You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'gay'.

Dear Christine, Polite in Pontiac

  • Posted on March 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Dear Christine, I sit on the board of a well known LGBT organization in Metro Detroit and on two or three occasions I have shared an idea I had with a fellow board member only to have that board member, a supposedly good friend of mine, bring that idea to the board, taking full credit for the idea. He has also done that in personal situations; sharing my thoughts and ideas as if he never heard them from me first.  In these situations, I have pretty much been polite and kept my mouth shut, although the last time I shot him a pretty serious WTF look. I have shared other people’s ideas but always give them the credit, and then ask them to share the idea. Am I too polite? It’s been several times now and my patience is wearing thin. Signed Polite in Pontiac Dear Polite, You are too polite!  Group dynamics on an organizational board are similar to the dynamics of our family of origin.  So, perhaps you were polite at home, and that was respected and your family gave you credit for your own ideas without you having to fight to be heard.  Or perhaps you had…

Dear Christine, Befuddled in Brownstown

  • Posted on February 19, 2018 at 10:08 am

Dear Christine

Hello! Is there such a thing as having an androgynous personality? Explain please 🙂 Thank yoooouu! Befuddled in Brownstown

Dear Befuddled,

Yes, there are androgynous people. I know a few people who are androgynous and like passing as both genders or neither. If you look at one of these people, you might not be sure what pronoun to use, she or he, and the person may not help you out on that, as they might like the fact that they don’t fit into any prescribed slot. Sexuality is simpler than a dual system of gay and straight, just as gender is more than male or female. We have brains as well as bodies, and sometimes the experience of the mind is different from the body, and vice versa. Sometimes the bodies are difficult to identify, as an intersex person may have genitalia of both genders. There are seven basic gender identities: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual, asexual, and pansexual, then there is a sexual orientation for each one.

Sometimes people are chimeras, meaning they have more than one genetic code, such as when 2 fraternal twin fetuses combine in the uterus and become one body, but having 2 unique DNA codes, depending on which body part is being checked. There have been women who were genetically unrelated to their children as current cheek swab DNA testing can show. However, other organs or parts of her body do match up with her children, but might not have been checked initially. Also, any woman who has been pregnant has probably absorbed some genetic material from her baby, and if that’s a boy, then she probably has some Y chromosomes present in her body that most women would not have. Remember, female is having XX chromosomes and male is XY. Sometimes there are XXY people as well, which is Klinefelter Syndrome. Our genes and our environment determine our phenotype (physical characteristics) which can vary in different environments. Two identical twins raised in different families may mature differently, for example. All of this is just to explore how we really are unique beings. However you look, whatever you feel, whomever you are attracted to, or not, is really ok. And it can change. And that’s fine. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Stay or Leave in Southgate

  • Posted on November 28, 2016 at 5:58 am

Dear Christine, I keep wondering if its it worth it to stay in this relationship.  My partner, who I’ll call Anna, works constantly!  And then when she does have free time, she’s too tired to do anything fun.  There’s no time for us!  To top it off, Anna can’t stop herself from constantly telling me what to do and how to do everything better. I mean, she corrects me about EVERYthing, like cooking cleaning, singing, dancing, sex, money etc. Anna is a  know-it-all personality and the worst yet, is she never tells me “good job!”  Always, she tells me, I should have done it her way, instead.  I’m going crazy! Signed, Stay or Leave in Southgate Dear Stay or Leave, There’s a lot I don’t know about you and your relationship, like how old you both are and how long you’ve been together.  I’m assuming you are both adults and have been together several years.  That means you both entered into this relationship freely.  And you have been together long enough to know that you are partnered with a smarty-pants.  Commitment doesn’t change personalities, but those characteristics that drew you to her may well be the ones that are pushing…

Torn in Trenton

  • Posted on August 21, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Dear Christine,

I just turned 50 last week and it hit me. I’m finally ready to come out. I’ve led the life I thought I was supposed to for all these years. Married 22 years, two kids who are now 18 and 20 years old, and a successful career in auto sales.  I’ve never cheated, never sought out the gay community until now.  I put in some search words to find out how to handle this and found you. I’m ready to do this but need a push.  How do I do it without hurting the people I love and where do I start?  My plan is to come out at work as well as to my wife and kids. I’m terrified and have no idea how this will play out. 

