This is a collection of all of my Blog Posts.
I was born and raised in NJ. In the 90’s I moved to San Francisco. In the 90’s it was a very different time for LGBTQ+ people. On the East Coast, you needed to be closeted in most places. The word transgender was never spoken and non-binary was not a word most people identified with. You were closeted and butch or femme. Moving to San Francisco was a move for freedom. Freedom to be who you were without being constantly judged or scared. Not to say there was no discrimination there but there is power and safety in numbers. You were careful but not constantly afraid.
Times changed. We got the right to marriage. We began to acknowledge transgender people and non-binary people and accept them into the community. Not without pain. And wrongs committed. The overall umbrella got larger and as legal rights came more and more people came out. For a quick minute after Federal Marriage Equality, it felt almost safe. At least for white LGBTQ+ people. Then the culture wars increased in force. LGBTQ+ people again became an open target. Books about us were (and are) banned. LGBTQ+ people, especially Trans people, are getting accused of grooming children. Doctors and therapists that help the community are getting death threats.
In the bubble, it still felt safe enough. I always knew the community I lived in would step up to anti-LGBTQ+ bullying.
At the end of 2021, I decided to return to the East Coast. That was a huge transition. One of the factors in thinking about where to land was will the place I land be safe for me? PA is not the Bay Area but would it be accepting of my gender non-conformity and Gay identity?
When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how little an issue being Gay was for our neighbors. It was a huge relief. Then this happened.
A local church had some inclusive signs that were torn down. Then they posted a rainbow flag. That was also torn down and feces was put on it. This event was shared in the local Facebook groups. People were upset for sure. The disconnect for me was that although people were upset no one has done anything (the exception being the church which put up a new flag and published the event). It appears that people think their moral outrage will make the neighborhood safer for the LGBTQ+ community. A nearby community had a similar thing happen. Every store owner promptly put out a pride flag in solidarity. That shows that people care. Right now it is always important to send the message that people care.
What frustrates me the most about straight people is that many of them just don’t get it. I have some great friends that do. They make an effort to get it. But most people don’t understand the effects of the constant aggressions that we are coping with. Every day there is a case where an LGBTQ+ book is banned or teachers are told they can’t put up a pride flag or a person is fired for being who they are. Yes in 18 states and 5 territories you can be fired for being gay. The question I want to ask straight people is “Has your marriage ever been legally overturned?” Because mine has. And given current conditions in this country, it could be again. In the Bay Area, it felt like a safe bubble. Here I drive through the county and see signs for Republican candidate for Governor that I believe is truly dangerous. I cannot even imagine what laws he would pass in PA if elected that would harm LGBTQ+ people. It is hard for sure.
For me, the solution is always action-oriented. I volunteer for the local Democratic Committee, I have started escorting at a local Planned Parenthood, and I got a job to help with election preparation by delivering supplies the weekend before the election. I will volunteer outside the polls on election day. I am happy to do my part to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, POC, women’s rights, and overall democracy. It feels good to be in a place where the work I am doing can make a difference. At the same time, it is challenging to be in a place that is so different. With people that seem so well-intentioned but are still oblivious.
I have been writing this post for a week now. I have walked away and returned several times struggling with what was I trying to say. What I want is for people to understand how hard these times are for marginalized people. I want the people that are struggling to know that many of us are struggling and you are not alone. I want others to pay more attention and when things happen in your community to speak up. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. I understand feelings of overwhelm or that whatever you do is not enough. And, indeed, what you do is not enough. But what you do along with what I do along with what others are doing matters. It helps people. And change only happens when we are engaged and fighting.
It is well-documented right now that there is a mental health crisis and a therapist shortage in the US. Add in the lack of trauma-informed therapists and gender-affirming therapists and it can be impossible for people to get the help they need.
As someone committed to both helping people reduce the effects of trauma on their lives and a therapist committed to providing affirming care to LGBTQA+ I want to help more people. However, as a therapist, I am limited as to how many clients I can effectively work with during a week using the 45-50 minute session model.
As an EMDR Consultant who provides consultation to others providing EMDR, I have heard many recent stories about how longer EMDR sessions have been super effective for clients. Weighing this along with the need for more therapy slots I have decided to transition to an EMDR-intensive model. All new clients will be for EMDR Intensives. This will allow me to see and help more people. It also allows me to work with a client on one specific topic or issue and be laser-focused on it. This model also helps those who cannot commit to the time or expense of ongoing weekly therapy.
I will do the work via Tele-Health which means clients can get help while in the comfort of their own homes. They can have their pets or weighted blanket with them or on them while doing the EMDR. In my work, I will do an extensive assessment. Each client gets a workbook where they can answer questions, fill out some assessments, and begin to formulate their Intensive Goals. I will then do a 90-minute assessment session. This allows us to get the goals and to do some resourcing. Resourcing is establishing a plan if a client becomes overwhelmed during or after processing. Then we jump into 1-3 2.5-hour sessions. We do these within a week or two depending on schedule and client desires. We end with a 45-minute session where we review progress and I can give any referrals needed, set up future treatment goals, or help the client integrate the changes they have made.
