Doris Bersing, PhD
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Unleashing the Real Deal: The Bold Odyssey of Proudly Proclaiming Gayness in the Golden Years

Not as Easy as People Think: Understanding The Journey of Coming Out In Old Age

Oh, coming out is not just a walk in the park! Especially back in the good ol’ days when being gay was illegal in the USA, and guess what? nowadays, it’s still illegal in many countries ! Can you believe it? And hey, let’s not forget that in the not-so-distant past, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a lovely little sociopathic personality disturbance. How charming!

And as if being a sexual minority wasn’t already challenging, let’s throw in being a member of another minority group, because why not? So go ahead, be gay and be part of the Latinx, Asian, African American, or religious practitioner communities! Double dipping, anyone?

Well, apparently there’s no magical age to burst out of the closet, but I suppose the sooner, the merrier! Seriously, who wants to live in a cramped and stuffy closet? Speaking from personal experience, during my rebellious teenage years and the wild ride of my early adulthood, I took to boys like I was on a fast trip down a one-lane highway, but the idea of being with a girl, although familiar, was more for others but not for me.  It didn’t occur to me to do anything other than what was expected, so, I was a fashionably late bloomer who finally strutted my stuff in my fabulous thirties. Let me tell you it was far from a leisurely stroll in a picturesque park. I had to face societal stereotypes, homophobia, and countless expectations from my dear family, colleagues, and friends. But hey, who said life must be easy, right? It was like carrying an extra-heavy handbag on an already challenging journey. And don’t even get me started on the idea that it might have been easier since there are more gay people now than before. I mean, come on, it’s not like we, suddenly multiplied like rabbits or anything! Indeed, it cannot be denied that there is an element of truth in that statement. According to a Gallup survey there has been a significant increase in the number of adults in the US identifying as LGBTQ+ over the past ten years. This trend is largely driven by the smart and forward-thinking Gen Z adults, who inhabit a world where same-sex marriage is legally recognized across the nation. Additionally, they reside in a society that is increasingly aware of and accepting towards orientations and identities that are not limited to heterosexual and cisgender.

A Little Too Straight. LicenseCopyright. All rights reserved by Missive Maven.
Pictured: James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Errol Flynn, Michelangelo, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bessie Smith, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf.

Non-heterosexual sexual orientations are obviously on the rise, and I think it could be attributed to the societal change of attitudes (openness towards LGBTQ+ people) and more civil liberties (more equal rights, and more legislation in favor of LGBTQ+ rights) supporting  LGBTQ + rights and lifestyle.” The cities and towns are more gay-friendly as well.” All this progress, also make cities more habitable and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. A 2022 survey asking if the World is Better for Gay People Than It Was 10 Years Ago? found  “…the percentage of people who said their communities were good places for gay people to live has increased by at least five percentage points in 73 countries.”  Undoubtedly, the diminishing prejudice against homosexuality has resulted in a significant decrease in the reservations one may face when revealing their true identity as LGBTQ+ individuals. While it is true that homophobia, stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community, and biases against homosexuals have shown signs of decline in recent years, and broader acceptance and tolerance have prevailed, it cannot be denied that some members of the LGBTQ+ community still harbor apprehensions about the potential repercussions that may accompany their decision to openly express their true selves to their parents, colleagues, peers, team members, and other individuals they engage with socially and/or professionally.

Coming Out inLater Life: Challenges and Rewards

Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik

So, it might be easy to assume that given all these liberties and progress, most sexual minorities would be out, as we speak, but most sexual minority people in the world today are probably not out. In many countries, free and open sexual expression can be perilous, so it is in some cultures, families, and/or spheres of life. I always tell my LGBTQ+ patients who are struggling with coming out in their old age that they can choose to live authentically and openly, but it doesn’t have to be a grand announcement for everyone to hear, as each person has their own unique journey. This process can also be stressful or even risky or dangerous. You may feel safer not coming out in certain situations.  You don’t have to be out everywhere, all the time. You can decide what’s best for you. If ready to come out, but before “jumping the gun” consider your circumstances. Does coming out mean that you risk losing emotional or financial support from your family? If so, are you ready to deal with that? Or would you have enough emotional support to deal with your family rejection? Could coming out put you in physical danger? The most important matter is that ONLY you are in charge of your coming out experience.

You will not be alone, according to an article by AARP, there are an estimated 3 million LGBTQ+ adults over the age of 50 in the United States, and for those in midlife and beyond, coming out to loved ones can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. If someone’s sexual preferences have changed or they want to finally embrace their true self, they may face obstacles such as societal pressure and internalized homophobia. Coming out as gay in old age can be an adventure, like uncovering a hidden treasure chest filled with colorful gems. Suddenly, life feels brighter and more authentic, and one may even become the fabulous grandparent who proudly waves the rainbow flag. There’s no one right way to come out and one size-does-not fit all.  It can feel better to be open and honest about your sexual orientation than to hide it, but there are many factors to consider before coming out. Let’s not forget that along with the rewards, there are also challenges. Many have lived a lie for decades, introducing their partner as a roommate or business partner, and for those with religious backgrounds, there is the fear of discrimination and rejection. Some may even struggle to separate their desires from their upbringing and may feel guilty or ashamed. Undoing a lifetime of lies and living in one’s truth is easier said than done.

