"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence." -Frederick Douglass
Are You Struggling to Figure Out the Best Way to Live As Your Authentic Self?
Do you have questions about your gender identity and/or sexual orientation or just feel like you don’t fit into a particular “category”? Maybe you fear being rejected or alienated when your friends, family members and coworkers find out you’re attracted to people of the same gender. You might wonder if people could handle the fact that you experience your gender differently than your body or appearance might suggest. Perhaps you feel shaken, hurt or confused after conversion therapy. Do you have a clear sense of yourself but worry about sharing your true experiences with others and allowing them to really know you? Do you wish you could find healing, self-acceptance and confidence in who you are?
Understanding our gender identity and sexual orientation is a key developmental task for all of us. But, when you don’t fit into the typical gender binary that we are presented with or worry that an authentic expression of your sexuality could pose a threat to your spiritual beliefs, personal beliefs or community expectations, this can be a very daunting task. You may feel tired of denying who you are or overwhelmed by the constant state of questioning you feel trapped in. Maybe you are exhausted by the feeling that you are playing a role and unable to embrace the amazing person that you are, just as you are.
If You Are Struggling to Understand and Accept Yourself, You're Not Alone.
The truth is, there are large communities of gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual and transgender people who have walked down this very road and confronted similar challenges that come with identifying outside the majority. In fact, although our society often focuses on binary categories, such as men or women and gay or straight, everyone experiences their gender and sexual orientation differently. We all fall somewhere on the continuum, and very few people are on either extreme end of the spectrum. Many people find that their expression of their sexuality is fluid and may shift or change at different times in their lives.
Not everyone faces a soul-searching process of uncovering or coming to terms with their authentic self, but I would argue that this process is an opportunity to find a profound love and acceptance of yourself. LGBT folks have higher rates of depression, suicidal thinking or action and anxiety than their heterosexual or cisgender peers. These issues often stem from a lack of self-acceptance, social acceptance or acceptance from key relationships, such as those with parents or other family members, because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Those who identify outside the heteronormative paradigm continue to face prejudice, discrimination and oppression despite the fact that our society is evolving in its understanding of the LGBT community. Thankfully, with help and support, you can share your experience and begin to develop the inner strength and confidence you need to live your most authentic, fulfilling life.
LGBT Counseling Can Help You Love Yourself Well
Everyone has their own unique experience of themselves. The work we do together will be collaborative and largely directed by you. I will offer you a safe, nonjudgmental and compassionate environment for you to explore your sexuality and experiences you've had related to your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Coming to a place of self-acceptance is the first order of business in living a fulfilling, authentic existence. I will support you in finding the strength and courage to live your own truth. Your will have an understanding, compassionate ally in me.
Your sexuality is not an issue of pathology or a mental health problem or something that requires treatment. But, it is not uncommon for people who have internal conflict about their sexual identity to be burdened by depression or anxiety that interferes with their ability to function in the way that they would like to. These are concerns that LGBT counseling can help you navigate. You don’t need to face these painful experiences alone.
Together we will explore the barriers that stand in your way of living authentically and embracing your unique self. This may include identifying subversive homophobic messages that you've received over the years or processing more overt, direct anti-gay harassment that likely wounded your soul and sent you further into hiding. I will provide you with a safe environment to uncover these many layers that have contributed to burying your true expression of yourself and loving yourself for exactly who you are.
Many people in the LGBT community have found their way through this difficult process and are now living authentic, fulfilling lives. This is a difficult process that often results in personal growth, self-acceptance and loving partnerships. This can be your story too.
You may believe that LGBT counseling can help you feel at peace with your identity, but still have questions or concerns…
Is LGBT counseling necessary? I don't see how therapy can change me.
The goal is not to change you - the goal is to help you embrace yourself. You are exactly who you are meant to be. Spending time understanding and gaining insight into yourself will only serve you. Therapy can provide you with the opportunity to grow in self-compassion and find acceptance of who you are. Living with feelings of shame and guilt about such a profound part of your identity is exhausting at best. It’s time to start loving yourself for exactly who you are.
I’m afraid of what I might find out about myself.
The fact that you're reading this tells me that you're at least beginning to find the courage to embark on this journey of self-discovery. Maybe you're at the point where it feels scarier to not face the truth, or the cost of burying your questions has begun eroding your quality of life. I know that you have everything you need inside of you to do this, but you are the only one that can determine when the time is right. I'll be here when you're ready.
I want to talk to somebody, but I’m not sure I can afford it.
It’s true that therapy is an investment, and you are worth it. Although I am not an in-network provider for insurance carriers I am happy to provide you with the necessary paperwork to file an out-of-network claim. This is important emotional work for you to do and prioritizing it financially will be well worth it in the long-term.
With LGBT Counseling, You Can Find Healing and Empowerment
Making the effort to initiate the first contact is often the hardest step. Give me a call at 303.941.4256 for a free 15-20 minute phone consultation to see if working together feels right. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about LGBT counseling and my practice. You can also join my mailing list for my monthly newsletter and blog posts.
Leslie is a talented, insightful therapist who quickly connects with her clients. She grasps what the real issues are, and offers compassion, understanding, and real ways to move forward. If a client is seeking to understand what is going on in their life in order to feel better, I highly recommend connecting with Leslie!