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Dear Christine, A Reader in Royal Oak

  • Posted on November 5, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Hi Dr. Christine, My partner and I have been together 19 years and overall we’re both happy together. Lately, though, I noticed she is asking me to pay the utility bills she always pays, saying she has no money. I pay a set, agreed upon amount for rent and living expenses, and we both do the chores and shopping. She does the upkeep and maintenance on the house, which is in her name only. She was burned in a prior relationship and she has always said she will not ever consider adding me to the deed. I’m confused because she has a good job and makes more money than I do, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t have money for the bills she’s used to paying regularly. I don’t think she’s gambling or using drugs, but I can’t figure out what is going on. Any suggestions? A Reader in Royal Oak. Dear Reader in Royal Oak, You raise several important issues. We gays and lesbians do not have access to the legal rights that married people get through their wedding license, such as joint home ownership or rights of survivorship to a house, should the owning partner die. We…

Dear Christine, Susannah in Southfield

  • Posted on September 10, 2018 at 10:02 am

Dear Christine, I can’t believe I’m writing for advice, but I think the time has come. I have been intimately involved with my lover for two years. She has been in a relationship with another woman for eight years. Needless to say, I am the other woman in her life. I am at the point where I want to end our relationship. My problem is I don’t know how. We started out as friends and have had so many fun times together I’m scared of losing that. I don’t want to hurt her, but I am mature and wise enough to know the entire situation seems to be a lost cause. My lover tells me I am trying to put a time limit on when we will be together, but after two years I feel I have the right to know what the future holds for me but there are no answers. Susannah in Southfield Dear Susannah, I think we’ve found a theme this summer: honesty and boundaries. You have put yourself in a relationship full of drama and lies, which may lead to a committed relationship, which would probably be full of trust issues, given how she’s cheating on…

Dear Christine, A Reader in Rochester

  • Posted on July 9, 2018 at 10:12 am

Hi Dr. Christine, My partner and I have been together 19 years and overall we’re both happy together. Lately, though, I noticed she is asking me to pay the utility bills she always pays, saying she has no money. I pay a set, agreed upon amount for rent and living expenses, and we both do the chores and shopping. She does the upkeep and maintenance on the house, which is in her name only. She was burned in a prior relationship and she has always said she will not ever consider adding me to the deed. I’m confused because she has a good job and makes more money than I do, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t have money for the bills she’s used to paying regularly. I don’t think she’s gambling or using drugs, but I can’t figure out what is going on. Any suggestions? A Reader in Rochester. Dear Reader: You raise several important issues. We gays and lesbians do not have access to the legal rights that married people get through their wedding license, such as joint home ownership or rights of survivorship to a house, should the owning partner die. We also cannot get half…

Dear Christine, Jeff in Jackson

  • Posted on June 11, 2018 at 9:03 am

Dear Christine, I have been hanging out with this guy for about 6 weeks.  We get together about twice a week for dinner and movie at home or sometime a date out or an event.  We really enjoy each other and I love the cozy intimate evenings at home just watching TV and cuddling on the sofa.  We started out agreeing that it would be casual as neither of us felt we were in the right place to start something serious.  So, besides the 2 times a week we hang out together there is little if any communication.  I have no idea how he is feeling and I am afraid to let him know that I am starting to feel a lot.  It’s just so easy when we’re together at home and sexually, it is the best ever.  I don’t think I have ever felt this strong about anyone.  It feels like we are really a couple, but the time between visits, it feels like he’s a million miles away.  I don’t want it to end but at some point I want to tell him my feelings.  Should I wait and enjoy this and maybe give him time to start…

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