Doris Bersing, PhD
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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.

 


A Victory for Therapists and LGBT: U.S. Supreme Court Says No To Conversion Therapy

NCLR June 30, 2014
NCLR June 30, 2014

I was so happy when earlier today, I received, like many of us, an email from Kate Kendell, Esq, the fabulous executive Director for The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) saying “…Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a challenge to California’s law—which NCLR and Equality California helped draft, pass, and defend—that protects LGBT children from conversion therapists. The decision clears the way for enforcement of the first law in the nation that protects kids from unethical counselors and therapists who engage in these dangerous practices to try to change their sexual orientation or gender expression.

For therapists all around the globe these are GREAT NEWS, as NCLR picture shows “…you can not switch off who you are…” While as many as 1 in 3 LGBT people have been subjected to conversion therapy, whether by a licensed clinician, a religious leader, or another trusted adult, the trauma of these experiences can make it difficult to come forward. (Read some survivor stories)

It is really scaring to think that professionals who had studied the harmful effects of pushing a personal agenda into a psychotherapy client can be unethically oblivious of the devastating effects of conversion therapy (Read More About Conversion Therapy

What is next? Converting people of color into white or converting right brain people onto left-brain for the sake of somebody’s new agenda or bias? Give me a break. We therapists are supposed not to harm and be the catalyst for our clients’ process, it is not our place to change anybody but help them to explore their path and desires.

NCLR has launched the project NCLR has launched Born Perfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapyin the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT kids, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.


Gay and Lesbian Couples Counseling

Copyright : Rudolph Pieterse

I am always looking for the latest, the newest article or event related to LGBT well-being or LGBT rights, just a passion of mine, and part of my practice. However, some things like the Iliad by Homer and the Bible are timeless. Not always the newer is the better. For instance, I ran into a wonderful article by by Michael C. LaSala, Ph.D., LCSW in Gay and Lesbian Well-Being for Psychology Today where he addresses the issues of  “Helping Same-Sex Couples Who’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

Dr. LaSala stresses the importance  -in the midst of our fight for same sex marriage, he addresses how to avoid same sex divorce, and said “…What about couples’ therapy? If your relationship is having problems and you are pursuing this step, that’s a good sign–the prognosis for your partnership is good because people who take action to save (or improve) a troubled relationship often manage to do so. However, if you’re looking for someone to referee your conflicts, or to finally convince your thickheaded partner of your unassailable sense of fairness and the truth, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Over the past 25 years, I have done quite a bit of relationship therapy and here is some of what I have learned that you should keep in mind as you move forward…”

Sometimes, I think couples, LGBT or others just wait too long to seek therapy and sometimes it is too late when they come to see me for help. Perhaps this article will help you to do the right thing in a timely manner (wink-wink). Read Dr. LaSala article


Therapy for older LGBT individuals

happy lesbian couple.When addressing the needs for counseling and therapy for the LGBT population, we are already stressing the importance of this segment of our society, however like with any group of people, we cannot just compile ALL issues for all of the group in only one issue or set of issues as the solutions are not one size fits all, either. In 2011, David Richards’ article ‘Working with older LGBT people’ (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2830/)  explores the challenges of working therapeutically with older LGBT men and women, for gay, lesbian and heterosexual practitioners”. He stresses the generalities of working with this population but as expressed by Carly Hall: “… there are some issues that I would like to raise in the interests of older lesbians. I speak as a lesbian growing older, a client, a healthcare professional and a researcher…First, to address LGBT as one general group I believe is incorrect. Even taking out the bisexual and transgender, one is still left with two hugely diverse groups. Political, sociological and economic influences over the years, combined with the biology of being a woman, will inevitably make older lesbians’ experiences markedly different from those of gay men of a similar age.Women who today are over 65 (born pre-1947) and identify as lesbians are acknowledged by health and social care researchers to be a difficult group to reach; ‘convenience’ samples may not always be representative of the wide group. But there are findings from pertinent research studies, including my own, which may have relevance for the therapist.  Read Carly Hall’s article (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2972/)


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