Gay CBT Therapist Tip 1: ‘Coming in’ Is done. So, Now What?
Internally, you have accepted it. You’re gay. And as a gay CBT therapist (Cognitive Behavior Therapist) and person, I want to congratulate you on the courage you have shown in this important first step towards self acceptance and freedom. You have ‘come in’ to yourself! Well done. : )
But what now?
How do you come out to the people in your life? Are you even ready to? Do you want to? Will you be embraced and accepted? Will you face rejection? There are a lot of unknowns and fears in the space between personal acceptance (coming in) and public declaration (coming out).
But what exactly does being gay mean?
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 2: The Basics
There are differences between gender, sexuality, and sex. These are all described here. Being gay falls under the umbrella of sexuality. But to be honest, it goes way beyond this. I like to consider sexuality as first and foremost romantic-uality (even if this isn’t an official word – it should be!)
To oversimplify, the term ‘gay’ usually means attraction to people of the same gender. Gay is a common designation for same-sex male attraction, while ‘lesbian’ denotes same-sex female attraction. However, sexuality is a spectrum which also includes bisexuality, so do take time to research and discover what sexuality you identify with and what labels (if any) feel right to you.
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 3: There Is No One Meaning Of Being Gay
There have been many harmful stereotypes associated with sexuality and what it means to be gay throughout the years. Your sexuality (romanticuality) is unique to you and can be expressed in whatever way is most honoring of your identity.
There is a long history of oppression towards gay people and lgbtq+ people which explains why it is often difficult to accept being gay or lgbtq+. This isn’t your fault at all. It is rather a consequence of society itself needing to become not only more tolerant, but more loving and celebrating of its gay citizens.
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 4: There is no one meaning of what it is to be gay.
You don’t have to act feminine (or masculine) if you identify as a man, woman or as a person who doesn’t identify with binary gender definitions. Or love fashion. Or talk in a certain way. You don’t have to act manly or butch as a woman. Or have a buzz-cut. Or wear flannel. How you dress and act is entirely up to you. Human beings are far more beautiful and unique than any of these sexuality and gender stereotypes.
In spite of what you may have heard or been taught, your appearance has nothing at all to do with your sexuality. Stereotypes play an influential role in our society but do not need to dictate how you present yourself. Labels can be hurtful, so don’t let anyone define you except yourself (if you want to). As you discover who you are and what feels right to you, you will find new and beautiful ways of expression.
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 5: What’s Next?
Once the realization and internal acceptance happen, we often wonder what’s next?
Typically, the next step is to come out to those in your life. And this can be the scariest and most daunting moment of your life. Maybe you know how they’ll react and know that you’ll be accepted for who you are, as you should be. Or perhaps you are not sure what the reaction will be.
One suggestion is to start with the safest person in your life. Test the waters by asking questions that can reveal how they feel about gay people and the LGBTQ community. If you already know they are supportive, you can practice with them how you’ll tell others in your life.
However you decide to proceed, there are many allies who will support and encourage you on your journey and many people do find it helpful to seek the professional support that a gay cbt therapist can provide.
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 6: Coming Out Is Hard, But Also Freeing
You’re ready to begin this journey of showing the world who you truly are. But truthfully, it is da*n right scary.
Coming out can be a transformative experience (and usually is!). Thankfully, there are so many resources available to help people through this transition, no matter their stage or age.
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 7: Learn more and more and more
Here are some excellent guides if you are struggling to come out to your loved ones:
Gay CBT Therapist Tip 8: Being Gay Or LGBTQ Is Not Your All-Defining Trait
Yes, our sexualities (romanticualities) are an essential piece of our identity. But they are not everything we are made of. You are so much more than just being gay. You are a person—a beautiful fellow human being who is deserving of love, light, and living your most authentic life.
What does it mean to be gay? It means whatever it is that it means to you and no one else. And last but not least. If you don’t want to use the word gay, or the acronym lgbtq+, you don’t have to.
The beauty of being yourself is that you get to decide what words you would like to use to describe yourself (if any).
In my experience as a both an openly gay CBT therapist, and as a fellow gay man, I know the challenges that come with coming in and coming out. Click to learn more about Counseling for LGBTQ + people and Therapy For Gay Men.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 16 years of experience. I specialize in anxiety, therapy for gay men and teaching the tools of self compassion for LGBTQ+ people.
If you are seeking support on coming out, or on better accepting yourself as a gay man or lgbtq+ person, please reach out to me and I will do my best to assist you during this time. You can contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up a Gay CBT Therapy Test Drive.