Once upon a time, I landed a gig as a fancy consultant tasked with conjuring up some top-notch wellness programs for the hip residents of a swanky new facility. My job also included training the staff on how to create a haven of safety and inclusivity specifically tailored for our fabulous LGBTQ+ seniors. Pretty cool, right? The facility promised to be a place where individuals could freely express themselves, emphasizing that the “closet was only for clothes.” But here’s the kicker – despite all the planning, plotting, and promising, this magical place never got to see the light of day. Poof! Just like that, it vanished into thin air. The primary concern voiced by the seniors, all of whom identified as LGBTQ+, was that they felt it was too late in their lives to come out to their families and reveal the truth about their relationships. This fear of rejection and judgment prevented them from fully embracing their authentic selves. It was truly saddening to see these individuals yearning for acceptance and support, only to have their hopes dashed.

Well, believe it or not, there’s actually a silver lining to this incredibly thrilling story. After a brilliant first attempt (note the sarcasm), our genius minds decided to join forces with a bunch of enthusiastic grassroots folks and developers who clearly understood that the return on investment was just too easy to pass up. And voila, behold the majestic Fountaingrove Lodge behold. The FGL was the one and only retirement community in the entire nation that was exclusively tailored to cater to the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals and all those wonderful allies that support them. It was a long-awaited beacon of hope and acceptance for those who had spent much of their lives feeling marginalized. Amazing, right? A decade later, others finally got it. We needed places where to retire and feel welcome and safe. (Here there is a link to an article with few other places in the USA catering to older LGBTQ+ individuals).

Personal Stories of Thriving After Coming Out in Your Golden Years

So, for some, coming out is a daunting possibility and for others it can be liberating. As Meredith shared in an article in The Guardian, coming out in her 90s was a blissful experience. Who would have thought that old age could bring such excitement and freedom? Exploring one’s sexuality in later years can be eye-opening, and it reminds us that life always has a way of surprising us. Just when we think we’ve experienced it all, a new twist comes along. While it may seem unconventional to come out in old age, there is no age limit to love and self-discovery. And at some point, a different reality emerges to give life a new sense of purpose. So why not embrace this new chapter with open arms and a fabulous rainbow flag?

Lynn Segerblom, one of the women behind the creation of the first rainbow flags for the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco, is photographed with a rainbow flag near her home in Torrance. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Many of my patients had also made it through the process of coming out, “to the other side” happily ever after and their stories are truly inspiring. They remind us of the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of the human heart. These individuals have defied societal expectations, faced their deepest fears, and emerged. One such story is that of Robert, an 80-year-old man who spent his entire life in the closet. Robert had always felt a deep attraction to men but was too scared to come out due to the fear of judgment and rejection. It was only in his late 70s that he found the courage to embrace his true self. Despite the initial challenges he faced, Robert now lives a life filled with authenticity, joy, and a newfound sense of freedom.

Another inspiring story is that of Alejandra a 75-year-old woman who had been married to a man for over 50 years. Alejandra always knew she was attracted to women but felt societal and family pressure to conform to heterosexual norms. She was raised catholic and had two children and a very homophobic family…and husband. After her husband passed away, she made the brave decision to come out to her children and grandchildren. And moved in with Norma, a lifetime friend who used to spent holidays and vacations with Alejandra’s family. While there were initial difficulties, shame for lying for so long, guilt for doing it now, Alejandra’s family eventually embraced her for who she truly is, and she now lives a life filled with love, acceptance, and personal fulfillment.

Often the pressures to come out are not only from society but from personal biases and the outcomes are not always so positive; Martha, one of my exceptional patients, bravely embraced her true self in her late 60s, shedding societal expectations and personal biases. Despite being married to a man for more than 40 years, Martha had the courage to recognize her authentic identity. However, her journey toward self-acceptance was far from easy. Confronting her own internalized homophobia and fearing the potential disapproval of her children were daunting obstacles that she had to overcome. Sadly, this path ultimately resulted in her estrangement from her beloved offspring. Martha’s story is a testament to her intellectual prowess and indomitable spirit.

Like for Martha, and many others, coming out as LGBTQ+ can be an incredibly difficult and emotional process, as individuals often grapple with the fear of disrupting the lives of those closest to them, feeling caught between two worlds where they may not fully belong – neither in the straight world nor the gay world – adding an additional layer of complexity to their journey. But guess what? Martha’s incredible courage brought her incredible rewards! Now, she is experiencing a dynamic and gratifying existence, encompassed by an extraordinary network of encouraging comrades, and a few of her cherished individuals who genuinely comprehend and embrace her genuine self (her grandchildren sought her guidance when grappling with their own sexual identity, isn’t that just so incredibly ironic?). And it’s not only her – there are countless captivating narratives waiting to be discovered!

