Over the last half century, gays and lesbians have come out of the closet.
Today, all of the major mental health organizations are gay-positive in their views.
In fact, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association (APA) have taken official positions that:
- LGB persons are psychologically normal.
- Strongly supporting gay parenting
- Strongly supporting gay marriage
- The one-time common practice of attempting to convert someone with a lesbian, bi or gay sexual orientation to heterosexuality is unethical both in its goals, and because it simply does not work. Because it is a treatment that has been proven harmful and effective, conversion therapy is prohibited and illegal in several states.
Yet only 40 years ago homosexuality was considered by the mental health field as a “sexual perversion” and a “psychopathology” and today many persons still hold those views. As well, many religions still consider homosexuality a sin. As a result, LGB persons continue to deal with discrimination by others, and many LGB children still grow up in homes that teach them to hate themselves before they even know who they are. Intolerance, discrimination, and stigma are typically internalized as shame by growing children. Shame, in this sense, is the belief that “I am not worthy of love and not capable of loving others.” For some LGB persons overcoming this shame becomes a primary focus of treatment.
For LGB persons who are comfortable and accepting of their orientation and identity, it may still feel important to work with a therapist who they can trust is accepting and understanding.
The dynamics of LGB relationships share much in common with heterosexual relationships, but also have distinct differences.