"Am I Gay?"
A Guide for People Who Question Their Sexual Orientation

Richard H. Reams, Ph.D.
Part 7: Resources for the LGB+ Person's Journey

Even if this guide has helped you to clarify your sexual orientation, you may have additional questions such as, "Why am I gay?"  "How do I come out to others?"  "Should I come out to my parents?"  "How do I meet other bisexuals?"  If you like to read, then you can find support and guidance from online resources. Among books, an exceptional option is A Positive View of LGBTQ: Embracing Identity and Cultivating Well-Being.  You can obtain this and other books about coming out from Amazon.com.  Alternatively, visit a library to explore is collection of LGB+ books.  Look for books with call numbers in the HQ73-HQ76 range if the library uses the Library of Congress classification system.  If it uses the Dewey Decimal system, the call number will be 306.76, perhaps with an additional digit.  Even if you are too nervous to check out any books, you can probably find a secluded place in the library to read.

Talking to LGB+ people and straight Allies can be a great resource.  Many U.S. cities have an LGBT Community Center where you can find people to talk to, perhaps as part of a coming out support group.  You'll find a list of LGBT Community Centers here.  An additional option is the nearest U.S. chapter of PFLAG — Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.  You'll find PFLAG to be a tremendous resource if you are wrestling with coming out to your parents or coping with your parents' response.  You'll find a directory of PFLAG chapters here.  An international reader seeking to connect with others in their country can begin their search to connect with others through an organization listed on this webpage from Human Rights Watch.

You may realize that you would benefit from the assistance of an LGB-affirming counselor.  To obtain recommendations of counselors in your area, contact the nearest PFLAG chapter or the pastor of the nearest Metropolitan Community Church, a church whose primary mission is to offer affirmative ministry to LGBT people.  The local PFLAG chapter and MCC pastor will probably be familiar with local resources, including counselors.  Additionally, you can contact a local university’s counseling center and ask for the names of LGB-affirming counselors in the community.  If you are a college student, check out the counselor profiles on your campus counseling center’s website.  There you may find an indication of which counselor has expertise working with LGB+ clients.  If the information you seek is not on the center’s website, call the center and ask if there is an LGB-affirming counselor on staff.  Most college counseling centers do offer LGB-affirmative counseling, even on religiously-affiliated campuses.

If you are bisexual or pansexual, I want to dedicate a paragraph to you because of the unique challenges you may face.  The understanding and acceptance of bisexual and pansexual people lags behind that of gay people — even among gay people, as described in Myth #1 of Part 3, "Seven Myths about Sexual Orientation."  Consequently, finding affirming people to talk with in your area may be somewhat challenging.  Ask your local LGBT Community Center (if you are fortunate to have one) if bisexual and pansexual people find affirmation there.  And be aware of two great national resources, the Bisexual Resource Center and Bisexual.org.  Of course, there are books about bisexuality to browse as well, and as of 2017 books are appearing about pansexuality.

If you are wrestling with negative religious teachings or struggling to reconcile your sexual orientation identity with your religious identity, an LGB-affirming religious leader compatible with your faith tradition may be an essential resource.  The pastor of the nearest Metropolitan Community Church may be able to help you identity such a clergyperson.  Additionally, you can access LGB-affirming information and resources through the Homosexuality and Religion webpage provided by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.  

To live an authentic life freely and joyfully is an ongoing journey for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.  Best wishes as you continue your journey.



About the Author

I am a licensed psychologist who has worked at the counseling center of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, since 1994.  From 2004 through 2016, I taught a course that explored the complexities of sexual orientation and the sexual orientation identity development process.  I continue to teach classes and seminars for psychologists-in-training to equip them to provide LGB-affirming counseling.  I received a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; a master's degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; and a bachelor's degree with honors in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams of Cornell University and Dr. Lisa Diamond of the University of Utah for reviewing an early draft of this guide.  Dr. Kristin Eisenhauer, provided superb editorial assistance.  I am especially grateful to Trinity University students who have provided insightful feedback that greatly influenced the content of the website.  Indeed, I thank all of the students who have attended my LGB+ course at Trinity.  With them and through them, I have learned a great deal.

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