Embracing the LGBTQ+ Community

I was raised in a small Midwestern town where you might think conservative views would dominate. However, my family and my high school teachers were very open minded when I was a teen. They felt the wave of compassion that swept the country in the late 60's for all walks of life, including the poor, the segregated, and the victimized. The "Gay" community was a part of this focus, and I was given a research project to study their way of life without bias. My psychology teacher wanted other students to benefit from my research, and so I presented this paper multiple times for all of the health classes at the junior and senior levels. The research gave the students a historical perspective and normalized same-sex lovers and their way of life. Now fifty years later, it is amazing to me it took up until just a few years ago to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians in this country.

With this background, I became a licensed counselor in the state of Florida in 1990. I was saddened many times hearing the stories of my clients being ostracized within their families and work settings due to their sexual identities. I advertised in the first "Gay Friendly" Yellow Pages in Jacksonville and attended the first "Gay Pride" parades. When I was Director of Counseling at the Women's Center of Jacksonville, I wrote grants to open up free services to those with HIV/AIDS and more recently to increase access for those identifying with the broader LGBTQ+ community. I included special training for the licensed counselors so they could sharpen their skills and abilities to work with this population, especially the growing number of high school students questioning gender and its various definitions.

From my experience, I believe that many people are more androgynous than our biased culture could ever embrace, and so it can be very healing to express these thoughts and feelings within the safety of a nurturing environment like therapy. I have also had the opportunity to counsel many clients identifying with polyamory as well as couples with alternative agreements regarding their sexual boundaries. In sharing these details, I hope to offer reassurance to anyone wanting to come in for individual or couple therapy that I will welcome a varied and beautiful rainbow of love arrangements, sexual orientations, and sexual identities with openness and compassion.