Thanks, Torn in Trenton

Dear Torn,

Good question.  How do you come out and not hurt the people you love?  I don’t know if that’s possible. It sounds like you have lived your life according to others’ expectations and it isn’t working for you.  You love your family.  But you haven’t been you, who you really are, at your core.

The start is being honest with yourself about who you are and what you are feeling.  Then, you start telling people you trust.  People who can accept you for who you are.  Get some support for yourself as you go through this.  Get into psychotherapy with a gay affirming therapist.  Join a Coming Out group at Affirmations www.goaffirmations.org in Ferndale.  Find people who will listen non-judgmentally and with understanding.  http://www.goaffirmations.org/programs-services/support-discussion-groups.

Perhaps you don’t need a push.  You will know when it is the right time to tell family members.  They will not hurt less if you don’t tell them.  And perhaps some of them have seen this in you all along, or have wondered about you.  It’s a scary time, but give those you love a bit of time and space to deal with this.  You have been struggling through this for a while now, maybe even 22 years or more!  Your family will need support too.  Individual psychotherapy and  family counseling can help, and there are free support from groups such as PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  There is a chapter, PFLAG Detroit www.pflagdetroit.org that meets monthly on the second Sunday at 2 pm in Troy at the Lutheran Church on Crooks Road just north of 16 Mile.  Their website has a page on Our Friends and Allies at http://pflagdetroit.org/Friends_Web_Links.html.  This list may open more doors to support and information for you and your family.

If your wife does not have an inkling, this can be very hard for her.  The hardest is if you are in love with a man and you’ve finally accepted yourself, and you are finally happy.  She could feel rejection, low self worth and find it difficult to be glad for you.  She may feel lied to an betrayed.  She may be understanding and relieved as this piece of information may make sense to her about you and the marriage.

Give your family and friends space and time to adjust.  Encourage them to talk to you and share their experience.  If they can’t share with you, then offer them resources such as PFLAG to assist them in adjusting to your new reality.

I have watched families go through this  situation.  There may be a time of distance, hurt or misunderstanding, but over time, sometimes months, sometimes years, the love can find a way to continue among all of you.  Keep in touch and let me know how your coming out process goes.  Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Orlando: Coping with Trauma

  • Posted on June 13, 2016 at 10:11 am

The mass shooting in Orlando, killing at least 50 of our queer brothers and sisters, injuring 53 more is a horrible, unspeakable trauma for the GLBTQI… community.  I want to share some ways to cope with trauma and tragedy that I am doing. * Take care of yourself:  be alone, if that’s what you need, or be with loved ones.  Get hugs, kisses, cry together, hold each other.  Pride celebrations this month, and candle light vigils and prayer services offer community opportunities. *Grieve however you need to.  Be angry.  Be sad.  Withdraw.  Jump into action.  Cry.  Scream.  Sit quietly.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve. *Focus on what helps you.  Today, I am focusing on the individual people who were senselessly murdered, getting to know their names, who they were, what they were known for.  I am holding each one in my heart and mind.  Meditate on them, pray for them, their families and loved ones, for us. *Ignore those infuriating things you can’t do anything about:  the media, the glorification of the shooter, the  manipulations by politicians, the ignorant and cruel comments you may hear on social media or from people around you. *Breathe, deeply.  Focus…

Terrified in Toledo

  • Posted on April 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Hi Christine,

I’m 22 years old and haven’t come out to my parents yet and I need to. I’m terrified because I know they are anti gay.  That’s why I’ve waited so long.  I’m trying to decide the best way to do it.  Should it be in a public place?  Should I have a friend with me for moral support?  Should I email them while I spend the weekend out of town?  Yes, I’m that nervous.  I don’t want a scene that I’m afraid is coming. Is there a good way to break this news to them that will be less shocking for them and feel safe for me?   I hope you answer, thanks,

Signed, Terrified in Toledo

Dear Terrified,
I feel for you, wanting to come out and just be yourself, but your parents are anti-gay.  Are you living with them now?  Are you financially dependent on them?  Is there a risk that they will kick you out or disown you, take away your transportation, cutting you off financially?  If those are possibilities, make sure you have a safe place to live, even in temporarily.  And make sure your support network of friends know what your plans are and will be able to be there for you.