Any client can get a free 15-minute consultation to discuss to determine whether or not EMDR Intensives are a good intervention for them. I can do adjunct therapy if you have a therapist already and just want to focus on one stuck point.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org today to set up an appointment for the free consultation.
I am writing this post from my deeply personal place and the opinions expressed here are my own. I speak as a white person with many privileges.
What do I want Non-LGBTQ+ people to know and to do.
Pay Attention to LGBTQ+ issues
You don’t need to know or understand everything. But have a basic understanding of what rights LGBTQ+ people have and which they don’t. Be aware of what rights are being attacked and removed. The Supreme Court has stated (Thomas) that they are going after gay marriage, the privacy of sex, and birth control (Obergfell, Lawrence, and Griswold). You know who has known this for years. LGBTQ+ people. We have been saying it. But many Non-LGBTQ+ people have not been listening. I don’t have the time or the energy to be educating people on this. In my mind, if you cared we would already know what was happening. I have plenty of people in my life that do.
Understand and Validate Our Feelings
My primary current emotion is rage. There can also be depression and sadness and anxiety mixed in. I deserve space for all of that. Let me have my feelings with you listening or validating them. Don’t try and make me feel better. You can’t except by listening. Most Non-LGBTQ+ people don’t know what it is like to have a right given or taken away by the courts (unless you are of color and then you know for sure). I got married in 2004 in San Francisco. It was an amazing experience. Something I never expected in my lifetime. It got overturned by the courts. Not unexpected but still devastating. More devastating was 2008. I got married in the time frame between when CA legalized marriage and Prop 8 overturned it. From 2008 until 2015 when Obergfell was ruled on I was married in CA but not in the eyes of the federal government. Try filing those taxes. It was devastating. For weeks after the election, I looked at everyone I passed on the street and wondered did you vote against my civil rights? At the time, straight people in the Bay Area were shocked it passed. Gay people were not. We know.
Also, I love when I hear my Non-LGBTQ+ friends and family express rage at the attacks. Sometimes it feels like we are all alone in this.
Do Something to Support Us
Give money to causes, challenge transphobia or homophobia when you hear it, put your pronouns everywhere you can, vote like our lives depend on it, post supportive things on social media, tell us you love us and that you have our backs, and mean it. But do something.
Understand Our Trauma and How it Affects Us
Every LGBTQ+ person has trauma from being part of a marginalized community. That is in addition to the normal life traumas they have. I am a white privileged person who lived for many years in the Bay Area. I have faced being called derogatory names, told I was in the wrong bathroom or glared at in the bathroom, had a negative word scratched into my car, had a house where the deed said I was unmarried when I was married, had friends and families not validate my relationship and marriage, had one marriage overturned and one that was in an in-between state for 7 years (married in CA but not federally). This is what I can come up with off the top of my head. Imagine being in an unsafe area of the country or being trans-identified or being Black or of color. It is never-ending. For those of us that are older, we remember having to be in the closet. We were scared of having any job that involved working with children because we could be accused of being abusive. We all have many stories. Those traumatic stories affect how we move through the world. Understand that. Never invalidate us by saying it’s not that bad or things won’t really happen. Because they are happening. As we predicted.
This is a really tough time for LGBTQ+ people. The overturning of Roe is devastating to this country and we also see what is coming next. We are often not okay. We need Non-LGBTQ+ people to step up their game if they haven’t already. We cannot fix this on our own.
I had a list of topics to write this month’s blog. Then yesterday happened. There is one topic. The attacks on marginalized people. Right now, it is women. This means that it will affect women of color and women without resources the most. We also see attacks on LGB people, massive attacks on transgender people, and ongoing attacks on people of color. If Roe V Wade is overturned we know the next issues on the agenda are birth control, gay marriage, interracial marriage, and medical privacy. There will be no such thing as an established court precedent anymore.
Many of us have seen this coming for years. We have been gaslighted and told we were overreacting. Roe V Wade was a settled law. It would never be overturned. The right has been laser-focused on this issue since Roe in 1973 and have finally begun to reach its goal. Many of us have been feeling this rage for a long time, it gets amplified every time we face another loss. I am rageful at everyone who denied this was happening, who chose not to vote because it didn’t matter anyway, and to politicians who have failed on their promises. I am less rageful at people who support the overturn because they have been honest about their intentions for years. This should not be a surprise.
Why am I as a therapist being so vocal about this issue? Shouldn’t I be a blank slate for a client to work through their pain? No. That is not what I as a social worker believe. I believe in social justice. I am part of marginalized communities as are my clients. For me to be silent in the face of this is to be complicit in it. I don’t raise the issue in therapy but if/when my client does I am there with them validating their rage and the parts underneath the rage that are filled with sadness and feelings of powerless and everything else that is there. My clients need to be safe with me and part of that is knowing that I understand how marginalized people are treated in this country. My experiences are different from theirs but I get how painful it can be.
