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Just Ask Michael: Resources and encouragement provided by readers
Just Ask Michael: Resources and encouragement provided by readers
by Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC - SGN Contributing Writer

I received several emails regarding my article in the Seattle Gay News, " 'Ex-Gay therapy' is no solution" (Aug. 17, 2007). The stories and struggles are compelling and poignant and reflect the fear, pain, strength and relief that most homosexual men and women experience - of all ages. I chose the following two letters because they provided resources that I hope readers will find helpful.

Again, if you are struggling with accepting your homosexuality, please find support and help in people who welcome you and accept you as you are and not people who are trying to convince you that you should be different. It is important to know you are not isolated and alone in your struggles and there is hope, success, and health in connecting with others who can relate to your experiences.

Hi Michael,
I read your article this past weekend in the SGN and wanted to add some additional thoughts; as I have gone through ex-Gay therapy and have had the opportunity to have dialogue with others too. Maybe you can pass on some additional information &with some websites I have come across lately.

There is an increasing movement in the country, and world, where folks are taking a stand and coming out (if you will) to tell their stories of the ex-Gay experience they have had, some good and some bad. Many of the folks have spent a lot of money; others had years of depression and thoughts of suicide; and some suffered from drug and alcohol abuse because they could not change their orientation. Hopefully, we can save [some] young [men and womens' lives] by avoiding the ex-Gay therapy and [learn to] live life openly and happily, as you have stated in your wonderful article.

The first web site is http://www.beyondexgay.com/. This web site is for folks who have survived ex-Gay ministries. Then, I found http://a_musing.blogspot.com/ by Peterson Toscano. Both of these web sites have given me hope that spirituality and homosexuality can reside together. This next article puts a lot in perspective for me because I have always felt like an outsider (http://indegayforum.org/news/show/31236.html). I have pushed people away because I didn't live up to the "straight world" and felt I would never be able to join in "their" game. This article gives me hope that I too will find love and be able to express it with my friends and family. (This email has been edited for the purpose of confidentiality and space)


Michael: Thank you for your story and for passing along these resources. I hope they will be helpful to women and men in the GLBT community who think that they have to suppress or deny their sexuality.

In your email, you mention the importance of "spirituality". It is true that many men and women feel that they have to give up their spirituality because they are told that it conflicts with their sexual orientation. This is not the case! Spirituality for GLBT men and women is an important part of a healthy, balanced life. A healthy, spiritual practice is an ingredient in dealing with stress, anxiety, relationships and depression. It is also an opportunity to network socially and alleviate loneliness.

Here in Seattle, The Center for Spiritual Living, http://www.spiritualliving.org/, is one of several places GLBT people can go to participate in a spiritual practice. Several organizations are mentioned in the GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association) guide on pages 315-317. The SGN also lists spiritual practitioners and organizations that community members can look into.

For GLBT youth, Lambert House (206-322-2515 x811) is a resource to tap into for support around coming out.

Each individual story of coming out and acceptance is punctuated with pain; yet, laced with strength and courage. I continue to encourage all who are struggling with coming out to find resources and support in their process and to not fall prey to the lies and damage that is inflicted by those who suggest homosexuality can be, "cured". Again, thank you for your email and passing on these resources and I wish you all the best.

Michael,
Your response slash commentary (Ex-Gay therapy' is no solution, SGN, Aug. 17th, 2007) deserves high accolades. I applaud your empathy and your explicit scholar on the subject [of] "Coming Out." I am proud to have served as a mentor/group facilitator with many youth in the past myself. There are many publications for [men and women] available, but one that stands out from all others is Rob Eichberg's, Coming Out: An Act of Love (Dutton publication, 1990). (This email was edited for purposes of confidentiality and space)


Michael: Thank you for passing on this resource. Although I have not had a chance to read it in detail from cover-to-cover, I have briefly skimmed it and it looks like a valuable resource for anyone who is dealing with coming out of the closet. It looks as though the author understands the difficulties and implications that men and women face when accepting and acknowledging their homosexuality and the value in living a healthy life that comes from accepting yourself as you are.

Another wonderful book to read is, The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Dr. Alan Downs (Paperback - May 30, 2006). Obviously, by its title, it is a book that is geared toward Gay men and the pressures we face and the processes we go through in dealing with our sexuality. The vignettes are very good. I have recommended it to many of my Gay clients and, without exception, they have come back and spoken highly of the book and how they related to the book. This is a book that I have read from cover-to-cover and I highly recommend it. Most men will find many parts of the book applicable to them. I know you can find this book at Bailey/Coy Books (206-323-8842) on Broadway Avenue (Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood). The people at Bailey/Coy Books are wonderful and I'm sure they could let you know whether the first book can be ordered.

Thank you for referring this book and for your service to youth. Good strong mentorship is important to all of us and mentors in the GLBT community provide all of us with healthy perspectives and encourage us to better ourselves. This is a key component in coming out and accepting being GLBT.

Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC, can be reached at 206-325-4113, by email at askingmichael@comcast.net or by visiting www.michaelraitt.com.

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