Take Jim Kisthardt for instance, Jim at the age of 75, finally found the strength to come out as LGBTQ+ after his wife of 51 years passed away. “…Can you believe it? Back then, being gay was considered an absolute nightmare. It was seen as something far worse than divorce, tearing families apart…” Another of these “never too late stories” is Norman’s one, at 72-year old who underwent electroshock therapy, was hospitalized, and did aversion therapy, all to try to stop being gay. Finally, after his wife of 40 years passed away, he said “…part of me went with her. But at last, I could shout about my sexuality…” As times evolve, some are defying those outdated norms and embracing their true selves with pride. Isn’t that amazing? But it is not everybody’s story. We need the determination, the courage, and the support of professionals, family and friends. It takes a village…

I didn’t find there was much difference between loving a man and loving a woman. In general, love is love’ (portraits from Not Another Second.) Photograph: Karsten Thormaehlen, nAscent Art New York and RXM

Discover other captivating stories when you dive deep into the mesmerizing exhibition, “Not Another Second,” curated by Watermark Retirement Communities. Prepare to be amazed by the incredible bravery exhibited by these 12 extraordinary LGBTQ+ seniors, who fearlessly embraced their authentic selves. Transforming their once sad stories into powerful narratives of hope and joy. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to hear their stories and celebrate their triumphs over adversity.

Embrace Your True Self and Live a Fulfilling Life in Your “The-Best is Yet-to-Come” Years

Well, well, well, isn’t coming out just the wildest adventure?

It requires an abundance of time and courage, my friend. Brace yourself for this deeply personal and unique experience because trust me, it’s a rollercoaster like no other. And just when you least expect it, “guess who’s back?!” – coming out makes surprise appearances in the most unexpected situations. The emotions running through you during this wild ride can go from butterflies in your stomach to jumping for joy. Plus, who, when, and why you come out adds a whole new layer of comedy to the mix. So, buckle up, because this coming-out journey is going to be one heck of a hilarious ride! And of course, the best part is not even knowing who, when, or why you’ll have to come out next. Isn’t it thrilling?

Unlocking your true inner self is a journey that never ceases to amaze, no matter your age. From the tales of triumph to the hurdles faced along the way, embracing your authentic self is a smart decision. Don’t let anything hinder the brilliance of your gay identity, whether it’s in your golden years or the prime of your life. Remember, age is merely a number, and it can never dim the radiance of your fabulous self as you embark on the path of embracing your gay identity during your golden years.

Life’s too short for anything less, darling!

 

If you or someone you know is going through the coming out process later in life, remember that there is support available. Reach out to LGBTQ+ organizations, find affirming therapists, and connect with communities that celebrate and embrace your true self. You are not alone, and your journey is valid. Embrace your true self and thrive in your golden years!


LGBTQ+ community and Pope Francis’ Blessings

“A rainbow shines over St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Jan. 31, 2021”.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis grants priests the authority to bless same-sex couples.’. Read More. While it is a major step forward for a 1.378 billion-people organization, it is not considered equal to marriage and the blessings should not be included in any other church ceremony or liturgy.

The declaration states “When two people request a blessing, even if their situation as a couple is “irregular,” it will be possible for the ordained minister to consent. However, this gesture of pastoral closeness must avoid any elements that remotely resemble a marriage rite…” Read the full declaration. 

Chosen to lead the Catholic Church in 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has made notable strides in advocating for culturally progressive ideas within the church. This has included softening the church’s stance towards the LGBTQ+ community, as well as speaking out against consumerism, war and climate change. While these steps have been well-received by many, they have also been met with scorn by others, as was the case online in the wake of the same-sex blessings decision.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis was chosen to lead the Catholic Church in 2013 and has since made significant progress in promoting culturally progressive ideals within the church. In recent times, the church has adopted a more accepting attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community and has actively spoken out against consumerism, war, and climate change. Although these actions have been positively received by some, they have also faced criticism from others, as evidenced by the backlash on social media after the ruling on same-sex blessings. See more here.

It may prove difficult to please the vast population of 3 billion individuals in unison is a tough feat, but this serves as a positive starting point to terminate the catholic church’s discrimination and homophobia and become a part of a new reality. Whether one is in favor or not.

 


Homophobia todavía vivita y coleando: no tengo nada en contra pero…

Lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transexuales, intersexo, y otras personas que se identifican con la cultura “queer:  enfrentan peligros físicos pero sobre todo emocionales por ser quienes son  y atreverse a vivir como quieren y a ejercitar el derecho de libre albedrío que todos tenemos. Existe abundante evidencia de que el prejuicio que enfrentamos, la homofobia,  es tóxico y perverso, invade los espacios sociales, familiares y penetra nuestra psique profundamente. Por lo tanto, a pesar de todas las victorias ganadas la homofobia esta “vivita y coleando”.