In an online therapist group, the question was asked Would you tell your client your feelings about this issue if they asked? And some of us said our clients do not need to ask. They already know where I stand. Especially, since 2016 when politics became a constant topic in therapy. Then COVID when therapists were experiencing the same trauma as clients. One of the most effective interventions I had during the shutdown was to say it’s not just you to my clients. At the time many of us felt like our feelings were just ours as a result of not being exposed to many other people to check in about this.
I have to be honest with my clients about my parts that are activated with what is going on in this country. I don’t ask them to take care of me. I don’t tell them how I deal with it because that is mine to manage. I do model that I am activated also. That is who I am as a therapist and as a person. I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. I am figuring out how I will move forward and what actions I need and must take. Probably a combination of self-care and activism. A combination that may shift back and forth over these next months until the next election. What I won’t do as a therapist or as a person is be silent. I will scream and yell with every bit of energy I have. And I will tell my clients that when they ask.
I am writing this post knowing full well Covid is not over. However, it does sometimes appear like we are in a bizarro world where not only is it over but we are acting like it never even happened. This attitude minimizes the trauma most people experienced in the last two years.
Many kids had losses from missing in-person school. Many people lost loved ones. Others were ill and are living with the fallout from that. Everyone is living with the effects of having a life-threatening illness hangover their families’ heads for over a year and the loss of not being able to be connected with loved ones in the usual manner.
In a country that already had a pretty severe mental health crisis, it got worse during the last two years. And while it got worse, there was even less access to care. Unless you could pay out of pocket, many people were out of luck finding a therapist with openings.
The other day, I found myself laughing, at a social media post I made in April 2020, about an interaction I had with a loved one about not touching a package without disinfecting it first. Thinking now how silly we were back then believing we had to Lysol everything or leave it in the yard for a week before it came into the house. At a time when we were not even consistently wearing masks. Laughter can be a way of coping with the trauma but it also can be a way of distancing from it or ignoring that it happened. For me, it feels like coping and distancing. This trauma has not just lifted because we can be out and about again.
We are all still adjusting to the changes in our lives such as where we work or if we had to reduce work hours to caretake for children or parents. Much of life is still online and will continue to be, for better or worse. We may have some family estrangements from how different members coped with the pandemic, whether they got vaccinated.
How do we move on? Especially since we aren’t clear on whether there could be another dangerous variant in the future. When we now know that everything can change in a matter of weeks.
Now we have to move forward the way we have since March 2020. Do the best that we can each day. Some people will bounce back faster than others. People have different levels of resiliency and experienced different levels of trauma. Some are still feeling cautious and overwhelmed. Some immunocompromised people don’t have an opportunity for a different life because they will continue to need to be careful in a world that wants to throw precautions in the trash. The rest of us just do it step by step. Maybe we learn to not freak out every time our nose is runny. Maybe, we start venturing back into environments where there are more people. Maybe, we liked being home all the time, and want to keep living that way. The most important thing is to try to listen to ourselves and try and follow our inner wisdom. A positive for many during the shutdown was the reduction of overscheduling. Can we keep that up or do we return to filling every minute of every day?
It all seems like so much. Because indeed, it is so much. Hopefully, as time goes on it will feel easier. Certainly, with the other crises in the world, it can feel indulgent to be stuck on the pandemic. But new crises do not resolve the past trauma and in fact, can make them feel even bigger. I encourage people to keep any good habits/routines they picked up during shut down. Like those walks. Or regular video chats with friends. Finally, just continue to allow yourself to have your good and bad days without overanalyzing either. It has been a tough long two years. We need time to process that.
One of the things I hear often is that someone is reluctant to come to therapy because things are just not bad enough for that. My question is why does it have to be VERY BAD to ask for help. Why not seek help when things are just hard? Our culture sends this pull-up by the bootstraps mentality. The message is it is “weak” to ask for help. We must solve things on our own. Turning to a professional can be looked at as necessary only for a level of distress that is severe and debilitating.
My question to that is why? Why would we put ourselves in the position of suffering for a certain length of time rather than reach out for help? The longer we suffer the harder it is to shift the pain. Seeking therapy when things are just hard is the time to do it. Get support as soon as you can. Utilize your other supports systems also. Tell your trusted people what is going on. I suspect when things are hard many of us crawl into ourselves. We don’t want to be vulnerable or look weak or feel failed. Part of that is buying into what I call the social media lives of our friends. Meaning most of us don’t post about our hard stuff on social media. We post about the happy moments. It can be easy for people who are struggling to think that they are the only ones having any particular struggle. That is never true. I know when I became more vulnerable in telling my closest people my struggles I found most of them had experienced something like them. By a certain age, most of us have experienced grief, depression, and/or anxiety. When we normalize those experiences it validates everyone who has them.
I understand it is an act of bravery to be vulnerable when you are overwhelmed and have big feelings. However, if you find the people that validate you it will allow you to relax some and cope with whatever the issues are.
Therapists are here to walk with you through your struggle. If you find one that is a good match for you, they can help you address your struggles and feel less alone with them. And you don’t have to worry about being too much or being boring or not having a big enough problem for a therapist. We are trained to handle it all.
Let us normalize being open and vulnerable with our people, supporting them, and encouraging people to get help when things are hard.