city, state or part of town, for example. They may be a trailblazer, cutting edge no-bullshit kind of highly confident kid. And guess what? They will still likely not be able to exclusively have the same default level of organic validation that occurs in a pre-fabricated, pre-established, presumed manner for straight, heterosexual boys and later men.
In simple terms, if you don’t feel properly validated or are significantly in-validated, then you will feel shame instead. Feeling a sense of shame can lead to LGBTQ children being frequently pressured (or “shamed”) in to attempting to hide/repress who they are. The effects of being and feeling shame last many years and are difficult to overcome. However, gay/ LGBTQ-Affirmative therapy will attempt to mitigate these damaging insidious effects by empowering, educating and increasing awareness and insight about facts vs. misconceptions about self, shame and invalidation of LGBTQ-related qualities and naturally occurring events.
LGBTQ children growing up start out as a young gay child and later a gay adolescent and then a young gay adult has a different set of reality to contend with. The young gay child realizes that something is different; he eventually figures it out that he is not exactly like most all of his other boys/peers. He may have encountered other contemporaries and had exposure via and within his own immediate and nuclear family (siblings/cousins or similar,) he may have some religious affiliation but typically the most relevant comparison occurs through the peers the young gay boy must engage with at school/educational institutions.
- Sexual orientation/sexual identity as a part and function of overall identity development is a complex entity in and of itself regardless.
- Being clear about homosexual or other LGBTQ orientation/identities is even more complex and potentially confusing to a not fully developed cognitive or physical system.
- Most all of the reckoning and analysis and clarity about the homosexual orientation, in this case is done and must be done all alone as a young child shamefully tries to figure the whole thing out.
- The young gay child becomes fairly clear that he is WRONG and his feelings and urges to be his natural self are BAD, negative and highly discouraged in some or many ways by his external environments from many different layers- family, community, religion, school, general society, etc. The young gay male child learns that his intentions, thoughts and impulses are already either overtly or covertly highly discouraged. He may actually be told to butch it up and not be such a faggot. Whatever feelings the gay child is naturally developing and developing as that may include a physical, emotional and later romantic desire to be with the same sex are thwarted by his parents or similar intolerant ignorant, misinformed or just unaware adults/adult authority figures.
- The young gay boy learns to compartmentalize his true self and emotions. Because his sexual identity is an extensive HUGE part of his identity, he learns to shut off a significant part of his true authentic self. The young gay boys learn early on that they have to present themselves as something they are not. TOTALLY CRAZY and extremely damaging impact on a normal course of development. This doesn’t even take in to account any number of fucked up dysfunctional situational factors that may be present anyway (broken homes, divorce, miserable marriages, blended families, abuse, neglect, alcoholism/alcoholic families, poverty etc.) The young gay boy perfects the art of accommodating his external environments as opposed to being himself and being able to just literally be himself without any contrived re-direction. (For example, short of learning basic training like manners or having controlling parents or other weird boundaries that any child could conceivably encounter, the gay child had a huge additional burden of additional layers of identity confusion and many unhealthy emotional habits and blurry boundaries that manifest themselves as a result of not having a default pre-arranged course to follow like that of their heterosexual counterparts.)
The gay child learns that he will be validated for something and someone that he is NOT. That type of perversion of the process of a normal basic level of affirmativism during childhood is profoundly destructive and causes sometimes lifelong damage, that can be very resistant to recovery later on in life.
The More Desirable I-Factors™ THE I-FACTOR™ IS A BETTER BET THAN M-SCORE VARIABLES OF PSEUDO-PERFECTION
THE 7 “I’s” of The I-Factor:
This is a charming list of what we might think about when getting caught up in the M-Score Obsessive Blinding Pursuit for Perfection. Therapy can offer a forum for discussion on how these very different set of characteristics and values can positively deflect and off-set the tendency to gravitate towards a normal “attracting” pull within the Gay Male Community (GMC) of the LGBTQ.
Just reading this list of the 7-I’s of the I-Factor, how would they or could they apply to you in your life personally and also externally (i.e. you could work on enhancing your awareness or connection to these goals, values and characteristics, rather than the more typical gay mainstream shallow values of the M-Score, regardless of what others are doing.) Also, if you are a gay man who already feels you are evolved and have moved past the M-Score Pursuit, then staying closer to these I-Factor Variables can be a useful tool to manage dealing with those gay men who just can’t seem to effectively manage their tendency to be consumed with the M-Score Pursuit of Perfection.™