Por ejemplo, cuando este prejuicio contra los homosexuales proviene de los padres o de ls entidades religiosas,  el efecto es mucho mas profundo. Según el profesor de psicología de la Universidad de Tennessee Knoxville, Dawn Szymanski, la investigación muestra que experimentar el rechazo de los padres de su identidad sexual está relacionado con la negatividad traumática internalizada, lo que los psicólogos llaman “homonegatividad internalizada” o “estigma internalizado”. Lo mismo es cierto cuando una persona pertenece a una religión que rechaza la homosexualidad. Todo esto no solo aumenta el odio y la intolerancia hacia estos grupos pero incrementa la internalization de que algo malo sucede con nosotros, que no somos lo suficiente buenos, lo suficientemente aptos, queridos o dignos de maor yes internalization afecta nuestro auto concepto y la manera como nos vemos a nosotros mismos y como interactuamos con los demás. La homofobia está tan arraigada en el arquetipo colectivo que hacemos chistes y usamos comentarios peyorativos para referirnos a los miembros de esas comunidades “LGBTI” pero a pesar de los esfuerzos por superarlo, incluso en España, considerada como el segundo país, después de Alemania, en recibir y aprobar a los miembros LGBT, todavía se hacen chistes y agresiones de bajo tono contra las personas gays. La Universidad de Barcelona, hace varios meses difundió un estudio de los 12 comentarios homophobic mas usados por nuestra cultura.

De allí que podrás imaginar lo que es  crecer escuchando a tus seres queridos afirmando que ciertos grupos de personas son malvados. De hecho, estas personas son tan malas, tan equivocadas, que Dios mismo las castigará. Imagina absorber este odio profundamente en tus huesos. Imagine que luego descubre, en algún momento de su adolescencia, que es una de estas personas. Ellos son los odiados. Eres el odiado y luego la sociedad viene a reforzar que eres anormal, que algo anda mal dentro de ti, en tu cabeza, con sus micro-agresiones o mas abiertos y hóstiles ataques.  Estos acosos y ataques son reales y ocurren a nivel físico, amenazando la vida, mientras otros mas soslayados solo socavan tu seguridad emocional y autoestima. Lo aprendemos desde pequeños y terminamos internalizandolo como una realidad.Una consecuencia de este estigma internalizado por nosotros y otros es la violencia entre o contra nosotros mismos: los estudios de parejas del mismo sexo muestran que la homofobia internalizada es un predictor significativo de violencia dentro de una relación. El odio a uno mismo también crea una profunda angustia psicológica: un metaanálisis encontró que los niveles más altos de estigma anti-gay internalizado se correlacionan con una peor salud mental. La angustia psicológica puede incluir ansiedad, depresión, baja autoestima e hiperactivación, un estado de mayor tensión que incluye irritabilidad, ira y agresión.

Hoy en día, la lucha por firmar nuestras identidad gay es tan actual como lo fue en los escondidos bares de la post guerra en incluso los de los tiempos de Stonewall in New York en los 50’s y 60’s por eso, ahora mas que nunca tenemos la responsabilidad de detener el acoso, y abrir nuestros corazones a las diferencias, no basta tolerar pero abrazar las diferencias, hacerlas nuestras para enriquecer el tapizado de la humanidad. Cuando viajamos conocemos nuevas gentes, nuevas comidas, pero si no nos traemos nada de esos lugares a casa, es como ir al zoológico y solo mirar y admirar, para luego dejar altas la experiencia y hacerla ajena, lejana y nunca parte de nuestro diario devenir.

Vemos que aunque mucha agua ha pasado por debajo del puente desde la primera marcha en 1976, de las lesbianas en motos(dykes-on-bykes) en San Francisco, mi antigua casa donde disfrute +20 años de libertad y autodeterminación, todavía usamos  términos para intimidar a otros: Dyke Queer Maricón. Las burlas han salido de las lenguas de los matones, pero hemos reclamado las palabras en sus propios términos y continuamos una lista interminable de micro-agresiones contra aquellos cuyo único pecado es ser diferente a la mayoría. Pero si nos unimos todos quien es la mayoría, y cuál mayoría, y la de donde? . Es verdad que no hubo una declaración más fuerte que Dykes en Bikes–el  grupo que dirigió formalmente el desfile del Orgullo de San Francisco en 1976– y se  trasladó al frente para que las máquinas pudieran pasear a los caminantes, pero cierta historia precede a esa presencia. Cuando las mujeres se ofrecieron como voluntarias en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, tomaron trabajos tradicionalmente reservados para hombres. La literatura lésbica vinculaba a las mujeres y las motocicletas, y los carteles de reclutamiento exudaban el clásico estilo butch de la época. Las mujeres hemos estado en la vanguardia de muchos de los cambios que hemos visto crecer durante la historia de la humanidad, y quizás este sea el tiempo para usar mas de las herramientas femeninas del poder, la sabiduría, y el aspecto enriquecedor y nutritivo para enseñar a nuestros hijos e hijas, hermanos y hermanas que hay otra manera de vivir.