I can’t really assess the best approach for you, as I’ve never met you or your family.  But I encourage you to trust your own gut feelings here.  Do what makes you feel safest.  If going out of town for a weekend to let them discover and digest an email feels right, then do that.  That will minimize a scene, as you won’t be physically in the same place when they find out and they will have to process it some before you see them again.

Meeting in public, like in a restaurant or a park, can be helpful to minimize the risk of an outburst. However, some people will still make a scene.  If you think they might make a scene, it might be wise to have a friend with you for your support.  Make sure you have your own transportation (or a friend’s) to and from that public place too, so you aren’t stranded.

Some friends of mine, Mike and Jan Neubecker, have a gay son, Lee.  He finally came out to his anti-gay, Christian parents by leaving a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays  http://www.pflagdetroit.org/) brochure in his dad’s sock drawer.  Mike, the dad, found the brochure after Lee had come home from college one weekend, and he flipped.  He and Jan tried to get Lee into reparative therapy, to “make him straight” but finally realized that wasn’t working.  They joined PFLAG and educated themselves.  They learned that their son was gay because that’s who he is.  It wasn’t their fault as parents.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault.  No one is going to burn in hell.  They had grieving to do, because they had assumptions such as they thought their son would never marry and there would never be grandchildren.

Well, now Mike and Jan and proud grandparents of a sister and brother that Lee and his husband adopted several years back.  They are a close family and travel together and have fun on holidays.  Mike and Jan became active in PFLAG Detroit, and later founded PFLAG Downriver for many years.  They have retired, and have moved further down the river, but are still actively involved in regional PFLAG activities and agitating for understanding and knowledge about gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.  He has been a part of the PFLAG Speakers Bureau for years.  In fact, Mike has taken a Methodist Lay Preaching class, so he could talk to churches about his son and the importance of love and acceptance in families and in the church.  Then he took a comedy class at The Royal Oak  Comedy Castle.  He’s got a wonderful set I laughed through on his graduation night performance.

Your parents might not be ready for you to refer them to the love, support and education that PFLAG meetings provide, but PFLAG will be there, ready for them anytime.  Sometimes parents go into the closet when their son or daughter comes out.  You’ve been struggling with this information about yourself for a while, so give them some time and space to process all of this.  Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes months or years, but many many families come around to loving and accepting their gay or lesbian child, once they stop blaming themselves or fearing you might be headed to hell, or worrying that they’ll never have grandkids.

Write again, please, and let me know how your reveal goes.  The bottom line, is take your time and do this when you feel emotionally safe, financially prepared and ready to deal with whatever happens.  Sometimes it’s better to do it and deal with whatever happens, rather than wait and wonder.  Trust yourself in this matter.
Take care,
Christine C Cantrell, PhD,

Psychologist

 

Labeled and Mislabled in Livonia

  • Posted on April 11, 2016 at 5:48 am

Dear Christine,

I have a question. Do you have anything to say about the misdiagnosis or misclassification of a bisexual person as  either heterosexual or homosexual? I dated a small amount of women and had a small amount of sexual experience with women, but it has always felt much better to me thinking about men than women.  I went to therapy because of depression and family problems, I first presented myself as heterosexual, then bisexual, then homosexual.  I consider my self as a “Top.”  The therapists told me gay top men are rare and you are not officially gay until you went all the way with a person with your own sex. I have terrible experiences with psychiatrists forcing me to like women, saying as a top I should be heterosexual. I would not say have zero attraction to women, sometimes I can be very attracted to them but I have always felt better and more comfortable about men in a sexual way. My first sexual experience with a woman was at 20 something, my first sexual experiences with men started at 30 something. I want to lead a homosexual lifestyle that values monogamy and integrity. I might date women as small amount (but I never want to have sex with a woman in the traditional way). At most I could give a sensual massage to a woman.  I want to lead a homosexual lifestyle, I still call myself bisexual but for most part I would rather avoid women sexually.

