If you make up half of an LGBTQ+ couple, you might be asking yourself this very question. After all, not all LGBTQ+ couples argue over LGBTQ+ issues. LGBTQ couples argue about money, sex, extended family, or household chores—and plenty of other topics that have nothing to do with sexual preferences or gender expression. So why make the distinction?
Although the challenges that LGBTQ+ couples encounter on the basis of their identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning can be unique, our specialty pages on Couples, Relationship, and Marriage Counseling may also address your concerns.
Coming out as LGBTQ+ to yourself (self-acceptance) and initiating “the talk” with family or friends; resolving internalized homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia (internalized LGBTQ+ phobia: when a member of the LGBTQ+ community absorbs stereotypic or prejudicial beliefs about LGBTQ+ populations from anti-queer or anti-trans cultural, religious, or media sources); Revealing your same-sex attraction or gender identity to a heterosexual or cis-gender romantic partner; dating a closeted or semi-out partner when you yourself are fully open about your sexuality or gender expression
Navigating the exhilarating—and often nerve-wracking—world of LGBTQ+ relationships (first loves, sexual experiences, and heartaches; online dating and LGBTQ+ bars; taking the commitment plunge, learning how to cohabitate, or popping the question); Ironing out the rules and limitations of an open or polyamorous relationship; Conquering jealousy, when your girlfriend or boyfriend is besties with their exes
Mastering the additional challenges of an interracial or “intergaycial” relationship (…Are they staring at us because we’re gay/trans? Or because we’re inter-ethnic?); Understanding and accepting your partner’s strange worldviews (conservative or liberal political leanings; spiritual differences; or conflicting cultural ideals)
Resolving medical and psychological causes related to orgasmic dysfunction, painful penetration, performance anxiety, or sexual arousal disorders; Connecting with qualified and compassionate LGBTQ-competent healthcare providers to receive routine screenings for HIV, HPV, and reproductive cancers; Embarking upon a sexual relationship with a partner who is diagnosed with HIV or coping with your HIV+ status as a couple; Exploring the process of medical transition or readapting to sex after the transition process is complete; Healing from the trauma of same-sex or opposite-sex sexual assault and rape
Disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity to your family and bracing yourself for the reactions (from unconditional approval… to denial, sorrow, anger, or rejection); Integrating your partner into family affairs (including those awkward Easter dinners with grandma…); Relieving the suffocating tension when your family members dislike or disagree with your partner
Overcoming anti-LGBTQ+ obstacles and biases—including, discriminatory adoption policies, hiring practices, or rental procedures & healthcare, legal or socioeconomic barriers—as a united front; Recovering from homophobic or transphobic slurs, relentless bullying, harassment, or anti-LGBTQ+ violence
Tying the knot and confronting familial disapproval or resolving spiritual ambiguities; Planning the perfect wedding and carving out time to decompress from hiring caterers, choosing flowers, and deescalating your beloved bride- or groomzilla; Finding a way to cope with waking up every morning and wondering… Are my marriage rights still “legal” today?
Negotiating the specifics of childbirth or adoption; Ironing out parenting roles and discipline strategies to dodge the bullet of future confrontations; Equipping your children for interpersonal success and formulating a plan to counteract anti-LGBTQ+ bullying at school; Raising awesome adults through all facets of childhood (from the terrible twos to the teenage years, college, and beyond!)
When stuck relationship issues become insurmountable, a qualified couples therapist can bring a fresh perspective and new solutions to old problems. LGBTQ relationship issues often require specialized care from a qualified and compassionate therapist who is sensitive to the complexities of LGBTQ+ identity and the cultural constructs in which your experience is defined.