Por otra parte, veo con placer que en mi nueva casa, a pesar del lio politico, se refuerza que esta región es tierra de tolerancia y de libertades individuales, han escogido las festividades de San Narciso en Gerona para inaugurar la primera las publica par la comunidad LBTI.  Catalunya, es uno de los territorios pioneros en la integración del colectivo LGBTI y en promover leyes contra la homofobia y la discriminación. Cataluña da la bienvenida a gays, lesbianas, bisexuales y transexuales, en una parte pues reconocen el poder adquisitivo y el impacto turístico de dicha comunidad, pero aun con el debido sarcasmo, quizás  lo hacen también por sensibilidad y tradición “… Cataluña “es tu casa”, como dice la canción, “si es que hay casas que son de alguien”.

Si mis amigas y amigos, mucha agua ha corrido bajo los puentes y vemos nuevas actitudes pero bajo la solapa, la tolerancia  a medias se descubre sin raspar mucho la superficie. Son muchas las ciudades que se declaran “gay-friendly” o abiertas a los miembros de la comunidad LGBTI, pero aun así, encontramos  las dobles caras, como esta en Montevideo, Uruguay donde nos dejan saber, que somos aceptados mientras no demostremos nuestro afecto to una a la otra en publico (demostraciones publicas de afecto gay –en inglés se le conoce como Gay PDA = Public Display of Affection). Todos lo vemos y lo sabemos, pero rara vez hablamos de ello: el estigma en torno a las demostraciones públicas de afecto entre parejas del mismo sexo. Como compañera lesbiana, me parece triste y frustrante que la comunidad LGBTQ + sienta que tienen que ocultar su amor y afecto mutuo. ¿Por qué alguien debería sentir que no puede besarse o tomarse de la mano de su pareja en público? Desafortunadamente, hay varias razones por las cuales esto está sucediendo

Aunque algunas encuestas muestran adverso moral en base, a cualquier demostración de afecto en publico, los números incrementan cuando se tratan de parejas delmismo sexo. Una encuesta hecha por Poll PDA Gay – Eonline hacia las demostraciones de afecto en público independientemente sean gay o no y ante la pregunta” Le dan mas asco las demostraciones de afecto en publico de las parejas gay que las de los hetero?se encontraron los siguientes resultados.

  • 16.7% Si, admito que los lenguados de parejas del mismo sexo me hacen brincar el estomago
  • 28.8% No: La batalla de “espadas de saliva” no me molesta, gay o hetero
  • 54.5% Ni lo uno o lo otro: Odio cualquier PDA en general y me gust aria que la prohibieran.

No puedo negar mi sorpresa con las respuestas del 54.5% de personas entrevistadas por la encuesta Eonline donde desaprueban cualquier gesto de afecto en publico. En este momento cuando el mundo esta colapsando en muchos sentidos, los partidos politicos no logran agrupar cohesivamente a sus partidarios, y la tierra sufre por nuestra irresponsabilidad y falta de buentrato, es mucho lo que debemos hacer y demostrar afecto de cualquier manera pudiera ser una respuesta.  No importa si  mas y mas gobiernos instituyen leyes que protegen el matrimoio del mismo sexo, la adopción para parejas gay, y hasta los mas conservadores como países Asiáticos han abierto la puerta ha la aceptación, tolerancia y reconocimiento de diferente individualidades si no nos comprometemos como individuos a acabar el odio y la segregación, debemos hacer mas. Todavía resuena en el aire la frase enunciada en Mayo 2019 por la presidenta the Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, quien alegre de apoyar la ley de reconocimiento de matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo, dijera a los diputados, “…tenemos una oportunidad de hacer historia y mostrarle al mundo que los valores progresistas pueden arraigar en las sociedades de Asia Oriental… y mostrar al mundo que el amor gana”.

Junto con legislaciones políticas y edictos gubernamentales, debemos buscar en el fondo de nuestros corazones y revisar nuestros mitos y prejuicios pues después de todo las comunidades no son mas que la suma de individuos, a veces llenos de miedo y paranoia que vemos a los nuevos, los diferentes, gays, inmigrantes, refugiados como enemigos que nos contaminaran de algo horrendo o nos quitaran algo que es solo nuestro. Todos tenemos derecho a vivir en esta tierra, a existir y a hacer uso de nuestros derechos y si lo hacemos juntos, es mejor.

Sigamos luchando,  por cambiar lo que es inaceptable y como la activista y profesora Norte Americana, Angela Davis dice:

NO ESTOY ACEPTANDO LAS COSAS QUE NO PUEDO CAMBIAR, ESTOY CAMBIANDO LAS COSAS QUE NO PUEDO ACEPTAR


Marcel Proust on Memory and Coming Out

Who is afraid Of Marcel proustMarcel Proust, a  XX century famous writer, author of a masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, brings to my attention the phenomenon of forgetfulness sometimes attached to the epidemic of dementia.  In Search of Lost Time, is one of Proust’s renowned creations (À la recherche du temps perdu published in seven volumes, previously translated as Remembrance of Things Past) (1913–1927).

