The month of June is now celebrated as LGBT Pride Month. Chicago has its annual Pride Parade the last Sunday of June. This date was chosen to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village that started the LGBT movement. I’ve been wanting to add a category about LGBT relationships on my blog since I started it. I work with several students who identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual. I have yet to meet any students who identify as Transgender, but I know they are out there and may read my blog at some point. I’ve been hesitant to write about LGBT issues only because I don’t have any experience myself being a heterosexual. I have learned a lot from the people I work with and feel I could write about their experiences with some confidence. However, I don’t want to misrepresent this population in any way because I have a lot of respect for those who have come out in our culture, which still has many biases towards this population. I will do my best and am open for any corrective criticism from the LGBT population who may read this blog so I can make the proper corrections if I am wrong in anything I say or represent in my posts.
I thought commemorating the Stonewall Riots was a good way to start my posts focused on LGBT relationships on my blog. For those gay and straight people out there who are unaware of why Gay Pride Month is in June I will give you a little background. In the 1950’s and 60’s our government was very anti-homosexual. Police often raided known gay bars and it was extremely dangerous to be openly gay. On June 28, 1969 police went to raid the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The police lost control and a riot ensued. More protests continued from the residents of Greenwich Village the next night. Facing a few obstacles, gays and lesbians finally formed a cohesive community in which they fought for their rights. The first Gay Pride Marches took place on June 28, 1970 in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Today Gay Pride events are held at the end of June every year for the same reason all over the world.
Being a white heterosexual person in this country I realize that I am very privileged. Although our country has come a long way in the last 40 years, there is still a lot of hate and ignorance out there when it comes to race and sexual orientation. I grew up watching tv and seeing a lot of people who look like me, and since I am heterosexual I have witnessed couples on tv who are attracted to the opposite sex like I am. If I was homosexual I would not have had this privilege. Many of the LGBT students I talk to at Aurora University have come out. Most of them feel accepted by the students on campus. However, most of them admit having memories of when they didn’t feel accepted and felt very alone. Some of them pretended to be straight in order to fit in. Some of them were still questioning their sexual orientation but always felt something was different about them. As a young kid, especially in junior high and high school, most people aspire to fit in and be part of group. To realize you are different is torture at this age. Most students will admit having to rely on themselves because there wasn’t anyone to confide or talk to. This can be dangerous for some people because it leads to substance abuse or depression. According to the Pride Institute, up to 33% of the lesbian and gay population have difficulty controlling their drug or alcohol use. This percentage is higher for transgender individuals. They also report that LGBT people are 2-4 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than heterosexuals.
Also, because this population is often more autonomous, out of a need to be, they also struggle with relationship issues more often. A lot of LGBT people admit that they have never learned how to have a healthy homosexual relationship because they never were able to witness one growing up. Today there are more examples of homosexual relationships in the media, but it is still vastly underrepresented in our culture. Unless you live in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Chicago or other big cities it is hard to find a community of LGBT people to help young homosexuals learn about relationships. Many do not know how to manage a healthy sex life or have healthy intimacy in a relationship. I can’t pretend to have all the answers. I know some relationship issues are universal and I’m sure LGBT people can find some advice on any of my postings. However, I also hope to pull out some specific issues concerning the LGBT population when it comes to relationships and write about it here on my blog. I may ask some people to guest post, and if you are reading this and would like to contribute, please let me know. For now I will simply link you to a blog that I know is very good written by Brandon Lacy Campos, My Feet Only Walk Forward. I also recommend reading One Gay At A Time. Not that either of these blogs provide relationship advice like mine, but they are very good at being honest about being gay in this culture and managing dating, relationship and other life issues. I will try to add bits of wisdom on this blog as well. Please be patient as I’m still learning how to provide counseling advice and relationship insights for the LGBT community to give it the honor and respect it deserves.