Is Gay Counseling A Thing & Is It Right For Me?
Being a gay man isn’t easy. Some of us grapple with our sexuality or struggle to burst free from the closet. For others of us, the coming out process is easy – but it’s what follows that’s difficult: the sting of family rejection, hostile social and political climes, employers who obstruct your advancement, or wading into the world of same-sex dating… Yeah, that last topic is a world unto itself!
Even for those of us who are incredibly proud to be gay, the backdrop of homophobic or gay-stigmatizing messages (from the media and from strangers… even from family members or close friends!) can easily ruin an otherwise awesome day. Although we can’t put you in a bubble, we can promise you this: at Lifeologie, you’ll never encounter those messages from your therapist. We believe in the power of gay-affirmative therapy for issues pertaining to being gay and for those “stuck” problems that are completely unrelated to your sexual orientation.
Listed below are seven popular topics for counseling that may be of particular interest to gay male therapy seekers:
Seven Counseling & Therapy Topics for Gay Men
- Coming Out: Resolving confusion and obtaining clarity regarding your same-sex attraction; coming out as gay to yourself (self-acceptance), and disclosing your sexual orientation to family members, your social network, or your coworkers; coming out as gay when you are already married or are involved in a heterosexual relationship with a woman; initiating the “I’m gay” conversation with your kids and preparing yourself to field their questions; resolving internalized homophobia and personal religious or moral dilemmas related to living your life as authentically and openly gay
- Familial & Social Rejection: Revealing your sexual orientation to your family members and coping with the full scale of their reactions (happiness, passive resignation, active mourning, outrage or outright rejection); restructuring your life after being kicked out of your parent’s home or having your financial privileges withdrawn; dealing with that one relative who denies your sexual orientation by attempting to set you up on an endless stream of dates with “nice, young ladies”; blending your partner into those awkward but “attendance required” family events (including holidays, weddings, funerals, reunions, plus more+); handling social rejection (from bullying in school to old friends who disagree with your sexual orientation and advertise their disapproval)
- Discrimination & Violence: Contending with discrimination in higher education or the workplace; encountering hostility from housing or adoption agencies, law enforcement officials, healthcare providers, or political infrastructures that challenge your “personhood”; healing (both physically and emotionally) in the aftershock of hate-motivated violence (bullying; sexual or physical assault; the battering or death of a loved one; emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by a parent, etc.)
- Relationships: Navigating same sex relationships (from monogamous to polyamorous unions); coping with jealousy in open relationships and learning how to feel comfortable with yourself when single; dating a partner who is still in the closet or dating men while living in a conservative community; online dating (the exhilaration, and the horrors!); discussing your sexual history with your partner or dealing with sexual intimacy issues (erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, lack of desire, and more+); dating a partner from a different religious, cultural, or ethnic background and learning how to respect your differences
- Marriage & Family: The headaches of planning the perfect proposal and wedding; pre-marital counseling to enhance your emotional and sexual intimacy and deepen your communication; dealing with the unexpected disapproval of family members who approve of your relationship… but who frown upon gay marriage; starting a family and negotiating the specifics (adoption, egg donors, etc.); ironing out parenting rules and roles
- HIV/AIDS & Health: Locating a healthcare provider whom you trust; receiving routine screenings for HIV/AIDS/STI’s and issues related to gay men’s health (cancer screenings: prostate, oral, rectal, colon, etc.); rebounding from negative experiences with healthcare providers; informing past, current, and prospective partners that you are HIV+ and coping with your diagnosis
- Mental Health: Accepting treatment for mental health issues that affect gay men in elevated numbers (substance abuse, body image issues, depression, anxiety, and abuse)
How Can Gay-Competent Therapy & Counseling Services Help Me?
Living your life authentically as a gay man is an amazing gift – but it’s not always easy. Achieving self-acceptance is hard, regardless of your sexual orientation. Finding a therapist who believes in your worth and doesn’t make you feel judged can be priceless. It’s really all about striking that perfect balance: a therapist who acknowledges the impact of your sexual orientation on your counseling issue… but who doesn’t obsess about you being gay. Because coping with being gay? That’s not always the problem. For those who do seek counseling for a gay-related issue, an LGBTQ+-competent therapist may help you:
- Resolve uncertainty about same sex attraction and overcome internalized homophobia (shame, guilt, or self-stigmatization) about identifying as gay
- Come out to your family, friends, work associates, and romantic partners (if you’re currently involved in a heterosexual relationship or marriage)
- Cope with familial rejection, prejudice, discrimination, and emotional, physical, or sexual violence
- Receive qualified and competent care for associated mental health concerns (substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and more+)
- Get connected to gay-affirmative resources in your community for gay men, including social support groups and unbiased healthcare providers
- Pilot the world of same-sex dating (from exclusive to open relationships, dating closeted partners, dealing with homophobic family members, and more+)
- Relieve marriage, family, and parenting headaches
- Discuss and identify treatment options for sexual performance and intimacy issues
- Deal with your or a partner’s diagnosis of a terminal illness (including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and more+)