In this work, Proust recounts his experiences  while growing up, participating in society, falling in love, and learning about art. He also discusses  memory, separation anxiety, the role of art in life, and homosexuality at length. He described many of the instances of Déjà vudéjà vécu effects and other phenomena related to memory. Proust shows the similarity between the structures and mechanisms of the human mind related to unfinished business and psycho-dynamic  principles he talks about, even without knowing or reading Freud.In this creation, Proust also speaks extensively in this book about the challenges of homosexuality, internalized homophobia, and the challenges of coming out as a homosexual.  Although Proust was gay, he had ambivalent feelings around coming out.

Proust stresses those challenges of being and living as homosexual in a society that des not understand or accept it. Identifying oneself as part of the LGBT group is not always easy or welcoming the way we would wish it to be. Although many people find that coming out is a positive experience, coming out has its challenges and it could have both a positive and a negative impact on the person’s life. It could affect the individual’s family relationships, social relationships, school, or work. Some LGBT people fear negative reactions, rejection and upsetting people they are close to. In many parts of the world strong cultural attitudes and discriminatory laws make coming out even harder. In USA things have changed legally, lately but at a personal level, there are still fears and internalized feelings of homophobia.

In a review by Edmund White for the New York Times, he states that among writers, the twentieth-century novelist they most admired–and who they thought would have the most enduring influence on the next century–was Marcel Proust.

An interesting take on Proust’s stance on memory is performed by  James Keller  a San Francisco Bay Area artist, who guides the audience through the seven volumes of  this Marcel Proust’s great 20th century novel, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, about the importance of memory and forgetting, using 180 slides and music as part of the narrative in a virtuoso performance which John Lahr (senior drama critic of The New Yorker magazine) called, “A tour de force” and also, has said that “James Keller is the most well-read person I know.”

One of the big accomplishments of In Search of the lost time, is Proust’s position about the impossibility to recover the time we lose, the forfeiture of innocence through experience, the emptiness of love and friendship, the vanity of human endeavors, and the triumph of sin and despair; but Proust’s conclusion is that the life of every day is supremely important, full of moral joy and beauty, which, though they may be lost through faults inherent in human nature, are indestructible and recoverable.

In a personal level, one of Proust’s marvels as a writer was projecting  his own homosexuality upon his characters, treating them, as well as snob, vane, and cruel, but able to love even if considered it as a sin.

Just food for thought in some of Proust’s  famous and inspiring quotes are:

  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.
  • Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
  • If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.

The Closet: Psychological Issues and Psychotherapy of Coming Out for LGBT

© Lee Serenethos

© Lee Serenethos

A very commonly used terms in our society, nowadays, gay or not gay is “coming out” that refers to disclose something that has been otherwise hidden. Dr. Jack Drescher, MD in 2004 already said the experience could be extremely dissociative for the individual “in the closet”. He said: … Coming out may be the most commonly shared cultural experience that defines the modern gay identity. Historically, the term was an ironic reference to debutantes “coming out into society” (Chauncey, 1994). In contemporary usage, “coming out of the closet” means telling another person that one is gay…Years spent in the closet can make the prospect of revealing oneself an emotionally charged experience. However, the process is not just about revealing oneself to others–in coming out, gay people integrate, as best they can, dissociated aspects of the self…” Many LGBT clients had expressed their relief after coming out and finding themselves able to live a life they could not live freely while “in-the-closet”. The University of Montreal published an article in 2013 supporting the health benefits of coming out. They found:…” Lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGBs) who are out to others have lower stress hormone levels and fewer symptoms of anxiety, depression, and burnout, according to researchers. Cortisol is a stress hormone in our body. When chronically strained, cortisol contributes to the ‘wear and tear’ exerted on multiple biological systems…Contrary to our expectations, gay and bisexual men had lower depressive symptoms and allostatic load levels than heterosexual men. Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who were out to family and friends had lower levels of psychiatric symptoms and lower morning cortisol levels than those who were still in the closet…”

The study found that LGBT people who needs to ‘fight-for-life” and their rights develop better coping skills and strategies to deal with social stressors. Coming out is a major milestone in our lives as LGBT and sometimes supportive guidance through the process makes it easier and really meaningful.

