Why ‘genderqueer’ was the best thing to happen to lesbians
A friend of my partner and me invited us to a concert a couple of weeks ago. I’m not typically much for concerts. The crowds, lack of seating and overpriced drinks generally cause me to prefer other forums for live entertainment; however, this particular friend is in her 60s and came out as a lesbian-identified trans woman last year after 40-something years of upper-class male heteronormativity.
Needless to say, when this particular type of friend asks you to go to a Chris Pureka concert, you say yes. For those of you who aren’t lesbians, Pureka is your quintessential lesbian, guitar-toting indie folk singer. To give you a bit more perspective, I last saw her perform about 10 years ago in someone’s living room in Mount Airy.
In the aftermath of tragedy
When our editor asked me to write something for this week’s paper on the tragedy in Orlando, I was immediately struck by the anxiety of trying to decide the absolute right things to say. Like so many others, I felt compelled to express my immense feelings of grief and sadness but, because my hope is to offer valuable information, I quickly moved beyond that idea to a whole slew of topics, all of which were seemingly equal in value to the next one. I asked myself, What are the perfect words to say in the aftermath of the untimely deaths of 49, mostly young, LGBT people?
Eventually, I realized that there are no perfect words. What has happened can’t be mended by a series of words on paper, and certainly it can’t take away the pain that we all are feeling. Instead, my meager hope is simply that these words will encourage all of us to take care of ourselves during this very difficult time.
The chemistry of love
Love is one of the most important elements of our human existence. It is vastly written about in novels and in poems, is sung about in all sorts of music genres, is the topic of many movies and serves as central inspiration for art of various forms. It compels some of the most intense emotions and is perhaps the most sought-after experience in the course of a lifetime. But, what is it that makes love quite this important?
There are some obvious reasons that love is such a point of focus. For instance, no one wants to experience loneliness, and having a partner to experience new things with is enjoyable. In fact, there are probably thousands of reasons that can be cited to try to explain why love matters so much, but it turns out that the primary reason relates to our brains. Love causes the brain to have a whole array of reactions that explain why guys like Shakespeare spent the better part of their careers portraying the pain and strife of love: It’s biological.
I’m anxious, you’re anxious, everybody’s anxious
Every single adult human is the product of an innumerable amount of factors. Genetics, predisposition, parents, childhood, siblings, friendships, heartbreaks, accomplishments and failures are just a few of the elements that contribute to who we are and how we function in the world.
Due to the complex nature of our development, there are many opportunities for things to go awry and negatively contribute to our ability to navigate through life completely happily and successfully. It isn’t a matter of if this will happen but a matter of when, how and how much. Some effects of our life experiences, especially in our youngest years, are severe, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, while others are too subtle to be recognized as disorders at all. One of the most common manifestations of the human experience is anxiety. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental-health concern in America and, whether it’s been diagnosed by a doctor or not, it prevents many of us from having the quality of life we deserve.
A DIY guide to couples counseling: part II
Last month, I discussed the value of effective listening and offered some tips for listening for the sake of understanding, versus listening for the sake of generating a response. This month, we’ll focus on the inverse of that: how to present your thoughts, feelings and overall experience to your partner in a way that is conducive to being understood.
There are many ways to turn a discussion into a disagreement and perhaps even more ways to turn a disagreement into an argument. One common and very simple way to escalate a disagreement is by keeping your focus on being correct. It’s a completely typical and even normal desire — “I’m right, you’re wrong” — yet it almost never leads anywhere productive. While there is often a great deal of satisfaction that comes from being right, let’s be honest, where does it really leave you and your partner? Chances are, you get to sit with your feelings of validation but your relationship gets very little.
A DIY guide to couples counseling
I, along with most of my couples, have a love/hate relationship with couples counseling. It can be immensely challenging and can result in feelings of frustration, stagnation and hopelessness for all parties involved. Alternately, couples work can also be deeply rewarding, exciting and, in moments, full of laughter.
The primary reason this work is difficult is because the ways in which we are conditioned to function in our relationships are not easy to override; however, it makes the moments where progress does occur that much more encouraging.
I view couples counseling in the same way most people think of a dentist appointment or a check-up with a primary-care doctor: It is part of the maintenance necessary to sustain a healthy life. Through the occasional “check-up,” it becomes easier to ensure that you and your partner are communicating in healthy ways, avoiding the development of resentful feelings and continuing to look to the future in compatible ways.
Exploring Mental Health Through an LGBT Lens
When thinking about mental illness and LGBTQ-identified people, mental-health professionals must ask the age-old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, about one in five Americans suffers from a diagnosed mental illness; most relate to genetic predisposition as evidenced by conditions such as depression and alcoholism running in families. Members of our community are by no means exceptions to this.
Have you ever noticed that kids raised by two mommies or two daddies tend to be especially wonderful? Sensitive, empathetic, nonjudgmental, socially competent and creative are some qualities that come to mind.
Unfortunately, most Americans are not aware of that array of favorable attributes and instead fear same-sex couples will raise children who, at best, grow up with social and emotional deficits and, at worst, turn out gay themselves (God forbid, right?).
Grindr Psychology: Why men are doing it and women aren’t
In case you haven’t heard (I’m not sure that’s possible at this point!), Grindr is a gay, geolocational-based social-networking app that allows its users to quickly connect and meet up with other men. While some gay men use the app to socialize and potentially make new friends, it is widely acknowledged that most often the app is used for casual sex. Click. Chat. Connect. Sex. It’s often that simple.
As the app gains more and more mainstream recognition, it causes many to ponder why attempts at creating a lesbian equivalent of Grindr have failed. What is it about gay men that makes it possible for them to engage in this cultural phenomena while lesbians have drawn the line with much tamer apps like OKCupid and Tinder? Certainly, casual sex is not reserved for the male gender. Some people might try to explain away this question by referencing the old Uhaul cliché: “All lesbians are looking for a relationship so there’s no need for a lesbian Grindr.” However, recent research published in Sociological Perspectives found that, at approximately the same rate, men and women choose to have casual sex for pleasure as opposed to hoping to find a relationship. Furthermore, different research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that lesbians are no less likely to have casual sex than straight women. So where is the disconnect?
The Dark Side of Group Mentality: Gay-Bashing 101
OutFest is an opportunity for members of our community to come together, to celebrate each other and to show pride in our LGBTQ identities. Coincidentally enough, this year’s OutFest also marks the anniversary of two gay men having been physically assaulted and subsequently arrested by Philadelphia police officers for disorderly conduct and conspiracy, charges that they were later cleared of. Many of you may remember this incident, as it made headlines in our city; however, police roughing up and accusing a young gay couple of a crime they did not commit did not make national news, nor did it stimulate any major discussion around the need for more inclusive hate-crime legislation in Pennsylvania. Why? For that matter, why have none of the other crimes committed against LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender people, in our city become a cause for change?
On Sept. 11, 2014, a gay couple was brutally attacked and gay-bashed. As our community, and eventually the entire country, learned of this news, people became outraged, baffled and frightened. Many questions have been asked over these last weeks about how such an ugly crime could possibly happen during the height of the gay civil-rights movement and in Philadelphia, the most LGBT-friendly city in the country according to the Human Rights Campaign. Well, the truth is, violent crimes are committed against LGBTQ individuals daily. So what’s different about what happened last month?