"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?"  "How do I meet other lesbians?"  If you are a reader, 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 for LGB books 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 a directory of PFLAG chapters here.  

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, I want to dedicate a paragraph to you because bisexuals can face unique challenges.  The understanding and acceptance of bisexual 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 bi-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 people find affirmation there.  And be aware of two great national resources, the Bisexuality Resource Center and the American Institute of Bisexuality.  And, of course, there are books to browse as well.

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 an LGB-affirming clergy member compatible with your faith tradition with whom you can talk.  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.  Since 2004, I have taught a course that explores the complexities of sexual orientation and the sexual orientation identity development process.  I also 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.  My colleague, Dr. Kristin Eisenhauer, provided superb editorial assistance.  I am especially grateful to the Trinity University students in my 2012 course who provided insightful feedback that stimulated an extensive revision of the text.  Indeed, I thank all of the students who have attended my course at Trinity.  With them and through them, I have learned a great deal.





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