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Friday, February 12, 2010

new birth

Woah, yeah, yeah
something sweeet as a candy bar
My girl in need
Thats what you are

Oh, I, I can understand it
Jack and Jill going up the hill
Storybooks and fairytales
I, I can understand it
And if our love gets to be anything but this
If someone gets to feel your warm and tender kiss
Oh, tell me, baby, how will I ever understand it, baby?

i attended a seminar put on the the Colorado Department of Behavioral Health yesterday on LGBT cultural congruency in mental health and substance abuse treatment. it was really an overview of a train the trainer program which delves into the cultural significancies of denying one's self publicly for years in orde to meet social pressures juxtaposed with the desire and/or process to "come out" and own the true feelings one may have about their intimate selves.

there was a breakdown of 5 stages of acceptance that these individuals would go through before coming to a place of true acceptance and ownership of their true nature and real selves. providers were prodded to consider where on this spectrum of accpetance their clients were when assessing a treatment plan as supportig moving through changes may be helpful in the treatment of their maladies. i remember visiting a therapist in 1974 and being told that my mother's reactions to the "i'm gay" news brought to mind the stages off grief no doubt there is similarity here. i imagine that grieving an old self may be appropriate for some clients.

Self-Recognition as Gay

More than just an awareness of attraction to members of the same sex, it involves confusion, some attempt at denial and repression of feelings, anxiety, trying to "pass," counseling, and often religious commitment to "overcome" sexuality. Eventually, acknowledgment and acceptance of one's sexual orientation develops. There may be some grief over "the fall from paradise" and feelings of loss of a traditional heterosexual life.
Gay and lesbian people may be fairly closeted at this point. However, most seek out information about being gay.

Disclosure to Others

Sharing one's sexual orientation with a close friend or family member is the first step in this stage. Rejection may cause a return to the Self-Recognition stage, but positive acceptance can lead to better feelings of self-esteem. Usually disclosure is a slow process. Some gays and lesbians come out in "gentle" ways, admitting they are gay if asked but not volunteering it. Others do it in "loud" ways, proclaiming their sexuality to others to end the invisibility of being gay. As this stage progresses, a self-image of what it means to be gay develops, and the individual studies stereotypes, incorporates some information about gays while rejecting other information.

Socialization with Other Gays

Socializing with other gays and lesbians provides the experience that the person is not alone in the world, and there are other people like him or her. A positive sense of self, indeed pride develops, and is strengthened by acceptance, validation, and support. Contact with positive gay or lesbian role models can play a big role in this stage.

Positive Self-Identification

This stage entails feeling good about oneself, seeking out positive relationships with other gays or lesbians, and feeling satisfied and fulfilled.

Integration and Acceptance

Entails an openness and non-defensiveness about one's sexual orientation. One may be quietly open, not announcing their sexual orientation, but available for support to others nonetheless. Couples live a comfortable life together and generally seek out other couples.Openness is often mitigated by age. Older men may be less open in their lives, and may see no need to change. Younger men may be more open, politically active, and visible in the gay community.

this makes very good sense and should be incorporated into assessment. but what i hadn't realized before yesterday, is that there is probably a similar spectrum of acceptance around being hiv positive (or any other illness or condition) and that assessing the stage of acceptance may be helpful in determining assisting people with moving forward with recovery. there is the same assessment with 12 step, but i hadn't really considered it with the hiv acceptance spectrum before.

i am looking forward to incorporating some of this into the work i do- both on the screening side and on the treatment side. there are so many clients i am working with currently that seem very stuck in their lives. it would be great to find another avenue to assist.

today's sound choice is a very personal coming out song for me. in 1973 when i was 15, i used to hang out once in awhile at a bar called pq's in chicago. i only went on saturday nights usually, and the dancefloor used to be packed... i mean sardine-packed. and this song used to get the walls rockin'. the original is  by bobby womack and it's the bomb, but i am posting a cover that came out that same year by new birth. here is "i can understand it"

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1 comment:

Sheria said...

I've heard the Bobby Womack version but not this cover; it's quite good; I like it.

I found this post very informative. When I was a teacher, I worried about a young student to whom I became close. He was undergoing major issues at home and school as he gradually came to identify himself as gay. This type of information would have helped me to help him more.

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