The Association of Gay & Lesbian Psychiatrists stresses that coming out is a very individual process and that “… the therapist needs to become familiar with issues specific to being GLB, and in particular the issue of coming out. The assumption that GLB identities are normal need not lead to “cheer leading,” nor should the therapist encourage patients who are questioning their identities to come out prematurely or to simply reassure them that “it is ok to be gay.” Therapists can be most helpful if they have no agenda as to how patients resolve complex issues of identity, affiliation, and openness, and do not push for premature resolution in these areas… The process of coming out is complex and can take years. The process is not linear. In therapy, there can be times of great movement and change interspersed with long, seemingly quiescent periods. Therapists need to be patient, respectful and open to many possible end points – including a straight identity, a gay or lesbian identity, bisexual experiences and identity, or even the patient’s rejection of a traditional identity label altogether…” (Read more)

Lately, in the New York Time, Elizabeth Keranen wrote ‘We Are Never Going Back to the Closet Darkness’ emphasizing the LGBTQ community now has many, many straight allies, and no matter the critics and attacks from religious groups and extreme right activists and followers, they are never going back to the closet darkness. A perspective bringing a new reality where “many Americans are finally moving from condemnation to acceptance.”

Despite of progress, openness towards LGBTQ people, respecting the client’s tempo and examining his societal circumstances (family, workplace, profession), relationships, clinical stance, and psychological assets and challenges need to be part of the coming-out assessment to guide the process towards the client wants to guide it at her/his own pace. Remember one size does not fit all and what suits one client can be very risky and detrimental to other person’s reality and life experience. Supportive? Yes, Overbearing? Never.

ack Drescher,: “…Coming out may be the most commonly shared cultural experience that defines the modern gay identity. Historically, the term was an ironic reference to debutantes “coming out into society” (Chauncey, 1994). In contemporary usage, “coming out of the closet” means telling another person that one is gayYears spent in the closet can make the prospect of revealing oneself an emotionally charged experience. However, the process is not just about revealing oneself to others–in coming out, gay people integrate, as best they can, dissociated aspects of the self.

Coming out may be the most commonly shared cultural experience that defines the modern gay identity. Historically, the term was an ironic reference to debutantes “coming out into society” (Chauncey, 1994). In contemporary usage, “coming out of the closet” means telling another person that one is gay.

Years spent in the closet can make the prospect of revealing oneself an emotionally charged experience. However, the process is not just about revealing oneself to others–in coming out, gay people integrate, as best they can, dissociated aspects of the self.

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/closet-psychological-issues-being-and-coming-out/page/0/2#sthash.4EU15UvJ.dpuf

Coming out may be the most commonly shared cultural experience that defines the modern gay identity. Historically, the term was an ironic reference to debutantes “coming out into society” (Chauncey, 1994). In contemporary usage, “coming out of the closet” means telling another person that one is gay.

Years spent in the closet can make the prospect of revealing oneself an emotionally charged experience. However, the process is not just about revealing oneself to others–in coming out, gay people integrate, as best they can, dissociated aspects of the self.

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/closet-psychological-issues-being-and-coming-out/page/0/2#sthash.4EU15UvJ.dpuf

 


The dark side of the Internet for LGBT people

 No doubt that the use of the internet is very easy, efficient, and convenient. Nonetheless, the use of the internet has been utterly transformed in many ways, but improvements in search technology by Google, Kosmix and others have only begun to plumb the deep web. “A hidden web”

Open or hidden, the web has its pros and cons and minorities, vulnerable people, like children, youth, and others are easy to pray. Professionals at VpN mentor had conducted research on how much LGBT people are bullied online.

They state that along with the benefits of the internet, “the internet can also be an intimidating and dangerous place. Just read the comments on any viral social media post and you’ll see a slew of insults and misdirected aggression. Considering the fact that a large portion of these hateful comments includes homophobic and sometimes even biphobic slurs, the internet is especially threatening to the LGBTQ+ community.

According to their study, “…According to our study, 73% of LGBTQ+ people have reported being personally attacked or harassed online…”

Read the whole article and see the different data and how to stay safe online Here

 


LGBT Youth and Conversion Therapy

Born PerfectConversion therapy or restorative therapies are, ethically and intrinsically, wrong when trying to change an individual’s sexual preference based on homophobia and extreme religious beliefs. These types of treatment have been a source of controversy in the United States and other countries. The American Psychiatric Association has condemned “psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per-se is a mental disorder thus the need to revert the “disease” by changing your sexual preference.The issue is more serious when it comes to youth since they do no have the legal right to oppose their parents’ decisions. Well, for now a victory!

Samantha Ames, Esq. Staff Attorney & Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator for NCLR  just announced, moments ago, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy.  When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from ineffective and harmful practices designed to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Counsel Ames, explains “… today, the Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved. It has used its power to protect the most vulnerable from a dangerous pseudoscience that tells them that who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization in the country that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this year, NCLR launched the Born Perfect campaign to end conversion therapy across the country over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure the safety of LGBT youth, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous and discredited practices Their site explains that in the past” …In the past, some mental health professionals resorted to extreme measures such as institutionalization, castration, and electro-convulsive shock therapy to try to stop people from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Today, while some counselors still use physical treatments like aversive conditioning, the techniques most commonly used include a variety of behavioral, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and other practices that try to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter a person’s gender identity…” Learn More about the Born Perfect Campaign.


