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October is the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) History Month. LGBT History month is celebrated as an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history. Of special note, October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day which promotes LGBT individuals in living truthfully and openly about their sexual orientation. Te Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Project is an effort to support LGBT Americans and equality for all Americans. Moreover, straight allies are also encouraged to spread a message of equality to their friends and family. For more information about the project, see their website at: In keeping with this, I’ve dedicated this month’s article specifically to LGBT relationships. In addition, I’ve added a brief calendar of events for LGBT events in our area for this month. Enjoy!

LGBT Couples

While LGBT couples face many of the same relationship struggles as straight couples, there are some issues which are unique to same sex relationships. Depending on where they live, they may have more or less support from the community around them to be “out” as a couple. Certainly, the pressure of trying to hide your couple-hood adds an exponential amount of stress to the relationship. Imagine being in a circumstance where you had to pretend—on a daily basis—that the person you’re in love with, plan to spend the rest of your life with, etc., is just your friend, or “roommate.” Tis is such a painful problem for many, many couples, especially those in small towns and communities; which typically have less LGBT resources available to them.

Another issue for some couples is a lack of family support. One partner may come from a family that supports them, while the other may come from a family that is against same sex relationships. Because of this, some same sex couples have one or both persons struggling with internalized homophobia, stemming from their family of origin. Tis deeply affects how they feel about themselves, both as a partner and as a sexual being.

Gender role conditioning, in our country, is also a major 32

contributing factor to problems in same sex relationships. In Joe Kort’s (2012) “Gay Affirmative Terapy” he suggests, “Male couples are oſten disengaging having magnified issues around restricted emotional expression, achievement, competitiveness, and sexual expression. Female couples typically are too engaged and struggle with enmeshment, lacking differentiation, and lack of sexual expression.” For many, gender roles (i.e.- what it means to be male or female in our society) were engrained in them throughout their childhood and young adulthood. Tus, in same sex relationships, the expectations of who does what may need to be more clearly communicated.

In addition to problems with gender roles, same sex couples also tend to have a greater degree of difficulty in their relationships when it comes to their ability to be affectionate in public; religious views; and whether or not to have children.

Sexual Dysfunction in Same Sex Relationships

Problems with sexual responding, (a.k.a. “sexual dysfunction”) are difficult for any couple to manage. Aſter ruling out a medical reason for the issue, there are a host of other possible causes, unique to same sex couples. Tese include:

Teir feelings about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, etc.

Beliefs they have about same sex relationships; which may differ from their partner’s beliefs.

Teir sexual history, including early sexual experiences, their first same sex experiences, coming out, and family responses to their sexual orientation.

Cultural and religious beliefs about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, etc.

Internalized homophobia and/or self-hate, due to their sexual orientation.

— continued on next page October 2012

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