Signed Labeled and Mislabeled in Livonia,

Dear Labeled,
It sounds like you have been through a lot of therapy, and maybe not the most affirming, helpful types.  Since homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are all healthy, normal ways of being, I prefer not to “diagnose” or “misdiagnose” anyone’s sexuality.  Sexual identity is very personal, and each person  expresses themselves uniquely.  Some people only have same sex partners but do not take on the label of gay or lesbian or homosexual.  That’s understandable, because labels are political things, and if you use a label, it is notifying other people about an aspect of you that you want them to understand, and if you use “gay” they will understand you to prefer same sex partners.  If you use “straight” they will expect you to be a heterosexual.  If you are more comfortable with bisexuality, which assumes some openness to both sexes, fine!  Be you, completely you!

In my humble opinion, being a “top” or a “bottom” doesn’t make you homosexual, or not!  What you feel and what you are comfortable with is who and what you are, not a position. Years ago, I had a gay couple come to see me and they told me that they were concerned that I would not see them as a couple because they did not live together.  Their last therapist told them they had to cohabitate or not be able to say they were in a committed relationship.  This was obviously long before gay marriage became legal.  There are lots of couples that are in committed relationships (same sex, opposite sex) but don’t live together for a variety of reasons.  Where you live, what position you prefer, none of that really matters to anyone except you and the person you are in relationship with!

If a therapist or a psychiatrist is forcing you to “like women” I’d encourage you to get a second or even a third opinion.  A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or licensed counselor worth their salt ought to be open minded enough to help you discover who you are, not try to make you fit other ideal of theirs.  You are hiring these folks to help you, not to make things worse for you!  Pick a therapist who gives you the space and safety to explore who you are without pressure and without judgement.

Remember to be honest with yourself, first and foremost.  If you are attracted to someone and want to have a romantic relationship with that person, present yourself honestly with that person.  If you want monogamy and integrity, make sure you tell that person exactly what you need and expect.  Find out if that person is looking for the same qualities and characteristics you have.  And enjoy!  And have fun!

Feel free to write again with more questions.  I hope this has helped you.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD,
Psychologist

Hopeless in Huntington Woods

  • Posted on March 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Dear Christine,  Eight months ago, a girl I loved dumped me.

She was all I ever wanted.

But I wasn’t what she wanted.

I tried not talking to her, dating other girls, having sex with women I barely knew, throwing myself into work and hobbies, etc. etc. I tried being her friend. I tried being her acquaintance. I tried hating her. I tried everything. I still love her, and it kills me that she doesn’t love me, or want me, and has made it clear that it will never change.

I’m a hideous, fat, stupid ******* bytch who no one will love. The only girl who could, who accepted me as I was, didn’t like what she saw.

I’m considering three options:

1) Staying forever single, learning to be OK with that.

2) Try and win her back, someday, somehow.

3) Shutting down completely emotionally.

Hopeless in Huntington Woods

Dear Hopeless, So, it sounds like you’re hurting really badly from this breakup. Guess what? Life isn’t over! It doesn’t end because one person wasn’t ready, willing or able to see the beauty and love that is you and are in you. Everyone’s ideas of who is attractive and who is not, is different. You don’t have to accept that her decision to move on is a judgment on whether or not anyone else will accept you! You do need to reclaim your power, and love yourself, see the beauty, uniqueness, love and quirks that are all yours, and you need to be able to spend time with yourself, appreciating who you really are. Frankly, you deserve someone who loves you for YOU, and if she doesn’t, keep looking! Staying single forever is way too long a time! There’s lots of other potential girlfriends out there, who also have been dumped and don’t want to beg the dumper to take them back. You don’t need her! You need you, including your emotions. See if you can find 5 things about yourself that you like or appreciate, and focus on those. If you can’t think of a single thing you like about yourself, then think about 3 people you like or love (not her for this thought experiment), and then think of 3 characteristics that those people have the you like about them. Guess what? The only way you can recognize those positive traits in others is because you also have them! So, open up to yourself, and start seeing that your ex is but one person in the 6 billion plus here on earth. There has to be AT LEAST one more out there for you! Love you first.

