In the 50 years since the police raid on the Stonewall Bar in Greenwich Village, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons have made enormous progress. New legislation has legalized same-sex marriage in many states and the Supreme Court has basically approved that principle. New research in states that have legalized same-sex marriage show that the suicide rate among LGBT persons has dropped an average of 7% after the passage of pro rights state legislation.
But not all states have progressed with legislation favorable to LGBT persons. Under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination in public business is prohibited on the basis of race, color, religion and nation origin, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, LGBT persons who live in states where it is legal to deny basic services on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity have a much higher risk for mental health problems. One study finds a 42% increase in LGBT persons reporting depression or anxiety in states that passed denial of services law. (Article in the New York Times)
Coming Out Issues Remain
In psychotherapy and counseling, LGBT persons still voice concerns about fear of discrimination and rejection, increasing the likelihood of anxiety and depression. Many still find coming out issues difficult. Yes, there are parents who are more tolerant, but LGBT persons discover that acceptance is often a long ongoing process.
New Concerns Addressed in Counseling
More encouraging now is that in psychotherapy there is a definite focus on safety and confidentiality, support in building self-esteem, help in establishing stable relationships and guidance in finding work settings and careers that are meaningful. Also, younger LGBT persons are more open about exploring fluid gender and sexual orientations. This can be an exciting time for growth and self-acceptance.
Here Are Some Frequent Questions that LGBT Clients Ask:
1. How do I manage and reduce my anxiety?
2. What am I doing that prevents me from having long term friendships or relationships?
3. How do I tell my friends and my family about my life and my sexual orientation?
4. What if I am not ready to tell friends or family about my gender identity or sexual orientation?
5. How can I build my self-confidence?
Finding the Right Counselor
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and straight persons have universal issues for sure, but frequently LGBT clients have particular concerns. It can be very helpful to work with a psychotherapist who is non-judgmental and caring. Affirmative support in a safe, confidential setting from an active and experienced therapist offers the best context for growth, solutions and resolution of problems.