Latinas’ Challenges to Come Out of The Closet

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

In the Latin culture the role of women is sometimes defined narrowly and women are brought up to be “super” moms and dedicated wives. The family pressure to keep a clean home, raise well-mannered children and be fabulous cooks can be a little overwhelming. You can add onto that pressure that to be a good “wife” and “mother” implies being heterosexual, and find the right “husband” not the right wife.

Latinas,  are professionals, blue collar workers, students, artists, and they all face their own struggles, successes, and secrets.  For we Latinas are as diverse, as shallow, and as deep as our dominant-culture counterparts. Our stories of immigration and oppression are gripping, but they are not only stories of discrimination or acculturation to tell, we also have our gender struggle stories to tell. Some are wives and mothers, yet individuals, too and some of us are lesbians and proud of it. Yet our culture and family does not welcome, always, our “coming out of the closet”. Our stories are as wide and as varied as the hues we come in.

Even the Spanish language conspires against those women who called themselves lesbians or bi-sexuals, because most of the counterpart words in Spanish have a negative connotation. Activists at the Human Rights Campaign had written that “…Although “gay” has the same meaning in Spanish as in English, the word “lesbiana” still has negative connotations. Many Latina women who love women, however, are purposely using the word to reclaim it from those who would use it against them…” (Read More)

On another article HRC states “… Although Latina/o Americans come from various cultural backgrounds, many who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender share similar experiences and challenges. Some, who were raised Roman Catholic, must reconcile themselves with the church’s teachings that acting on one’s homosexuality is sinful. Language differences often make finding resources and support difficult, and a lack of LGBT Latinas/os in media and entertainment perpetuates invisibility. Fortunately, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of Latinas/os are coming out…”

Find more resources for Latinas y Latinos “coming out of the closet” on HRC: Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset

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Same Sex Couples: More Stability? More Resilience? More Trouble?

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Research has shown that behavioral differentiation of the sexes is minimal in children. Sex differences emerge primarily in social situations, and their nature varies with the gender composition during socialization. Patterns of mutual influence can become more symmetrical in intimate male–female dyads, but the distinctive styles of the two sexes can still be seen in such dyads and are subsequently manifested in the roles and relationships of parenthood.

On the other hand, research has found that same sex couples develop, in general, a certain resilience that brings more stability to their lives, there are always exceptions but for instance, Drs. John & Julie Gottman, founders of  The Gottman Institute, an institute in Seattle, WA dedicated to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated.

The Gottmans undertook a 12-year study that revealed same sex couples developed more resilience than some straight couples. have a commitment to assuring that lesbian and gay couples have resources to help strengthen and support their relationships. Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman made a key contribution to research on daughters of lesbians: her work showed that daughters with lesbian moms do just as well as those raised by straight moms. Dr. John Gottman conducted the first longitudinal study of its kind of gay and lesbian relationships using multiple methods and measures. He was able assess the emotional strengths and weaknesses of the relationships, and to learn what makes these relationships more or less stable.Read More About The Study

Same sex parenthood is not an isolated case, studies estimate that between 1 and 9 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is lesbian or gay. There are approximately 594,000 same-sex partner households, according to the 2000 Census, and there are children living in approximately 27 percent of those households. However, we do find many challenges when it comes to fight homophobia and raising a family, one of the biggest challenges facing same-sex parented families is that they must live in a culture that supports heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs, which can affect these families in a variety of ways. A second complication is that these families are usually part of a blended family and include children from previous heterosexual marriages. Some of these families may deal with disagreement from other family members about the authenticity and validity of their family patterns. Lack of support from a previous heterosexual partner or the other biological parent can cause major conflict and distress within the family system. Today, there are many therapists available who specialize in gay and lesbian issues and provide a safe, nonjudgmental and understanding environment for the family. Frequently, gay and lesbian parented families will seek therapeutic help for guidance, support, and recognition that they may not be receiving from the broader social arena. The AAMFT suggests that psychotherapy could help. (Read More How Therapy Can Help)

 


When Love Matters: Same-Sex Couples’ Children Have a Lot

                                Copyright : Maria Dubova


Copyright : Maria Dubova

The largest-ever study of same-sex parents found their children turn out healthier and happier than the general population. A study of 315 same-sex parents and 500 children in Australia found that, after correcting for socioeconomic factors, the children fared well on several measures, including asthma, dental care, behavioral issues, learning, sleep, and speech.

“…what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes…At the same time, two-thirds of the parents reported a perceived stigma on at least one issue tracked by the survey. These stigmas ranged from other people gossiping about an LGBT family to same-sex parents feeling excluded at social gatherings due to their sexual orientation…” Read More

Published in Australia, the study proposes children of same-sex parents enjoy better levels of health and wellbeing than their peers from traditional family units, new Australian research suggests. Read the article So no surprises that when chosen, cherished, and desired, parenting produces more opportunities to love our children despite the gender of the parents.

 


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