Sincerely,
Christine C. Cantrell, PhD,
Licensed Psychologist

Pity Party in Plymouth

  • Posted on February 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Dear Christine,

Hi, I have been reading your advice and it all sounds good. I decided to write for some myself. I am getting older and I feel completely out of the scene I am overweight and feel unattractive. I have been single for six years now and miss having a relationship. I also live in the burbs and feel so disconnected. so I am feeling kinda disenfranchised, pathetic and lonely. Okay enough of the pity party but seriously how do you get back in the game with out looking too much like a goof (although I kinda like that look) I don’t want to be 80 and alone! not that I am that old yet but it could happen.

Pity Party in Plymouth

 

Dear Pity Party in Plymouth,

The best way to get back in the scene is to start liking yourself. Find things you like to do with you, and then find friends who can do those things with you, sharing in the fun you’re having with yourself. Meet new friends through activities and events that bring people together. Check out the listings of what to do on GOAL, and other gay/lesbian websites. Drop by Affirmations in Ferndale, join a softball league or golf outing. Do things that you enjoy and you are bound to find people that also enjoy these events and will find you easy and fun to be around. Look for friends first, not a relationship first. Once you’ve asked a friend enough questions to find out if they fit your needs, your non-negotiables, perhaps a relationship will follow. Don’t force it, don’t be desperate, but instead come to enjoy your own company and find interests in the community that will get you out and mingling with other people with similar interests and values.

Christine Cantrell, PhD, LP

Fertile in Farmington

  • Posted on January 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

Dear Christine,  

Hi there, My partner and I have been together 8 years–our anniversary is this week– Yeah!!  Celebration time!!!  We’re ready to start our family, and decided to go the “known donor” route so the child would be able to have some awareness of who their biological father is… Here’s the problem: none of the men we’ve approached (and don’t misunderstand, they’ve all been pretty together, gay-positive men) have been able to “handle the idea”. They say things like “How could I handle having a child, but not really being a father,” or “I would feel too responsible to the child.”  Geez, where are all the totally irresponsible men I dated before I figured out who I really am? They were only too happy to let ME worry about contraception back then. Why have the rules changed now? Talk about irony. We spend half our fertile lives before we’re mature enough to know who we are and what we want trying NOT to get pregnant and the other half trying desperately trying to. Sometimes, life sucks!

Signed, Fertile in Farmington

Dear Fertile in Farmington,

Congratulations on your readiness to start a family! Yeah, the timing isn’t so great for you, looking for a “together, gay positive man” to donate some sperm and be known to the child that results. Apparently, in the time you matured in your lesbian relationship, those “irresponsible” men have grown up too! Respect these men for taking your request seriously and sincerely. If you are going to have a “known” father for your child, he definitely needs to be on board with the whole fathering part, even if he is only known from a distance. Many men have strong feelings about wanting to be known or never known by their offspring. I heard a BBC story on the radio a few years ago about a sperm donor who was discovered by his 15 year old son several years back. Apparently the sperm donor donated sperm to help an infertile couple have children, much as you or I might donate blood to help someone else we’ll never meet. However, as the son grew up, he became curious about his parentage, and had access to the Internet, and was able to get his DNA checked, and realized that there were few other people in the UK with the particular markers of his DNA. He started calling people with the surname that was most common with these markers, and pretty soon found his sperm donor father. The father couldn’t have been more shocked! He had no idea he had a child out there, and never ever expected or wanted any contact with that child. Some agencies will help you get sperm from a donor, and a year after the child is born, they will contact the donor and see if he would like to be known. He is aware that this policy before donating, so he won’t be caught off guard as this British man was. Check for one of these sorts of agencies to see if you can get a ‘known” donor. Whatever way you choose to bring a child into your family, I wish you the best. Good luck to you both.

Christine Cantrell